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Indian Spinal Injuries Centre Commemorates 50 Years of India’s Historic First Successful Expedition to Mount Everest

Major HPS Ahluwalia, one of the members of that victorious nine-member team suffered a devastating spine injury in the soon-to-follow 1965 India-Pakistan war, and went on to establish the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre
New Delhi, June 1 2015:
Four surviving members of the India’s first successful expedition to Mount Everest came together today to relive the historic moment that put them on top of the world, literally, 50 years back in 1965.

A mammoth five decades have elapsed since they became the first ever one-country expedition to climb the Mount Everest, but that hard fought victory remains the most cherished moment of the lives of the few surviving legendary members of that historic team.

Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, organized a special golden jubilee celebration to commemorate the historic episode and re-unite the team that made India proud on a fateful May morning in 1965. Reunited after years, the members of the mountaineering fraternity indulged in nostalgia, as they recalled the difficult expedition and the events preceding their final victory.

Capt M S Kholi, the leader of the Indian Everest Expedition Team, 1965 was the Chief Guest of the day. The celebrations were joined by Col N Kumar, the Deputy leader of Indian Expedition 1965, and Major HPS Ahluwalia, one of the members of the Expedition Team, 1965.

Col H S Chauhan, President, Indian Mountaineering Foundation, also joined in the special golden jubilee celebrations at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre and spoke about how advancement in technology over the years has helped in making difficult mountaineering treks easier today.

In May, 1965, 19 brave hearts, led by Captain M. S. Kohli and assisted by 50 Sherpas and 900 porters, stretched themselves beyond limits of human endurance and made history by putting nine climbers — Major HPS Ahluwalia, Ang Kami, Phu Dorji, Harish Rawat, Sonam Wangyal, Nawang Gombu, Avtar S. Cheema, C P Vohra, & Sonam Gyatso on top of the world, electrifying an entire generation of Indians.

Such was the national euphoria that acting Prime Minister Gulzarilal Nanda, along with Defence Minister Y.B. Chavan, led the historic reception that was accorded to the team on their return to New Delhi at the Palam Airport.

Interestingly, India had held its first expedition to Mount Everest in 1960 and then in 1962; but both failed due to bad weather. Eventually the 3rd expedition of 1965 brought glory and pride as India became the first country in the world to put 9 men atop Everest in a single expedition.

 The celebrations were followed by a special screening of the film, ‘Everest 1965’.

 “I am often asked how I felt on the summit of Everest. When we finally stepped on the summit, it was freezing cold, maybe 30 degrees below zero. We took a long, wheeling look from the highest point on the earth.  There were Mt. Makalu and Lhotse, Nuptse and Kanchenjunga looming on the horizon and host of other endless peaks far below us. The view was unforgettable. Of all the emotions which surged through us as we stood on the summit looking over miles of the panorama below us, the dominant one was perhaps of humility. The experience makes you conscious of your smallness in the immeasurable universe,” says Major HPS Ahluwalia.

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