Indian Navy adventure team heads for North Pole

March 10th, 2008 - 7:01 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) After climbing Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, and skiing to the South Pole, a group of Indian Navy adventure buffs is now headed for the North Pole - aiming to achieve the unique distinction of becoming the first Indians to reach all three poles. “There’s the North Pole and there’s the South Pole, and the Everest being the highest point in the world is also considered a pole,” team leader Commander Satyabrata Dham told reporters here Monday of the 10-member expedition’s aim.

Dham and two team members - Petty Officers Rakesh Kumar and Vikas Kumar - had climbed Everest in 2004. In 2006, all the 10 members of the present team skied to the South Pole.

“Thus far, only 23 individuals have reached all three poles. Once we reach the North Pole, we will become the 24th, 25th and 26th individuals to have done so,” said Dham of the expedition that Minister of State for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh flagged off here Monday.

The team will fly from here to Oslo March 24 and from there to the Base Camp April 1.

“We will begin skiing April 2 and plan to travel for eight to 10 hours every day. As the crow flies, the distance from the Base Camp to the North Pole is about 150 km but we will be covering considerably more because of the drifting ice,” Dham said.

“If all goes well, we should be at the North Pole April 10. From there, we will be transported by helicopter to the Base Camp and then to Oslo and hope to return home by April 24,” he added.

Success would bring with it a series of firsts: the first military or civilian organisation to reach the three poles, the first Indian team to ski to the North Pole, the first Indian team to ski to the North and South Poles and, of course, the first Indians to reach all three poles.

This, itself, is quite an achievement, considering that the Indian Navy launched its adventure activities only in 2002.

“We’ve mounted 10 expeditions in six years,” Dham proudly said.

Speaking about the dangers the team would face, he said this would principally come from polar bears, who are known to attack any human beings they might come across.

“This is the breeding season so there will be plenty of cubs around and their parents will be zealously guarding them. We are carrying non-lethal ammunition to ward off any attacks,” Dham said.

“This apart, there is the danger of water leads (channels that open up as the ice shifts) and pressure ridges (that form as the ice moves).

“Then, we will have to tackle the drifting ice. It might happen that we camp for the night and in the morning find that we are back to square one because of the drifting ice,” Dham pointed out.

Apart from Dham, there are two other officers in the team - Lieutenants Avinash Khajuria and Ajay Sharma, the latter being the medical officers.

Master Chief Raj Kumar, Petty Officers Rakesh Kumar and Vikas Kumar, and Seamen Ramedra Pandey, Brijendra Singh, Manoj Vats, and Sonam Tamchos are the other members of the expedition.

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