NCC cadets set off to conquer 20,000 feet peak


New Delhi : Twenty young boys of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) Friday set off from here to conquer the 20,000-feet high Kalanag peak, one of toughest to climb in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas in Uttaranchal.

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As Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt flagged off the NCC mountaineering expedition, the boys, all of 19, couldn't hide their enthusiasm and eagerness to achieve their goal.

They all smiled confidently and shouted 'Yes sir!' on being asked if they are ready to achieve this feat.

"I am ready for the challenge," said 19-year-old A. Meera Maideen of the Tamil Nadu.

The cadets have undergone a four-month basic mountaineering course that teaches the nuances of scaling heights and prepares them psychologically and physically.

The actual ascent to the peak will begin Sunday after the boys have covered the road trek up to their base camp. The entire expedition will last one month.

"I was a little nervous initially. It's my first mountaineering expedition after all. But I am no longer scared and my parents are also very supportive," Maideen said.

Led by Lt. Col. Amarek Singh, who heads all NCC mountaineering expeditions, the team also comprises three officers, including a medical officer.

"We have similar expeditions for both boys and girls. After this expedition, which culminates June 29, we will plan an expedition for girls. The main purpose of these trips is to make young people face challenges and enable them to learn how to survive," Singh told IANS.

Dutt, while encouraging the cadets, said more such expeditions should be organised because they help people grow into better individuals.

The expedition will make several halts on way to the peak so that the cadets can acclimatise themselves to the changing environment.

As a run-up to the expedition, the team has had night practices of trekking with their luggage on Delhi roads.

While some like Maideen have done their basic training course, others like Ajay Gaikwad of Maharashtra, have completed advanced mountaineering courses as well.

"But it doesn't really matter who has done which course. We are all trained well to scale the heights and are all ready to conquer the peak," a team member said confidently.