Thursday, 17 May 2007

Nehru Institute of Mountaineering: Experience Extremes!

Most people associate a holiday with a stay at a luxury hotel in a scenic place with all the comforts of life. When I opted to go for the basic course to the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM), little did I know that the story hereon would be quite to the contrary.

We were asked to prepare for the physical training a month before we reach the institute. However on commencement of the course on 24th May, we all realised that nothing would have prepared us for what we were to face in the coming 28 days. Wake-up at 4 in the morning, assemble for physical training at 5 am and a hectic schedule for the entire day filled with lecture sessions, artificial wall climbing training, tent pitching training, long treks, et’ all!

The physical and emotional stress and fatigue I experienced at this juncture was the most, since the typical army routine, sleeping on a bunk bed, living a disciplined lifestyle was very new to me, a Mumbaiite! It was only later that I found out that all the remaining 75 trainees were going through the same stress levels, that’s when a sense of hope to perform, came in, just as the other 75 trainees were.

So we began with the first phase of the training: Rock Craft, for which we walked the entire stretch of 11 km from the NIM campus to Tekhla, the rock climbing zone. The most adventurous aspect of this phase was climbing up 40m high rocks and then rappelling down the same.

This was followed by the most memorable part of the course: the 18 day trek!
We left from the NIM campus on the 31st May and our journey would literally take us across many mountains and rivers, forests and glaciers! Here were 76 basic course mountaineering trainees, with 20 kg ruck-sacks on their backs, working purely on the directions of their instructors. Initially we all felt like coolies, but later, on seeing the increasing beauty of the places we visited, it was all worth it! Our journey took us from NIM (4,300 feet) to Tel (8,200 feet), Bukhi, Jungle camp, Gujjar Hut camp and finally Base Camp (12,300 feet).

It sounds like a great achievement now, but at that moment we were all humbled by the beauty of the places we passed by, with beautiful rhododendrons, buttercups, marshmarygolds and other colourful flowers inviting us to their humble abode. Walking through valleys of flowers, with snow carpeted mountains, crossing crystal clear streams and hearing the gurgling waters, was such a pleasure, it compensated for the tough journey and heavy luggage, giving us all a sense of calm and contentment.

The day after reaching base camp, we took off for the second phase of our course: Ice Craft. We trekked to the Dokriani Bamak glacier, which was literally a mountainous area of pure ice covered with rubble, giving it a landslide area feeling. We were all anxious at first, since the climb to the place itself made us slip and fall a dozen times and then the ice craft was even more grueling. We were taught techniques of ascending and descending on ice slopes, glaciers and crevasses with the help of ice axe, pitons, wearing (very) heavy ice boots and crampons (spikes attached to the base of the boots for grip on ice). But by the end of the 5 day training in this area, were all confident enough to run up and down the ice slopes and enjoy!

During our lecture sessions at base camp, we were instructed on the various aspects related to mountaineering. It included lectures on avalanches, glaciers, flora and fauna, important medical information about the effect of high altitudes on mountains, importance of different types of food on the mountains and we were also shown Hollywood movies like Vertical Limit!

More importantly, many of our instructors gave us detailed stories of their experiences on mountains like Nanda Devi and Everest. Colonel Balwant Sandhu, ex principal of the institute shared his experience of climbing Changabang, being the leader of an Indo-British expedition. The peak is also called ‘the sharks tooth’ because of its extreme steep feature. The photographs of the expedition were breathtaking and the experience he shared with us were priceless and awe inspiring. The most striking factor that I cannot forget was when we were told by our instructor, Mr. Neel Chand that once on the Everest, due to lack of anchors for pitching a tent, someone had used a dead body as an anchor for their tent, and he actually saw that! It just shows that even though the mountains can be very beautiful, they can also be very ruthless!

From Base camp we proceeded to Advance Base Camp, at a height of 13,400 feet and also to the third and last phase of our course: Snow Craft. There we learnt the techniques of ascending on soft snow with the help of ice axe, ropes. I can openly say for all my fellow trainees that this was the least strenuous and most fun part of it all since most of the time we were sliding down the snow slopes and throwing snow balls on our instructors!

At the end of snow craft training, we returned back to base camp. We were then taught basics of navigation in mountains with the use of a compass and service protractor and at the end of it were sent on a treasure hunt! As all serious courses do, this one too had a test at the end. Hence, on the last day everyone could be seen sitting with book in hand trying to memorise all the notes given to us during the lectures.

The day arrived when we were to return back to the NIM campus. We walked from Base Camp to Tel, which took us 9 hours, with just 3-4 10 minute breaks in between. The next day was our final trek to the bus point from where we were driven to the NIM campus. The euphoria on everyone’s faces on seeing the buses, a sign of civilization after 17 days of living like nomads, was worth seeing!

The entire course, though very tough, was unique and sometimes funny too. From living in tents for 17 days, laughing and crying with team mates at the same time, to attending to nature calls amidst nature! It all makes me think that to experience adventure and beauty; one has to scale the heights of experience to experience extremes.

A Little Information about the Institute:
The Institute:
The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering was established at Uttarkashi on 14 Nov.1965. The aim of the Institute is to introduce and initiate young men, women and children to the mountains and nature through its various Mountaineering and Adventure training courses. Special emphasis is laid on instilling the concept of adventure sports, without causing environmental degradation.
The institute conducts various courses for beginners as well as experienced mountaineers. They have a Basic Mountaineering Course, Advance Mountaineering Courses, Search & Rescue Course, method of Instruction Course, Mountain Guide Course and Adventure Courses.

The Basic course: In this course, beginners are taught the basic techniques of movement on rock, snow and ice. This is achieved through practical training and theoretical knowledge about the various aspects of mountaineering, including conservation of Himalayan environment, preserving health in the mountains, toughen the body by increasing resistance to cold, hunger and fatigue.
The trainees of the Basic course spend initial four to six days at Uttarkashi and Tekhla, where they undergo physical conditioning, toughening up exercises, long walks and extensive rock climbing training. Hereafter, they spend the next nineteen to twenty days in the mountains; the journey towards base camp involves tow to three intermediate camps, which help the trainees acclimatize. During their stay in the mountains, students are trained in the basic techniques of snow craft, ice craft and rock climbing at high altitudes. On completion of training, basic course students are taken for a height gain, up to altitudes ranging between 17,000 and 19,000 feet.

The contact number for Nehru Institute of Mountaineering is 01374.2123


Debashis said...

Hi Deepti-

Nice to see you in action. Lots of happening at your end. And after reading through your write up, I imagine, how beautiful the experience would have been on your part. Cheers and wish you good times ahead. Please keep writing.


Dii said...

Thanks for that boost Deb!

shahid said...

HI,Thanks for sharing ur experience i hope u wouldnt mind answering a few quesitons for me
1.what is the best time to do this course
2.How many months in advance should we apply for the course
3.Can we continue with the advanced course once we complete our basic course?

take care...........

Dii said...

Hello Shahid,
The one I went for started in May and I applied in October the previous year. If you are a fitness freak (gyming 3 hrs a day!) then you need not worry about preparation! Coz its quite tough for someone like me - very irregular with exercise!
Lastly, you need to pass the basics course with an A grade to go on to the advanced course! Trust me its tough! But if you are interested, I can help you get intouch with some ppl with an A grade, let me know, tc!

shahid said...

Hello deepti,
Thanks for the info

Yogesh said...

Hi Deepti

This is a real inside view of NIM. As I look forward to my basic course in October, I can plan towards my fitness that way.

Dii said...

Sure Yogesh, hope it comes handy, all the best for the course!

Kili said...

Hi deepti...

Thanks for sharing your experience.

I felt the same when I ddi my trainign at NIM...15 yrs ago. Nothing has changed since.

I've been in the US for the past 10yrs but am still intouch with my instructors. Who was your instructor...just curious.


dhrusha said...

Hi Dipti
im also student of NIM . Ur writing is excellent .i really enjoy it.Can u tell me in which year u was there.

Mallik said...

very nice and informative!

Dii said...

thankyou so much! Kili, Dhrusha, and Mallik!

Rajeev Shrivastava said...

Hi. I was looking for some information on what to expect at NIM when I reach there on 20th April for the Basic Course. Your blog was the best insight I could gleam off the net. Thanks for the effort you took in writing this.


rovinroustabout said...

U have written an awesome piece, well capable to get published in any newspaper without editing. Just like other ppl I also had few questions.
1. What is the age profile of the students, I am 25 nd I won’t get a 28 days ka break, at least this year. I was just wondering if 26 years is too old to pursue this hobby.
2. I have done basic rock climbing course with A grade. And I got a snow climbing scholarship but unfortunately I can’t go. that was 8 years ago and I was in school. I have done some trekking and some practice at IMF’s Delhi center but no serious climbing. And I have put on lots of weight do you think they will consider me for advanced course?

Kili said...

You must surely pursue your dreams! You'll have to f=get in shape to increase your stamina. But in the's 10% fitness and 90% determination

MARK said...

Hi deepti,

That was a really informative and passionate article. Thanks alot. am planning to do the Basic Mountaineering Course. Is it like very hard?? Would you do it again if you had to??

sanjana said...

Hi deepti
Very intresting experience,feel more inspired to take up this course, hope you will help me through-I checked up on the web with NIM with a bit of dissappointment regarding online registration and few of the details on this course, with how many camps do they take over an year on Basic mountaineering? would be very glad if answer my question

Sarita Rana Sharma said...

Dear Deepti

Your article reminds me the days i spent in NIM and mountains,those were the happiest moments in my life.
your experience inspire me to go to the mountains again and again


jui said...

hi deepti
u dnt knw me but wud u mind answering this??
i'm planning to go dis year.. i jus wanna ask i jus do practice of weight carrying n climbing small hills for a month or so so is it enough..?? i'm lil tensed cz many of them hv scared me tat its tough n ppl run away from ther...

jui said...

hi deepti
u dnt knw me but wud u mind answering this to me.. this is jui..n i'm planning to go this year but m very tensed many ppl hv scared me tat its too tough n ppl run away from ther.. but i'm practicing lil bit no lik climbing small hills n weigth carryin n running is it enough for tat..??plz do reply my mail id is

Dii said...

Hey Jui,
What you have heard from people is true, around 10 girld dropped out from my batch when I went for the course. But if you are very serious, and strong willed, you will be able to complete it. I was not physically fit for the course,so it was tougher to get through, if you are working out regularly then you shouldn't have a problem.

deezee said...

Hi Deepti,
Iv been toying with the idea of going to this institute but the lack of first-hand information was really bothering me..And is as already mentioned above your are the only one on the net to give a comprehensive account of your experience and thank you for that..
Well from what I have read I cant figure out what exactly i should do to improve my fitness much should i run everyday or should i be taking up weight training??or something else..And Id like to know what check ups did you do before you filled out the application form..And did you get an A grade..What kind of performance assures one?I mean whats the difference in skill of those who dint get one in your batch..well i have a lot of questions actually..N i hope this isnt too much of a nuisance :)

Dii said...

Thank you som much guys Sarita, Sanjana, Marki and Kili for your interest in this post!

I hope I have answered all your queires and am sorry for such a late reply, no excuses.

@Mark, yes, I would do it again, the age limit says its for anone below 35, I'll make sure I do it once more before I get that old! More over I'd wanna do it again to get an A grade(got a B earlier:(

Cheers guys!

Dii said...

Thanks Deepika and appologoes to you too for a late reply.

All your questions are quite reasonable, not a nuicence at all:)

To begin with, I dint get an A grade, but even still, it was a life changing experience for me.

If you are already physically fit, then you need not worry, just continue the excercise regime you have been following, if not, make sure you work out regularly for atleast 3 months before going, I had a tough time since I was not physically fit.

All the students I know who got an A grade had some previous experience in mountaineering, as in they had already practiced, all the detailed stuff (mentioend in the post) whereas we were learning it all for the first time.

Your stamina too has to be top class for an A, or you need to be a natural!
Quite a few locals (students coming from himachal got A grades, reason being, they have been born and broughtup climbing up and down mountains and they are naturally strong built)

Hope this update helps,

mechdivine said...

Hi Deepti,

I have been considering to go for Basic course for a while, but Nehru Institute has already filled out is quota for thsi year. What do you say about Himalaya Institute? Further .. given the long one month time commitment.. i am also considering the adventure course .. would it be even half the fun of Basic course ..

Jai said...

hey deepti-

can you pls let me know if NIM has a representative office in Mumbai... The basic course you did sounds like fun though a bit like boot camp. i have trekked quite a bit in South America... have moved back home now and would love to trek in the Himalayas... this course seems like a great way to start... but I'm tipping the age scale -- will be 35 soon, so need to do this course asap... can i do the course later this year or will I now have to sign up for next year?


Dii said...

Hey Jai, don't know of any NIM representative in Mumbai. Don't think they have any. But you could contact them directly throguh the website. Also, Manali has a NIM centre, so you could do the course at Uttarkashi or Manali.
Wow! trekking in South America, where about?
The 30 day course takes place in April/May, so you'll have to figure out the age limit thing, 35 is the limit as I think you know already.
All the best! Hope you manage to go through it!

Dii said...

Hey Anubhav,
trust me, the adventure course will not feel half as wow as the 30 day thing. You just have to go all the way to experience NIM!
But if you're working and can't give that much time, then I guess...naaa but I'd still go for the entire course!
Ya, this year's thing is done, but you can register arnd Sept/Oct for next year. Its completely worth the wait,plus you can use the time to build your stamina. Trust me, you'll need it!

Altu said...

Hi Deepti,

Preety comprehensive bolog about NIM. Thanks for the inside info and your experience.

I was planning to take their October course but your last update says that they are full for this year. Really? Might have to call them and check.

Also, I have seen photos of the rock wall they have. Is that the part of the Basic training course, cause that seems tough to me :P:P.
Might have to workout more to pull myself that high.

Thanks again. Your blog has helped a lot.

saurabh said...

hello deepti,
this is sourabh here i am from Uttar pradesh and i am interested in NIM(Nehru institute of mountaineering)...can u tell me the whole detial of the courses they offered and the addmission procedure.....
thank you
sourabh kumar
Please send the detail on my E-mail

monksoldier said...

Hi deepti
i got my course for basic mountaineering in sep 10 to oct 11 batch. i searched for info on net, i got to see your blog, it is nicely written. i have many queries regarding the course. can u plz clear my doubts....
what all should i carry ?
shoes, what kind ?
clothing. what kind ?
i am really curious and worried, i have not left with much time to procure and plan ?
can u please help me out
- raju

Lampard said...

hi Deepti,

Sorry I don't know you..but I couldn't resist myself from reading your blog and posting a comment. Actually I was going through NIM website, and then I also found out your blog on google search page. I am from the batch of 1997, when I had just passed my class 10th. It was not like the one you had but we had three camps and the duration of the course was 21 days...Mine was an adventure course.

Interestingly I had gone for a small trek from Gangotri to Gomukh along with my father and sister. So I was prepared a little one. But the training and trekking was as difficult as you have mentioned but it was thrilling and exciting the same way you felt.

Now that it has been 12 years, I really want to go back in the mountains and take up another advance course.

Lets see.


jamal said...

wow amazing insight.. really helped me lot preparing myself mentally.. i am ready to do it now. i just wanted to know is the one in manali better or the one in uttarakshi? and can u tell me the best time to go in the year.. thank you..:) keep doing your wonderful job

sanjit said...

Your write up is very interesting and useful, I was curious to know what would be the age group of the people doing the course. I am 28, and was hoping its not too late to try for it....wht type of a group can I expect....


sanjit said...

Your write up is very interesting and useful, I was curious to know what would be the age group of the people doing the course. I am 28, and was hoping its not too late to try for it....wht type of a group can I expect....


sanjit said...

Your write up is very interesting and useful. I am planning to go on this trip next year. I wanted to know what is the average age of the group, ( I am 27)
Will the group be a mix of working professional or is it college going....

Also, can we go solo on this trip or do people come in groups...

Even about the accomodation part, were u staying in the hostel, how was the experience there....


Yashwant said...

Dear Ms Dipti

Just wandered into your blog site while looking for info on NIM. Thanks for the very useful information beautifully presented.

I have a small outfit in Delhi dealing in Corporate Training through outbound and inhouse programmes. We also conduct adventure programmes. I am looking for suitable people to work with me who have aptitude for adventure and/or training. May I approach anyone interested here in contacting me.

More info is there on our website
emails or

P No 919868539976


Cdr (Retd) Yashwant Prakash


Hello frnd,
Its really intersting..I already heard about it..but your words makes it real explanatory....thankyou for the information.

with regards
S. Krishna kumar

Ankush said...

hi fellow moutaineer,
"great things happen when men (people)and mountains meet"-sir Hillary.i have done the basic course and in next year appling for the advance course. Sharing your experiences ,with other will boost the sport of adventure in our country . please do keep up the great woerk . and teach people like us to use a quill .
thanks , captain ankush

anachronism said...

Hi Deepti,
This has been a fantastic read. I'm just back from an adventure camp and my instructors told me a lot about HMI and NIM. Looking forward to doing a basic course!!
I cannot begin to imagine how beautiful it must have been.

Abdulkadir said...

hi, my name is abdulkadir, i have been to adventure mountaineering at NIM through NCC. But the website is not working. would u help me get information on basic course in 2010, and vacancies,pls. contact me on

thank u
good blog

Dii said...

the contact number for Nehru Institute of Mountaineering is 01374.2123

visionarysandy said...

Hi Deepti..

your blogpost was very interesting.
Will i become capable enough to take people on trekking tours, If i do Basic and advanced course from NIM??
I am 21years old trekking freak and planning to pursue the course, your post has also played a crucial role in motivating me. And what about the medical certificate thing. I wear specks & don't use lens. Will i be still eligible for the course???

plz help me out

visionarysandy said...

Hi Deepti..

your blogpost is motivating. I am 21years old trekking freak. Will i become capable enough to take people on trekking tours after doing basic and advanced course from NIM?
I wear specks & dont use lens, am i still eligible for the course??
and whats the medical certificate all about
plz help me out

Abhijeet said...

hi Diipti,
That was a really nice post. Something that would truly initiate people into adventure. You must give a more detailed insight into how things were lie, some interesting activities, your day to day experiences etc.. that would be something worth reading. I am looking forward to that.


amit said...

its nice that you r helping other regarding same.
I am unable to get to NIM website and phone number provided by u is also not working.
I am a student who want to join NIM only for adventure. Is is possible? What is fee, duration and when to apply.Does they have any centre in Delhi.

priyank shah said...


i am planning for this course and want an 'A' started trekking 2 months, how are grades given?

Dii said...

Hello Priyank, An A grade is understandably given for excellence in mountaineering. if you have been into trekking all your life, are fit and have an excellent stamina, you would qualify.

priyank shah said...

well I have been to 10 treks till now and will finish at least another 20 by may 2011. I was checking NIM site they have not given dates for courses in 2011.


hey Diipti..I'm also planning to attend the basic course at NIM. Did you get their application form from their website or you brought it from the institute?


Hello Deepti ,
I have some questions regarding NIHM , questions are like this
0> well forms are available on the website , can we fill the form available on the website and send them or do i have to get the form and prospect from NIHM itself ?
1>My doctor asked me , how to fill the medical form can you tell me , do my doctor has to put + if i have any symptom or illness , or they have to put - for the same .
2> In the form field no 6 , course serial no a , b , what do i have to fill there ? The course code and the date or commencing ? Do I have to fill the both , if I do not get 1st one , I will get second one ?
3>In confirmation sleep , there is a field asking requirement if any , what could be field over there ?
4> Which trekking show you will recommend me ? Do i have to carry a back pack or standard bag will do ? If i have to get back pack , how many liters should i get ?

chinmay thakur said...

hi diipti . thanx for all ur info..
i m planning to join for basic course beginning in oct 2011/ i'll join mixed one. caz it wud be boring all guys around i i wanted to ask that will it be possible to charge my camera on way caz i do photography as hobby n since i hav a digital slr i'll be needing to charge in a day or two. thanx

chinmay thakur said...

hi diipti . thanx for all ur info..
i m planning to join for basic course beginning in oct 2011/ i'll join mixed one. caz it wud be boring all guys around i i wanted to ask that will it be possible to charge my camera on way caz i do photography as hobby n since i hav a digital slr i'll be needing to charge in a day or two. thanx