New Delhi, 23 July (H.S): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Friday flagged-in the Indian Army Skiing Expedition, ARMEX-21 here. The ARMEX-21 was conducted in the mountain ranges of the Himalayan region to promote the adventure activity in the country and the Indian Army. The expedition was flagged off at Karakoram Pass in Ladakh on March10, 2021 andculminated at Malari in Uttarakhand on July06, 2021, covering 1,660 kmsin 119 days. During the expedition, the team travelled through several passes of 5,000-6,500m, glaciers, valleys and rivers. The team also interacted with the local population of the far-flung areas. It was able to gather detailed information about several hitherto unchartered areas along the international boundary and the hinterland.
Speaking on the occasion, Rajnath Singh congratulated the team on the successful completion of the challenging expedition and lauded them for their courage and resilience. Terming the expedition as extraordinary, he said not only did the team completed a thrilling journey, but also conducted an operational recce of the region.
The Minister commended the courage, dedication and spirit of the Armed Forces and expressed satisfaction that the safety & security of the country is in safe hands. He exuded confidence that the success of ARMEX-21 will inspire a new generation of adventurers across the nation.
Sharing theteam?s experiences of the journey, Major AK Singh, the team leader said there were several occasions when their resolve was tested. One of the most difficult moments the team faced was while crossing Kalindi Khal in Garhwal. He said, the team had to set camp at an altitude of 5,500 m due to the white-out conditions.The team leader described the interaction with the civilian population residing in remote areas as a refreshing experience.Their simplicity and helping attitude was heart-warming, he said, adding that the expedition served to bring fringe populations closer and strengthened their faith in the Indian Army?s ability to reach out to them in case of need.
The team members explained how traversing long distances in the high mountains differs from scaling of peaks which is the more common form of adventure activity in the mountains. Traverse can test your endurance like no other activity, they said. The team remained beyond the reach of logistics and rescue teams for long durations which necessitate carriage of loads more than 30 kgs by each member of the team. Unlike ascent of peaks where a very small part of the team actually scales the peak, in traversing long distances the entire team completes the adventure activity. Team spirit was the key, the team stressed.
The team members informed the Defence Minister how they were able to cover long distances by use of skis. On one occasion, they covered 66 kms in a day while crossing the Lamkhaga Pass which was the longest distance covered by them in a single day during the entire expedition. Rajnath Singh also felicitated the team members of ARMEX-21 on the occasion.
Chief of the Army Staff General MM Naravane and senior officersof the Indian Army were present during the flag in ceremony.