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Boots & Crampons

Cracking the Ice: An Insider‘s Guide to HMI’s Basic Mountaineering Course

Authored by Rajat Upadhyay, Marketing Executive & Trek Leader (Boots & Crampons)

The whispers of the mountains had beckoned me for eight years, ever since I first ventured into frequent travels to the hills and embarked on small hikes with friends. But it was in May 2022 when I found myself standing at the top of Mt Friendship, crossing the 5000-meter mark. At that moment, a thought took root – I decided that I needed to go deeper, learn the intricacies of mountaineering, and hone my skills. The road ahead seemed long, but I was ready for a true beginning.

My journey into the world of mountaineering began not as a grand plan but as a manifestation of my passion for mountains and a stroke of luck. My desire to explore deepened during my time with one of India’s premier mountaineering companies, Boots & Crampons. While trekking, and working within the marketing and operations team at B&C, I soaked up an immense amount of knowledge from my experienced seniors and mentors. This encompassed not only the nuances of mountaineering and trekking in the Himalayas but also insights into the business side of this adventure-driven industry. However, I had realized that it was time for some formal training.

hmi bmc trek

Navigating through the websites of various institutes and scrutinizing the courses they offered, I narrowed down my choices to two renowned names: NIM and HMI. However, the extensive waitlist at NIM Uttarkashi redirected my path towards the esteemed Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) in Darjeeling, hailed as one of the oldest and finest mountaineering institutes globally. After a wait of 1.5 years, I finally found myself standing at the doorstep of the illustrious Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI).

I walked into HMI with a mindset of hard work and little expectation. Yet, what unfolded was an intense, vast, and tougher journey than I could have fathomed. Sixty trainees, 54 boys, 6 girls, and 4 international participants formed a motley crew of aspiring mountaineers. My past trekking and climbing experiences proved to be a beacon of support, but nothing prepared me for the rigors that lay ahead.

Picture this: a month that unfolds like a riveting adventure novel. The BMC at HMI isn’t just a course; it’s a saga that kicks off with physical training and lectures that unravel the mysteries of mountains. Gears, rope knots, and mountain essentials become our daily lexicon. A trekking test, a rock climbing odyssey, and then, the pièce de résistance – fifteen days amid the cradle of mountains, embracing glacier training, mountaineering gear wizardry, pitching tents, climbing ice walls, learning the orchestration of rescue techniques and much more.

hmi bmc trek

The institute’s heartbeat is the HMI Base Camp at 14500ft, where we found ourselves in a communal hut, over 50 boys sharing tales, laughter, and the anticipation of what lay ahead. Days melted into nights as we trekked to Glaciers and Advanced Base Camp’s rock faces, to embrace the art of climbing, jumaring & rappelling. 

Accompanying me on this journey was a seasoned friend from Himachal, Basant (We call him Santa ), a mountaineering veteran of ten years. Not surprisingly, he emerged as the technical maestro of our batch, a living testament to the transformative power of experience.

In the realm of mountain endeavors, preparation is key. Physical and mental conditioning is utterly significant before any such journey. My mornings were filled with jogs, weighted backpack walks, and the rhythmic clink of gym equipment. Articles and youtube videos became my guides, providing a glimpse into the challenges that awaited. However, reality surpassed my expectations on many occasions. One such moment was on a glacier wall that etched itself into my memory. As I ascended using the Peak & toe method, armed with two ice axes and boots fitted with crampons, the last night’s snowfall added an unexpected challenge. The wall, now adorned with a fresh layer of snow, began retaliating with every strike of my ice axe, creating a mesmerizing but tricky dance between man and mountain.

hmi bmc trek

Halfway up the wall, standing at around 8-10 meters, nature decided to throw in an unexpected twist. The snow clung to my glasses, obscuring my vision, and suddenly, I found myself technically blind on the icy canvas. Panic set in, and I urgently shouted, “I can’t see anything! Please, belay me down.” However, for some reason, my plea seemed lost in the mountain winds. The inability of my teammates to comprehend my situation amplified my panic, highlighting a crucial realization – adventure sports can transform even the smallest gear glitch, like snow on glasses and weak eyesight, into significant hurdles. This unexpected encounter underscored the importance of adaptability and quick thinking in the unpredictable embrace of the mountains..

hmi bmc trek

Every single detail in the course, whether it was learning how to navigate rocks and ice or understanding medical procedures and rescue techniques, played a super important role in turning us from beginners into skilled mountaineers. Think of it like solving a giant puzzle—each lesson was like a puzzle piece falling into its perfect spot, creating this big picture of mountaineering know-how.

During the Basic Mountaineer Course at HMI, we didn’t just learn about climbing mountains; we became tough cookies, both mentally and physically. Picture this: the journey was tough, doubts sneaked in like unexpected guests, but the realization of how crucial the course was acted like a guiding light. It was a whole month of pushing ourselves beyond what we thought were our limits, discovering hidden strengths we didn’t know we had. In a nutshell, it was like unlocking superpowers, but instead of capes, we had CRAMPONS!… and other gears, of course.

hmi bmc trek

Amidst the peaks and valleys, we weren’t just a batch of trainees; we were ropes, groups of six diverse individuals bound by a shared passion. From different states, backgrounds, and professions, we became comrades in adversity, supporting, encouraging, and forming friendships that transcended the boundaries of the course.

The echoes of the Basic Mountaineer Course at HMI continue to reverberate. Beyond the technical prowess gained, the course reshaped my approach to leadership, trek guiding, and life’s subsequent challenges. The mental resilience fostered amidst the peaks became an invaluable asset in navigating the crests and troughs that followed. In the grand tapestry of mountaineering, mental strength reigns supreme. As the course concluded, some trainees faltered, worn down by the mental strain. Yet, the journey begins with mental fortitude.

hmi bmc trek

The institute provides the essentials; you bring the passion. Pack basic clothing; the institute equips you with the rest. From down jackets to crampons, helmets to ropes, the arsenal of ascent is at your disposal.

As the curtain falls on this month-long saga, HMI emerges not just as an institute but as an immersive experience. The breathtaking campus, the looming presence of Kangchenjunga, seasoned instructors, insightful classes, delectable food, camaraderie forged in adversity, and friendships that stand the test of time – these are the threads that weave the tapestry of the Basic Mountaineer Course at HMI.

hmi bmc trek

Lost weight, aching shoulders, and a slightly darker complexion bear witness to the physical toll, but the memories etched in the corridors of HMI are a testament to a month that was not just educational but a symphony of inspiration, practicality, and sheer joy. In the grand scheme of life, those days at HMI stand as a pinnacle, a reminder that the pursuit of heights is not just about conquering mountains but discovering the peaks within ourselves.

hmi bmc trek

B&C specializes in providing premium-quality & safe mountaineering experiences around the world. We are committed to protecting & conserving the natural environment in which we operate . Our highly experienced support team & certified guides make for a hassle-free journey throughout.

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hmi bmc trek

hmi bmc trek

हिमालयन पर्वतारोहण संस्थान

Himalayan mountaineering institute, west bengal, india, may (you) climb from peak to peak सानो: सानुमारूहत्, admission page.

  • 3 ADVANCE COURSE
  • 5 ADVENTURE COURSE
  • 6 BASIC COURSE
  • 2 EXPEDITION
  • 1 METHOD OF INSTRUCTION
  • 1 SEARCH AND RESCUE COURSE
  • 5 SPECIAL COURSES ON ACTUAL COST

Course Name

201 (Men & Women combined)

Availability

39 Available

367 (Men only)

58 Available

Special Adventure Course for Visually Handicapped Persons / Under-Privileged Children

29 Available

09 Expedition to Mt Frey (Winter Climb)

13 Available

Winter Alpine Climbing Training

20 Available

200 (Men & Women combined)

259 (Boys & Girls; Men and Women)

202 (Men & Women combined)

260 (Boys & Girls)

70 Available

34 (Men & Women combined)

364 (Men & Women combined)

07 (Men & Women combined)

24 Available

366 (Men & Women combined)

262 (Boys & Girls; Men and Women)

363 (Women only)

12 Sports & Rock Climbing Course

19 Available

10 Expedition to Mt Frey

18 Available

13 Sports & Rock Climbing Course

261 (Boys & Girls; Men and Women)

362 (Men & Women combined)

365 (Men & Women combined)

Winter Trek to HMI Base Camp 15 days

14 Sports & Rock Climbing Course

hmi bmc trek

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE Govt. of India

Ministry of youth affairs & sports govt. of india, youth service department govt. of west bengal.

The Institute is jointly run by the Government of India and the Government of West Bengal. It is governed by an Executive Council (EC) headed by the Defence Minister as its president and the Chief Minister of West Bengal as Vice President. Among the officials, the Joint Secretary from the Ministry of Defence and the Principal Secretary, Sports & Youth Services. The government of West Bengal is the secretaries of the Institute. Representatives of various ministries both at the centre and the state government are the members of the executive council.

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Contact Details

HIMALAYAN MOUNTAINEERING INSTITUTE , Jawahar Parvat, Darjeeling – 734101. West Bengal, India. Call : +91 – 76022 15312 (Training Office) Email : [email protected]

Account Details

A/c Name : Principal, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute A/c No. 10833276127 NEFT IFS Code: SBIN0000063 MICR Code No 734002102 SWIFT code: SBININBB335

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Peak Climbing, Snow Craft & Glacier Training at HMI Base Camp – Basic Mountaineering Course

Glacier Training at HMI

Our glacier training at HMI Base Camp was about to start and we were all set to learn all the techniques and perform all the activities that were scheduled.

In case you haven’t checked the previous blogs then scroll down and find all the blog links.

Glacier Training at HMI Base Camp

So now it was the time to get excelled in the Ice Craft and Snow Craft training so that we could become a complete mountaineer. Our training was scheduled to start from the next day after we reached the base camp. On the first day, we just trekked up to the midway to have a glimpse of the Rathong Glacier and surrounding peaks. We had a lecture on the surroundings in which our instructor told us about the mountain peaks and their history which were situated around the Rathong Valley. In the evening, we were given crampons and were taught how to fix it on snow boots and walk with it.

Lecture on surroundings

The next day was the very first day of our glacier training. Everyone was excited including me as it was the first time I was going on a glacier. Our training schedule included 4 days of glacier training in which we had to do so many activities.

The training area was Rathong Glacier, the source of the Rathong River. To reach the glacier, we used to do a trek of 3 hours. The trek to the glacier from the base camp was moderate but after wearing snow boots, it used to become difficult. We had to negotiate our way through the big boulders, frozen river, scree, moraine, and almost every kind of terrain. The most unique experience was when we used to cross the frozen river. Sometimes during the sunny day, the uppermost layer of ice of the frozen river used to get melted and it seemed us as we are walking on a soft ice mattress. During that time, our instructor advised us to walk slowly and 3-4 persons at a time on that frozen river. It was a bit scary but a thrilling experience.

It usually took us around 2.5 to 3 hours to reach the glacier from the base camp. After reaching the glacier, we were asked to put on the harness seat and crampons without any rest and then we used to start with the training.

While trekking to the glacier

Our Glacier Training at HMI included

  • Coordination of ice ax and crampons
  • Pick and toe method
  • Side traversing
  • Ice wall climbing up and down with the help of ice ax and crampons
  • Rappelling on an ice wall
  • Crevasse rescue ( Z-pulley system and single pulley system)
  • Making anchor base (linear, triangular and rectangular)

Our training duration was around 4 hours in which we used to do continuous training. The most tiring was climbing on the ice wall. We used to get completely drained out after coming down. It was really challenging to do that intense training at 15,600 feet in the cold weather having lesser oxygen.

Rathong Glacier

Training at Advance Base Camp

Apart from the glacier training, one day we also went to Advance Base Camp for activities such as long phase rappelling and self-arrest techniques. The advance base camp was situated at an altitude of 15,500 feet. The trek from base camp to advance base camp was 3 hours long. When we reached there, it started snowing there but still, our activities did not pause.

Out of all the activities, the long phase rappelling was a real thrill. We had to rappel down 200 feet from a rocky cliff and that too in the snowfall. Due to dense fog and clouds, we couldn’t even see anything. Some trainees got scared and refused to do it. During my turn, I just set the half descender and started rappelling without seeing down. The main challenge in the rappelling was the overhang that we had to locate and negotiate the same. Fortunately, I did it in the correct way and successfully reached down.

After doing the rappelling, we had tea and Britannia cake and then we started with the self-arrest technique. Initially, we were wondering that how would we do it in the snowfall but when we attempted, it was fun. In layman’s language, self-arrest is a technique used to stop or block your body while falling on a slope or snowy mountain. Later we trekked back to our base camp.

Reaching the advance base camp

Height Gain Activity

After completing all the training at the base camp, we were left with our last task that was height gain. In this activity, we had to climb a mountain peak. Initially, it was not declared which peak we were going to climb. There are mainly two peaks that basic course trainees climb, which are Renok (16500 feet) and BC Roy (18,200 feet). The chief instructor announced in the morning that we were going to climb the BC Roy peak. The day before the climb, we were given toffees, juice, dry fruits, cake, biscuits so that we could feed ourselves during the climb.

Energy boosters for the peak climbing

The timings were 4, 5 & 6 and at 6 AM we started our climb. We took the route going towards the Kabru Dome peak and started moving along the stream. We crossed that river stream and continued our walk over a ridge. The ridge was steep so we were trying to maintain the rhythm between our walking and breathing. After crossing the ridge, we came across a wall on which there were fixed ropes. From this point, our technical climb was about to start. I was feeling tired, so I decided to take rest for a couple of seconds and then put on the harness seat. Our chief instructor Lakpa Sir was continuously shouting on us and saying “ hurry! Walk fast otherwise I will leave you and you will not be able to climb the peak” .

Climbing route to the BC Roy Peak - Glacier Training at HMI

After listening to the instructor, I did not take the rest and set the self-anchor with the carabiner and began the technical climb. There were four breakpoints where we had to change the ropes. After around 40 minutes of climb, ropes ended and steep climb started on a route full of snow and boulders. I was climbing slowly as I was having a severe cough due to which everyone was ahead of me, except 11 trainees. We 12 were walking slowly.

When we reached the base of BC Roy Peak, we got news from Norbu that the chief instructor asked us to stop there. Due to our slow speed, our instructors took this decision. We did not argue because we knew that we were not in that condition to summit the peak. We were feeling bad but we made up our mind and decided to have a photo with the flag. This was the first time I reached 17,200 feet.

Trekking down from the BC Roy Peak - Glacier Training at HMI

After all this, we started descending towards the basecamp. While climbing down from the base of BC Roy peak, there was no instructor with us. We crossed the trekking part by normal downhill walk. Though it wasn’t that easy as the terrain was slippery due to melting snow. When the fixed rope came, initially we wondered which technique should we use to climb down? After thinking for a couple of minutes, we decided to rappel down and we set the half descender and started rappelling. The technique that we applied was not suggested on that terrain but we did it and came down safely. We reached the base camp by evening and we were completely discharged by that time. Later in the evening, we congratulated all the trainees who successfully summited the peak.

Other activities we did at the base camp

  • Sequence climbing
  • Double jumaring
  • Suspension traverse
  • Tyroline traverse

While doing Double Jumaring - Glacier Training at HMI

Trek back to Yuksom – Glacier Training at HMI

Now our glacier training at HMI base camp was completed and we were given a rest day before leaving the base camp. The next day morning, we started our trek to Tshoka. We skipped the campsite Dzongri and directly trekked down to Tshoka. After staying for a night, we departed for Yuksom on the next day by early morning. We reached Yuksom by noon and after having lunch, we boarded the car and started our journey back to Darjeeling. We reached Darjeeling by late evening.

The next and the last blog explains the Last days at HMI and graduation ceremony.

While trekking back to Yuksom from the HMI Base Camp

Here are all the blogs regarding my HMI journey.

  • Part 1 – How I came to know about this course?
  • Part 2 – Exploring Darjeeling
  • Part 3 – Life & Training at HMI Darjeeling
  • Part 4 – Rock Craft Training at HMI Darjeeling
  • Part 5 – Trek to HMI Base Camp in West Sikkim
  • Part 6 – Reaching Chaurikhang Base Camp
  • Part 7 – Life & Training at HMI Base Camp
  • Part 8 – Peak Climbing, Snow Craft & Glacier Training at HMI Base Camp
  • Part 9 – Last Days and Graduation Ceremony

Hope you enjoyed reading the blog. In case of any suggestions, improvements, or any queries, please let me know in the comments. 🙂

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Manu Khandelwal

An engineer and a travel blogger. Loves trekking and doing bike road trips. Burger lover (want to try every burger in the world). Clinomaniac. Sports fanatic. Likes technology but not a technology addict.

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Wow!! Just what i wanted to read before my course! I am going to NIM this October.. super excited ����

Great! Thanks for all the info. What was the cost of the basic course and what is the selection criteria?

Thanks and all the best 🙂

Cost was INR 7750 including everything and there is no such selection criteria only a medical test happens that you have to pass.

A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a good one.

I like reading posts about traveling to mountains and different experiences. This is very good that there are so many photos at your blog and we can feel the real atmosphere of mountains and winter weather. I've seen a lot of different reviews on Ninjaessays.com about this region but this one is one of the best ones. Thank you for writing in this manner.

[…] trainingPart 6 – Trekking to HMI Basecamp at ChaurikhangPart 7 – Life at HMI Base CampPart 8 – Rock Craft and Ice Craft Training at HMI Base Camp Part 9 – Graduation Ceremony at HMI […]

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hmi bmc trek

Rash Travel Musings

I believe in mountains just as people believe in heaven

Basic Mountaineering Course at HMI Darjeeling – Part One

Basic mountaineering course to me was a huge learning opportunity. As they say “life is the best teacher” so I chose to go some extra mile to learn as much as possible by signing up for this course. This is a 28-day course through which we get to undergo rigorous training at the end of which we would have learnt basics of rock climbing, ice climbing, various theoretical aspects like mountain hazards, illness, flora and fauna, mountain terminology and other knowledge which a mountaineer should know before going into the wild.

I was waiting for this course since 2 years almost and mine got postponed 2 times because of Covid and this was the 3rd time. This time I was allotted an all-girls batch which was really exciting. I couldn’t believe it until I reached HMI campus that the day had really arrived!

Basic Mountaineering course at HMI Darjeeling

Day1 – Reaching HMI Campus: I landed at Bagdogra airport and with 2 other girls we got a direct cab to HMI Darjeeling which is around 71kms and 2.5-3 hours by road depending on the traffic. The cab charges are somewhere from 2-3k per car. As soon as we reached the institute we stood in a queue to submit our documents which was told to us – Vaccination certificates, Medical fitness certificates, Covid declaration forms and few others.

Once the formalities were done, we were allotted rooms and given bedsheets, pillow covers, a steel glass and a spoon. These things we had to carefully use/keep and had to submit at the end of our course to get clearance. In a room/dorm there are 6 people so we met and got to know each other for the rest of the day.

hmi bmc trek

2nd day on-wards our schedule started which was a combination of both theoretical and practical classes starting from 6am to 8pm. On first day itself we were divided into “ropes” which is basically teams, each team consisting of 5-6 members as in total we were 35 girls. We were addressed by our course instructor who is in-charge of the course and each of the ropes were assigned a rope instructor each.

We were also taken for a round around the campus getting to know everything. HMI was Founded on November 4th, 1954 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, to commemorate the first successful ascent of Mount Everest by late Tenzing Norgay Sherpa & Sir Edmund Hillary. The campus is inside a Zoo and houses a museum, shop, canteen, hostel, a classroom, a library, an auditorium and few statues of well-known mountaineers.

ISSUE OF EQUIPMENT: This was such an exciting part of our day, when all the 14 equipment’s were issued to us – Rucksack, Mess tin, Sleeping bag, Liner, Down jacket, Wind proof upper and lower, Harness, Rappelling mittens, Carabiners, Sling, Jumar, Helmet, Balaclava, Gaiters and Water bottle.

Basic mountaineering course at HMI

Apart from this to pack we were told by the instructors to buy a 2m long plastic cover and pack all our things inside it in the rucksack, this would keep our clothes dry and help in case the bag would get wet because of snow during our base camp trek. This cover you can buy in the shop inside the campus, it was indeed very helpful.

Our general timetable used to be like this:

5am – Bed tea – Have to go to canteen to take it if needed

6am – Fall in for PT – Have to run 5km and on alternate days we were made to do one hour yoga post the run

7.30am – Breakfast

8am on-wards our classes start

1pm – Lunch

8pm – Dinner

We also had to undergo medical checkup in-house 2-3 times and there was a medico who was available for us to go if required throughout the course.

The entire BMC can be divided into 3 parts: Rock craft, Snow craft and Glacier training.

First 8 days was ROCK CRAFT TRAINING. We were taken to “Tenzing Rock” for training which is around 2km from the campus. Each rope was given few ropes and other equipment responsibility and we had to carry it in our rucksack till the rock during trainings.

We learnt about different rope knots, rope coiling and harness fitting. In the Tenzing rock we had 4-5 routes for basic course where we were on belay (safety rope) and practiced rock climbing (Chimney climbing too). Also learnt rappelling which seemed scary at the beginning but once you get the hang of it, it’s great fun!

Basic mountaineering course at HMI

Day4- Today was our Physical fitness trial day and for this we had to trek with our rucksacks to Tiger Hill. This trek is of total 22kms. We all were shown in a class how to pack our rucksacks and we all prepared accordingly. This trial trek was to make ourselves known if we have packed our bags wrongly or the straps are not fitted or if we are not comfortable with anything so that we can resolve these things before our actual fitness test in 2 days.

Our total bag weight must have been somewhere around 15kgs and we left to Tiger Hill around 6.30am in the morning. The entire route is via cement road and we all had worn our high ankle heavy trekking shoes which caused blisters for most of us – for some it helped as it made sure they broke into their new shoes and they would not get blisters again during base-camp trek.

After a day’s break we had our main Physical fitness test on Day 6 – To Pandem Tea Estate. It was informed to us while applying for the course as well on this day that those who fail to complete this trek on communicated time will not be allowed to continue the course so we were really tensed for this from Day1. The trek is total 13kms and we were given 3 hours to complete it, anyone who was reaching even 1-5min after the time were asked to return.

Basic mountaineering course at HMI

This test was actually introduced just a few years back after the instructors faced a few troubles with the trainees during the base-camp trek which is actually one of the toughest trails. It’s because if people are not able to cope with this trek then they mostly cannot cope with the gruel base-camp trek either and this will cause more logistics trouble to the team. For this trek we had to pack all the equipment’s issued to us along with other things and we had to weigh our bags; minimum weight was to be 12kgs excluding the water bottles. Our bag was to be weighed again after the trek to make sure its the same.

We were advised by one of the instructors not to wear our heavy trekking shoes and wear sports shoes instead which we were using for PT. As this was time based we wouldn’t be able to walk fast enough with trekking shoes and this tip was really our savior. The first thing as soon as we left HMI in the morning everyone was literally running to make sure they reach back in time, seeing this even we had to run holding our heavy bags to make sure we are also not left behind. The trail is also on cement road 30-45min continuous downhill and then 2 hours+ of steep uphill. We hardly took any break in this entire duration as we all wanted to reach HMI in time at any cost. All of us started together but everyone got spread out the entire length of the trail where there was a big gap between us. There were instructors standing at each corner of the road to give us directions and to make sure we were on the right track – also to motivate us 🙂

Finally at the end of this trek out of 35 girls, 5 of them couldn’t qualify this test and had to return.

Day7 – Today was our last day of Rock craft at Tenzing rock and we had to do long face rappel i.e, rappel down a huge rock and had to jump at a cliff part of it to avoid the rock face and land appropriately. This was so much scary and fun at the same time! Apart from this we also learnt different other kinds of rappelling and practiced them.

We were given extra one hour free today to buy and pack only the necessary things in our rucksack as we had to leave for base camp the next day. Our base camp is located at Sikkim and that is where the remaining of the training – Snow craft and glacier training and all the practical applications of what we learnt in our theory classes would take place. We were both excited and scared at the same time as we had heard the difficulties of the trek + heavy backpack of 18kgs + High-altitude region.

Here is Part 2 of the BMC series click here to read about the Basecamp trek.

Do let me know in the comment section if you liked the blog and would like to know more or anything in particular about BMC at HMI Darjeeling.

Head to my Instagram @ rashtravelmusings to see more of BMC added in my highlights.

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Published by rashtravelmusings

Hello! I am a traveller, outdoor lead, basic skier who loves to be amongst nature and outdoors the most. I majorly like to travel solo and interact with new people and learn from their experiences. This blog is a platform through which I will share all my experiences which I encountered during my travel and also some tips which I think will be relevant with people having same thoughts as mine. I also run a YouTube channel where you can find a few videos from my travel experiences. But I believe a video cannot cover all the minute details which I will be sharing across this blog. Do share and support if you like it :) View all posts by rashtravelmusings

6 Comments Add yours

  • Pingback: Reaching HMI Basecamp – Dzongri Trek Route – Basic Mountaineering Course – Rash Travel Musings

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Hi, Came across your article around BMC ar HMI and thanks for the little insights on the course and the challenges one faces. My wife and I have our course next month and this will help us prepare better. We had one question regarding the luggage/bag you bring along with you to the campus. Since they give you a rucksack, can you leave your personal bag at the HMI campus or you need to carry that with you too? Cheers, Shyam

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Hi, yes whatever the luggage you bring you get a room to keep all the course mates luggage over there and during the base camp are required to carry ONLY bare minimum. All the best for your course 😊

Thanks for the reply! Looking forward to the course.

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Hey, Thanks for listing out the details of the course. can you let me know whether institute asks us to leave in the last training day or the next day, just wanted to know this, so that i can book the return tickets properly.

Hey thanks for reading 😊 You can leave on last day (graduation day) after lunch or also the next day

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Himalayan High

Where should I do my Basic Mountaineering and Advanced Mountaineering Course in India?

Mountaineering training in india - a bigger picture.

Himalayan High team climbing Kang Yatse in Ladakh

The Geography of India is very diverse and has everything from ocean to mountains, desert to forests and villages to urban landscapes. India is blessed to have the mighty Himalayas standing on its entire northern and north eastern borders. This same fact undoubtedly makes India one of the best places in the world to learn and practice the sport of mountaineering. Mountaineering involves real dangers and sometimes climbers have to face life or death situations on the mountains. But this does not mean that there is no way to deal with those risks. That's why the sport of mountaineering is so fascinating and that's where the mountaineering training comes in. If you receive good training first, then practice and enhance your skills and consider safety as paramount in every situation, you'll always remain safe on any mountain and you'll be confident while climbing.

India is really one of the leaders in the field of mountaineering and Indians have always been fascinated by the Himalayas. That's why the first mountaineering training institute in India was opened in 1954, just one year after the first ever successful summit climb of Mt. Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Almost all of the mountaineering training institutes in India are quite good with very experienced instructors and overall good facilities.

So, if you are looking to start your mountaineering journey by doing a basic training course, look no further. There is no place better than India and the Himalayas to learn the nuances of climbing a mountain.

Available Training Courses

As the title of our article suggests, we are going to discuss the options of doing a Basic mountaineering course and Advanced mountaineering course in India in detail. But the article is a bit more comprehensive to help those who have little to no knowledge of mountaineering training. So let us tell you briefly about all the training courses in mountaineering that are available in any institute.

  • Basic Mountaineering Course:  This is the first training course to be done to start mountaineering. This does not have any pre-requisite or any required experience to attend this training. But for all the institutes, generally the age of a trainee should be 18-40 years. A good level of physical fitness is also required to successfully complete Basic training or any other training course of mountaineering. BMC involves a lot of class room training and field training as well. This introduces a trainee to almost all the basic concepts of climbing, working with a rope and climbing equipment etc. Rock climbing, ice climbing, glacier walk, altitude gain, rescue, first aid and mountain medicine will all be a part of this training. Course duration is generally 28 days and there are few small exams at the end of the course to evaluate the trainees and they are given certificates with grades.
  • Advanced Mountaineering Course:  Advanced Mountaineering Course (AMC) can be done only after obtaining an 'A' grade in BMC. As name suggests, this course teaches you more advanced and practical ways of climbing. This again includes everything from rope work, equipment, rock craft, ice craft, negotiating boulders and crevasses, advanced techniques like ladder launching and multiple ways of rope fixing, expedition planning, navigation and rescue etc. This training course brings you much closer to the real world climbing and expedition planning. In some institutes, there is even an actual expedition of considerable difficulty as a part of training which trainees have to plan and execute under the supervision of their instructors. This is a really good training if you want to consider doing serious mountaineering expeditions in future. The duration of this training is again generally 28 days and age limit is also same as 18-40 years.
  • Search and Rescue Course:  Search and Rescue Course is mostly intended for already active mountaineers who participate in or lead serious climbing expeditions. This can be done only after obtaining an 'A' grade in AMC and it is good to have some climbing experience before attending this course. Not all the mountaineering institutes conduct SNR course. Rather than climbing, this training course focuses on the techniques of navigation, search and rescue in the mountains. The course has many practical drills mimicking real life situations where you need to search and rescue lost climbers or injured members of a climbing team. Emergency response and mountain medicine is a big part of this training. Trainees also learn how to rescue and bring back injured climbers over varying terrain and with different number of rescuers available. There are many interesting elements involved like river crossing, map reading, GPS navigation, navigation at night etc. The duration of this training is generally 21 days.
  • Methods of Instruction:  This training course can also be done after obtaining an 'A' grade in AMC. As name suggests, this takes you on a path of becoming an instructor to others. So it is intended to teach the methods of instruction to mountaineers if they are interested in becoming an instructor in the field of mountaineering. This has good amount of classroom training and field training which gives you the knowledge and some experience to teach others. Duration of this course is also generally 21 days.

Mountaineering Institutes in India

Having talked about the available training courses, we'll now focus on the next most important thing, the institutes. So here is a list of major institutes conducting mountaineering training courses in India.

  • Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM), Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand.
  • Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling, West Bengal.
  • Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (ABVIMAS), Manali, Himachal Pradesh.
  • Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering & Winter Sports (JIM & WS), Pahalgam, Jammu & Kashmir.
  • National Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (NIMAS), Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Indian Himalayan Centre for Adventure & Ecotourism (IHCAE), Chemchey, Sikkim

Please note that this list of institutes is not in any particular order. This is also not a complete list of all the mountaineering institutes in India. These are the major and well known institutes. Apart from these, there are several other institutes as well like Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering in Gulmarg, Jammu & Kashmir. But it was not included in the list above as it is better known for its skiing training.

Brief Details About Mountaineering Institutes

  • NIM, Uttarkashi:   NIM is one of the most prestigious mountaineering institutes in India. Established in 1964, it offers all the 4 training courses. It has one of the best training facilities, equipment and instructors too. Many instructors here are mountaineering veterans having decades of experience in the mountains. NIM is the only mountaineering institute in India certified by the international federation for climbing and mountaineering - UIAA. True to its motto "Success lies in courage", NIM really gives the best possible training to aspiring mountaineers and teaches them to be courageous and skilled in the mountains. The level of technical skills taught, the quality of training equipment and the instructors here are undoubtedly one of the best. NIM is also known for maintaining highest standards of discipline. The rock climbing training happens at Tekhla rock climbing area near the institute and most of the field training happens in the Dokriani Bamak glacier area. Because of its reputation, NIM is also a highly sought after institute and it can have fairly long waiting periods to join any course.

NIM website:  https://www.nimindia.net/

Glacier training at NIM

Picture Courtesy: NIM Website

  • HMI, Darjeeling:  Established in 1954, HMI is the oldest mountaineering institute in India. It is also one of the best. Some of the best known mountaineers in India have been a part of HMI and have also taught students here in the past. These legendary mountaineers include the stalwarts like Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the first person to climb Mt. Everest successfully in 1953 who became the first Director of field training at HMI and Sherpa Nawang Gombu, the first person in the world to climb Mt. Everest twice who also became the Director of field training at HMI later. HMI has a really glorious and rich history of promoting mountaineering in India. The instructors here today also carry loads of climbing experience with them and it is a real opportunity to learn from them. HMI is also known for its discipline and a brutal training regime, specially for basic mountaineering course. The trek to HMI base camp is considered the toughest among all training institutes. In last 4-5 years, HMI has upgraded a lot of their training equipment and the infrastructure at the institute has also been improved. Just like NIM, for HMI too there is generally a long waiting period before joining any course. HMI conducts all of their classroom training and rock climbing training at the beautiful institute campus in Darjeeling with the views of mighty Kanchenjunga looming large. All field training happens in West Sikkim at the Chowrikhang base camp, Rathong glacier and the Kabru massif area.

HMI website:  https://hmidarjeeling.com/

An artistic picture of HMI campus at Darjeeling

Picture Courtesy: HMI Website

  • ABVIMAS, Manali:  ABVIMAS is also a well known institute in Manali, Himachal Pradesh. It is not only present in Manali but it has total 9 sub centers across the state of Himachal Pradesh. Thus, it is the largest mountaineering institute in the country and has trained more than 40,000 students so far. Most of the instructors here are experienced and come from an Army background. Along with mountaineering, this institute teaches skiing and paragliding too to students. Available mountaineering courses here are BMC, AMC and Methods of Instruction course.

ABVIMAS website:  https://www.adventurehimalaya.org/

Glacier training at ABVIMAS, Manali

Picture Courtesy: ABVIMAS website

  • JIM & WS, Pahalgam:  JIM & WS was established in 1983 at Pahalgam in Jammu & Kashmir. This institute offers training in mountaineering and skiing and all 4 mountaineering courses are available here. The institute is run from 3 different centers. Like almost every mountaineering institute in India, JIM & WS also comes under the central ministry of defence and all the instructors here come from the 3 branches of Indian armed forces and mainly from Indian Army. So you should definitely expect the highest level of discipline and dedication.

JIM & WS website:  https://www.jawaharinstitutepahalgam.com/

JIM & WS campus at Pahalgam

Picture Courtesy: JIM & WS Website

  • NIMAS, Dirang:  NIMAS at Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh is the newest mountaineering training institute in India and it is the one creating maximum buzz right now. It is a unique institute offering training to students in Land, Water and air based adventure sports activities. It has brought many adventure sports on the same platform. It was established in the year 2013. Like other institutes, most of the instructors here are from the elite regiments of Indian Army. In mountaineering training, the ice climbing wall at Meerathang glacier is considered one of the best for students to learn ice wall climbing techniques. NIMAS offers all 4 mountaineering training courses to students. NIMAS is definitely worth a visit for every adventure enthusiast.

NIMAS website:  https://nimasdirang.com/

Ice climbing training at NIMAS, Dirang

Picture Courtesy: NIMAS website

  • IHCAE, Chemchey:  Established in 2009, this is also a new institute offering mountaineering training courses. IHCAE has been made in a small but pristine village of Chemchey in Sikkim. The Singalila range here offers excellent opportunities of climbing and this is a very beautiful and relatively unexplored area.

IHCAE website:  https://www.ihcaesikkim.org/

How to select a good mountaineering institute?

Now this is the core of the topic we are discussing here. As we have already said, all the training institutes are quite good but there are still few small factors which differentiate all institutes with each other. These factors are...

  • Waiting period to join a course: Higher waiting period indicates high demand and high quality of training. But if your personal situation doesn't allow you to wait much before joining a course, you've to consider the institute with less waiting period or no waiting period and this factor becomes most important for you.
  • Quality of training equipment and infrastructure:  Quality of equipment and training infrastructure both at the institute and in the field is very important and it is not very different in all the institutes. These things are good everywhere because climbing equipment is directly related to your safety. NIM is known for its safety standards. As pointed out earlier, HMI has also modernized much of its equipment and NIMAS is a totally new institute with good quality equipment and infrastructure. So these 3 stand out from the rest. Next, you can consider ABVIMAS as it is also quite good.
  • Quality and experience of instructors:  This is a factor which is almost same everywhere. Most of the instructors in all the institutes are from Indian Army. Many times, they are trained from High Altitude Warfare School of the Army. So they are very well trained mountaineers, strong athletes and they carry experience of climbing many big mountains and participating in expeditions. Some civilian instructors are also there who are often even more experienced. So instructors are fortunately good in every institute.
  • Structure and type of training:  This is the last and an important factor which differentiates the institutes. The technical part of the training is best at NIM. The method of teaching and the techniques of climbing at NIM are unmatched. NIM teaches students not just one technique but all possible ways of doing a particular climb or rappel for example. NIM takes AMC students to summit a peak as part of expedition planning during the course. This peak is usually Draupadi Ka Danda 2 (DKD2). This adds to valuable experience of students. The trek to NIM base camp is considered relatively easy. But waiting period for BMC and AMC is also usually longest.

On the other hand, HMI has really good training facilities at the institute campus and also the rock climbing area. Trek from Yuksom to Chowrikhang base camp in West Sikkim is probably the hardest base camp trek in all the institutes. But this is an advantage for the students because it also prepares them for big expeditions where participants need to ferry good amount of load for many days in the mountains. BMC course at HMI definitely makes students tough physically and mentally. In AMC, HMI usually doesn't take students for a summit climb but they take them for altitude gain on the Kabru Dome peak. Glacier and ice climbing training happens on Rathong glacier and Kabru glacier which provide good training areas. Waiting period for BMC and AMC is usually quite long at HMI too.

Next are NIMAS and ABVIMAS. Both these institutes also offer fairly good infrastructure for training with experienced instructors. At these institutes too, all the important technical aspects of training are definitely covered and the structure of training is more or less same as other institutes. So these are worth considering for BMC and AMC. Waiting periods at these two institutes can be much lesser compared to NIM and HMI.

Which course is better where and why?

The sport of mountaineering is not only about following techniques or only brute physical strength. A successful mountaineer needs a good mix of many different skills. A good mountaineer would need carefully practiced and developed climbing skills, the physical capabilities of a professional athlete and a sharp brain to take right decisions in the most difficult and inhospitable situations to take care of self and others. All this makes a good climber. So ideally, to acquire all the skills, we suggest one to have different experiences in the training too.

As discussed, NIM and HMI are two top mountaineering institutes in India without a doubt. If a complete beginner goes to HMI, it will feel like a little brutal place honestly. Sometimes, one might think that the training is too hard. But trust me on this, this training experience at HMI will give you a good glimpse of what mountaineering is really about. HMI will teach you discipline in the mountains. It will teach you that climbing mountains is not easy, it is supposed to be difficult. It will bring you in the right mindset by combining technical training with tough physical challenges. You will become physically and mentally tougher. All the days will have a packed schedule and training will be intense. So this HMI experience must not be missed by any aspiring mountaineer and we recommend everyone to do their basic course (BMC) from HMI.

When it comes to AMC, we recommend to do this from NIM. Because as already said, NIM is the best institute in the technical aspect of the training. The importance of technical skills in safe climbing is obviously huge. So after doing a basic course, when you've understood the sport of mountaineering at a basic level and you decide to go for the advanced training, you must experience it at NIM. Training at NIM will thus make you a complete and sufficiently trained mountaineer. You'll have a good experience of the technical training and physical part. You'll train with many different instructors at different glaciers and regions. And doing AMC from NIM will give you an opportunity to plan an expedition and climb to the summit of DKD2 during the course itself. Then you'll be hopefully ready to join real expeditions in the Himalayas. After this training, the rest will be up to you. More practice and experience will make you a better climber.

Our Final Opinion

Although, we have said this several times that all mountaineering institutes in India listed here are quite good. They all operate under the ministry of defence. They have really good and experienced instructors and training courses are well structured. But if we must list them in an order of preference, it will be like this:

1. NIM    2. HMI    3. NIMAS    4. ABVIMAS    5. JIM & WS    6. IHCAE

The most preferred way would be to do the BMC course from HMI and AMC from NIM. So you must plan and target to do your training like this. If due to any reason like waiting period or something else, you can't follow this approach. Then you can definitely do one of the courses from NIMAS or ABVIMAS too. They are also almost as good as NIM or HMI. In this case, you should try to do your second course from NIM or HMI, preferably AMC from NIM.

Apart from this, pay attention to your physical fitness before going for any mountaineering training. It will help you a long way in finishing your training successfully and achieve your best. Good Luck !

Altitude gain at Kabru Dome peak during AMC training at HMI

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Mera Peak Trekking Expedition

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Kedarkantha Trek

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Everest Three Passes Trek

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Bali Pass Trek

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Sandakphu Trek

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View User Profile for Suman

Every day I keep learning new things, but as of now, I think I can describe myself as a Loyal Himalayan Lover, Avid Trekker, Student Of Mountaineering, Amateur Photographer and an Enthusiastic Anthropologist. I am a Computer Science Engineer by education and previously worked as a Software Developer for premium IT companies. However, I quit the luxury of a high-earning corporate job and left behind the herd to walk towards the spiritual path laid down by the Godly Himalayas. At the age of 27 with no savings at all and being the only son from a lower-middle-class family, it was too young to fight against the family who in turn had to fight against the rules laid down by society. However, with my determination and perseverance, everything became smooth by passing time.

It wasn't easy for me as I learnt the hard way from mistakes - my own and by observing others. I fought 2 major road accidents that broke my right tibia and femur. I underwent 7 surgeries that kept me away from the mountains, but I patiently fought them all to get back to trekking again in the Himalayas with rods and plates in my bones. Despite doctors saying I cannot walk properly ever again to getting back to trekking on the difficult routes again, Life made me understand very clearly what it wants out of me in this World. It wants me to serve the Himalayas and its community, live a peaceful, content and simple life. That's what I have dedicated my this life to. I am not religious, but spiritual. The Himalayas define my road.

The Himalayas today is spammed by mushrooming trek agencies and big companies who take pride in being India's Largest, biggest, oldest, etc. They are exploiting everything for the sake of profit. It is in dire need of regulation by credible Government authorities, Sustainable Tourism Practices needs to be forced upon every organisation, Small Group Sizes needs to be mandated, Fixed camping should be restricted in alpine zones and Negative Ecological Impact Trekking Protocols should be laid down immediately by governing bodies. With all these objectives, I founded Himalayan High in the year 2015. Learn more about Himalayan High on About Himalayan High

Yogesh Unavane

My world. uncompressed., hmi basic mountaineering course part-1.

Have waited for 3-years to get a chance to enroll for Basic Mountaineering Course and now finally I decided to chase my dream. I am truly inspired by Tenzing Norgay and Sir.Edmund Hillary for making  World’s First Mt. Everest summit in 1953. I am a big follower of Tenzing for Mountaineering and also he was First Director of Field Training of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute(HMI) in Darjeeling. And now that I know that, even Bear Grylls had taken Mountaineering training from HMI, and this attracts me even more to pursue this course, as I am a big follower of him.  I have also heard about rugged training which happens here and which I desire 😀 Finally I decided for enrolling and started contacting HMI office 16-months before the batch which i wanted as there are very limited numbers of civilians and most are from defence and I didn’t wanted to miss this opportunity. Had taken my Medical Check-up and filled my application and posted them my application along with course fees Demand draft on 08/01/2015. They confirmed my application within 2-days of my post delivery they have emailed me the approval. BOOOMMM…. this was an entry towards my dream 🙂

I was allocated HMI BMC 313 April 2016 Batch which i requested. Now only worried about leaves from Office 😛 Ahh… We can deal with it later. Getting confirmation, i have started preparation and planning for this course. I have already started a healthy diet plan and physical fitness i need to work on. Yaa I do lot of trekking in Sahyadris but i have a mental fear about rock climbing, there are lot of things need to work on and get prepared for the course. Also need to plan following few aspects from now :

  • Things to take along
  • Traveling to and fro
  • Physical fitness
  • Knowledge library

In the meantime, met with some folks who were also a part of this course, we quickly connected on Facebook and WhatsApp and started collecting and sharing information and preparations details.

Physical standards required to survive in the course with ease :

  • Minimum 1-hour of running or min 10K run with good pace(helps for trekking)
  • Upper body and lower body including back exercise(very helpful in climbing)

Learn knots and coiling :

Guideman Knot, Middleman knot, Bowline, Single Fisherman knot, Reef knot, Single/double sheet bend, Figure of eight, Clove hitch, Single/continental  rope coiling, Double/universal rope coiling

Things I brought with me :

HMI things to bring

HMI things to bring

Feb 2016, finally my manager approves leaves for this 1 month adventure and now I do have all items with me which are required.

On 3rd April 2016, I started my journey as my reporting day was on same day. Flew Mumbai-Delhi-Bagdogra. From Siliguri traveled to Darjeeling and reached HMI @8pm with Jeevan who was also in same course. We had dinner and some personal things like bedsheets, cup, spoon, bedsheet, blanket were allocated.

Watch the Video HMI BMC series part-1 : on my journey to reach HMI

Lemme introduce you quickly things around:

  • Groups are allocated based on regions and specialization which are called as Ropes.
  • ‘FALL IN’ means leave everything and assemble into your Ropes

In my course, we were total 87. Majority crowd was from local and from Maharashtra 😀  Sir.Lakpa Sherpa is our course director and all instructor are very well qualified in mountaineering.

HMI hostel

HMI Quadruple fall in area

Room mates Room No.2

Room mates Room No.2

Breakfast

Lunch or Dinner

Yoga class

Fall in at Quadraple

Dinning Hall

Dinning Hall

Lectures

Movie Hall or Lectures

Movie Hall or Lectures

lakpa sir hmi course director

And goes our Training schedule

HMI BMC Training schedule

HMI BMC Training schedule

HMI BMC Training schedule

Further course experience i will share in another parts.

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12 responses to “ hmi basic mountaineering course part-1 ”.

I want to know certain things regarding himalayan mountaineering institute course, bcaz I m planning to attend basic course..

Hi, I just wanted to know if you have any picture of Mr. Sangay Dorjee Sherpa. Please send any picture to [email protected] . I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

have you completed?

Yes. watch my video series HMI Basic Mountaineering Course 313 April 2016: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdGQxsiqZ_JihBKr094GMeeX494_jYPE7

yeah… really nice…

Hi. I am going for BMC in HMI (april batch). Can you suggest me some physical fitness excercise as currently i’m only doing running and trekking in areas around Mumbai.

If you could run 10K and can do around 30 push-ups, then you are fine to survive the course

Amazing accounts of the trek! I have added a link to the travel section of your blog in ‘Useful links’ post on my blog so that more trekkers can read your adventures! Cheers!

Hey I want to apply for the course . Should I fill the form and send the fees , there is no reply from them

Call them before sending form and fees to check availability and batch preference.

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hmi bmc trek

All You Need to Know Before You Sign up for a Basic Mountaineering Course

Photo of Disha Kapkoti

I signed up for a Basic Mountaineering Course at Nehru Institute of Mountaineering back in 2017. I had just quit my full-time job. To opt for a mountaineering course seemed like an obvious thing to do considering my interest in outdoors and all the free time I had.

I signed up and immediately realised that I got a course seat for the year 2019. My plans of quitting my job and 'finding my true self' through the struggles in the outdoors were put on hold due to the long wait list. I couldn't believe that I had to wait for two years to get into any premium mountaineering institute in India. We live in an overpopulated country and of course, ten thousand other people want the same thing as you.

Looks like I have perfectly entered a myth-busting mode now. So here's a list of things that I wish someone had told me before I signed up for the course. My days at NIM were the most enriching 28 days of my life and I wouldn't change it for the world. Some experiences and information would surely help you prepare yourself better for a course like this.

Where to apply for the basic mountaineering course?

NIM Uttarkashi, HMI Darjeeling, JIM & WS Pahalgam, ABVIMAS Manali and NIMAS in Dirang make it to the list of best mountaineering institutes in India. NIM and HMI are the oldest institutes in India and hence most desired ones. NIMAS is a relatively new institute and if you apply here the waiting time will be less. ABVIMAS offers the same course for a shorter duration and because of that many aspirants apply there.

Photo of All You Need to Know Before You Sign up for a Basic Mountaineering Course 2/5 by Disha Kapkoti

Click below for basic course schedules:

Nehru Institute of Mountaineering

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute Darjeeling

Course Fee:

The course fee at most of these institutes will be approximately Rs 14,000 to 18,500. It will be more for foreign students. You can email or call the institute for the information. The fee is subsidised for all and free for cadets who qualify for the course through NCC.

Medical examination

The trainees are required to go through a thorough medical examination before signing up for the course to minimise injuries during the training. If you're suffering from the following diseases, please refrain from applying for the course ( as listed on JIMS website )

(a) Cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

(b) History of pleurisy or asthma.

(c) Frequent attacks of pharyngitis or sinusitis.

(d) BP should not be more than 140 mm Hg Systolic and 90 mm Hg Diastolic.

(e) Chest expansion should be 5 cm or above.

(f) Students should not be suffering from osteoarthritis, sacrosciatic syndrome, in growing toenails, multiple corn, internal derangement of knee, inguinal hernia, varicose veins and recurrent dislocation of shoulder joints.

(g) Student should not be an old case of High Altitude Illness/ Cold injury.

You will also undergo a thorough medical checkup on reaching the institute. If you suffer from any injury or illness during the course, the institute can stop you from participating any further.

How to prepare?

HMI Drajeeling has come up with a great twelve week pre-course workout routine that can help you prepare for the basic mountaineering course in the best way possible. Click here for the link. However it's essential to know that fitness at sea level and fitness at high altitude are two different ballgames. Before you sign up for a course like this it would be helpful if you have adequate experience in high altitude.

Photo of All You Need to Know Before You Sign up for a Basic Mountaineering Course 3/5 by Disha Kapkoti

Language can be an issue during your training. Trainees from all parts of India join along with some foreigners. Depending on the location of the institutes and the comfort of the instructors, the courses will be conducted either in English or Hindi. If you have trouble understanding either of these languages, please do get in touch with the authorities beforehand and get information about it. Sign up only if you're well-versed in the language that your course is going to be conducted in. Otherwise you can choose a different institute.

Why you want to do this?

For different individuals there can be different reasons to get enrolled in a course like this. If you wish to pursue mountaineering as a career then this is the first step. It's a great opportunity for hobbyists too. You can get job opportunities like trek leaders or outdoor educators. However, it's essential to learn more and pursue Advanced Mountaineering Course, Search and Rescue and Method of Instruction training if you wish to pursue a career in this field.

Photo of All You Need to Know Before You Sign up for a Basic Mountaineering Course 4/5 by Disha Kapkoti

What do we learn during this course?

During my 28-day course at NIM, Uttarkshi, we were divided into ropes/groups and were assigned an instructor who was our teacher incharge during the course. This instructor also gives you a grade at the end of the course. During the training equal number of days were dedicated to learning rock craft, snow craft and ice craft. The course started off by introducing us to artificial wall climbing at the NIM campus and then proceeded to natural rock climbing at the Tekla Rock Climbing Area in Uttarkashi. It is important that you attend each course everyday since you're graded based on your performance each day. Missing the classes even for a few days due to any sort of sickness or injury might affect your grade.

As the course proceeded, we went on a trek to the Dokrani Bamak Glacier Base Camp where we learnt ice craft and snow craft during the remaining number of days. Everyday the schedule required us to hike to the training area and walk back to the basecamp. The training was not just about physical activities but we were also required to attend lectures on topics like mountain manners, first aid, flora and fauna, and rescue. At the end of the course there is also a written test.

During the course you are also assessed by your instructors on your general behavior with your coursemates, punctuality and dedication towards learning. The day starts each day at 4am with a loud alarm and ends at 9pm. Most of your time is spent with your coursemates and any disagreement and argument with your peers is not seen in a good light. You're required to maintain quite a zen mode throughout these 28 days.

At the end of the course there's a height gain trek to Macha Dhar at 15200 feet. Each rope is given limited time to complete this task and reach the set altitude. Your course is considered complete only if you have completed this final height gain activity. You can proceed ahead to Advance Mountaineering Course only if you score an A grade in BMC.

Photo of All You Need to Know Before You Sign up for a Basic Mountaineering Course 5/5 by Disha Kapkoti

Can I call myself a mountaineer after BMC?

You can but don't! Grade A from premium mountaineering institute sure does qualify you to call yourself a mountaineer but if you talk to any experienced mountaineers they will stop you from using this term loosely. You need to climb enough mountains to call yourself a mountaineer. Basic course is just the first step in this long journey.

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