On top of the World: Colonel Ranveer Jamwal clinching records with every new expedition

He is the first from the Indian Army to climb the Seven Summits—the highest mountain peaks of the seven continents.
Colonel Ranveer Jamwal (Photo | Twitter)
Colonel Ranveer Jamwal (Photo | Twitter)

Colonel Ranveer Jamwal should figure on every list of the country’s current top mountain climbers. He is the first from the Indian Army to climb the Seven Summits—the highest mountain peaks of the seven continents. He has also climbed Mount Everest thrice. With three national records, two Asian records and an astonishing 45 expeditions under his belt, Jamwal is a force in mountaineering as an adventure sport.

Unlike most climbers whose passion for climbing starts young, Jamwal’s began at an advanced age. “Till the age of 26, I had not even heard of mountaineers and mountaineering. It was only when I was detailed in the Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM), Gulmarg, for army training, and I performed well, did I think of going on more mountaineering expeditions,” says Colonel Jamwal.

An initial expedition to a peak in India, however, humbled the mountaineer. “In 2009, I lost a finger to frostbite while climbing Mount Mana in Uttarakhand. It was after that experience that I took up mountaineering as a challenge. I wanted to regain my confidence,” he remarks. He made an effort to climb a minimum of two mountains every year. It is now a full-blown passion.

Jamwal’s penchant for mountaineering is not a quest for records, he says. It has evolved from a place of respect and admiration for the peaks. He recounts that he climbed three major mountains in three months in 2010 and there was no hullabaloo about the success of the feat. He states that the ‘trend’ of claiming mountaineering records began only a few years ago. “It was on the urging of my friends that I claimed my first record of climbing six mountains above the height of 20,000 feet in 10 days in 2019,” he says.

Jamwal credits the Indian Army for sparking his interest in the sport. “My journey in the army made me a mountaineer. It prepared me for everything I had to face in those difficult situations. It gave me the zeal, the fitness, the discipline and the passion to achieve any goal, be it short-term or long-term,” he asserts. 

Even his army training could not prepare him for what he would eventually encounter on a mountain peak. “Mount Everest will remain my toughest mountain ever. There is no other mountain which will have you cross deadly crevasses like the Khumbu Glacier, or a summit like Lhotse, which is at a 70-degree gradient and made of blue ice. Nowhere else will you see so many dead bodies while summiting,” he recalls.

Naib subedar Tsewang Chosgail, who climbed Everest with him in 2013, mentions how the team felt nervous before starting for the summit. “But we knew we were under able leadership with him [Col. Jamwal]. In the end, we felt happy and proud of our success,” he adds. 

Jamwal also highlights that in his 20 years of mountaineering, he has witnessed countless incidents where a fellow mountaineer’s help has proven to be crucial. “During an expedition to Mount Denali in Alaska, the highest mountain in North America, a deep crevasse that we were walking on, opened up and I was hanging from there. It would have been fatal for me had my climbing buddy not pulled me up immediately,” he points out. 

Colonel Jamwal also cares about conserving mountains. He has conducted cleaning campaigns on mountain tops. He also makes it a point to bring back every piece of paper, tin and plastic from his own expeditions. A surge in the number of climbers trying to summit peaks has led to a tragic amount of non-biodegradable plastic waste being gathered on mountaintops.

“Limiting the number of climbers is the only solution. Keeping the mountains offbound for a few years is also another suggestion,” he states. He, however, feels that the potential for young Indians to succeed in mountaineering is great. “We are fortunate that our country has good mountaineering institutes,” he says. “My advice to all young mountaineering enthusiasts is to start from the basics and then take small steps forward.”

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The New Indian Express