Great Himalayan Climb: Story of the 1965 India's Expedition's Record-breaking Triumph of Everest - Capt. M S Kohli

Great Himalayan Climb

Story of the 1965 Indian Expedition’s Record-breaking Triumph of Everest.

It was for the first time in the history of Everest that a summit attempt was launched so early in the season; as it happened the team reached the goal in 85 days and the Indian Tricolour fluttered on the Summit on the morning of May 25, 1965.

Fifty years ago, in 1965 nine brave hearts, supported by ten gallant colleagues, unfurled the Indian Tricolour four times on top of the world, inspiring a whole new generation and opening floodgates of adventure and mountaineering in India.

The entire world sat up and took notice of this record-breaking achievement. Members of the team arrived at the Delhi airport to an ecstatic welcome by the then Prime Minister of India and members of his cabinet. Congratulatory messages poured in from Alpine Clubs around the world.

‘You can be proud of the magnificent effort of the Indian expedition… to get four teams to the top is compliment to the leadership and the team spirit…’ wrote Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb the Everest. Tenzing Norgay, Hillary’s partner sent a personal message which said, ‘Congratulations on your success… Double congratulations to Nowang Gombu for having made the glorious record of climbing Everest twice…… May you climb from peak-to-peak.’

The leader of the Expedition was invited to address Members of the Parliament of both the Houses in the Central Hall. Chief Ministers of almost all States feted the team at the State capitals. To mark this triumph a special postage stamp and first cover was issued on 15 August 1965 by the Postal Department which carried the autographs of all members.

The account of the climb was published in 1980. In her foreword to the book, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wrote, ‘The record of Commander Kohli’s expedition will find special mention in history. It was a masterpiece of planning, organization, teamwork, individual effort and leadership’.

This Golden Jubilee commemorative volume brings alive the epoch-making and most celebrated triumph of Indian mountaineering.

Book Review

'Fifty years ago... they set out to make names for themselves, their country and to make history for all of us. It was heroic stuff. There was something pure and glorious in what they did.' Graham Bowley, The New York Times

'One cannot (but) marvel at the superb confidence and dauntless determination in the face of the terrible challenge to human endurance... They have secured for India a place of honour among the mountaineering nations. All honour to them.' Amrit Bazaar Patrika

'The nation offers a thunderous ovation for accomplishing a rare feat, the fourth time in human history, of standing on the world’s parapet.' Assam Tribune

'Congratulations to the Everest team on winning mountaineering’s most glittering prize. The achievement is not the less for not being the ‘first’ on the mountain. Everest may have lost some of its glamour, it has lost none of its defences.' The Hindu

'Due to the faith and optimism of this band of Indian heroes, their tenacity, skill and bravery that the tricolour is now fluttering from Mount Everest.' Deccan Herald

'The fascination of the Everest has been compelling. The arrogant peak has summoned men from many parts of the world, driven them crazy with its untamableness, its unpredictability, its awesome aloofness. The mountain’s crevasses hide the bones of dead men who came hopefully to conquer... It is an achievement that has thrilled the country and swelled national pride... adventure... of man against nature, of flesh against stone.' The Hindustan Times

'The Everest epic is a thrilling one; India has now added a special chapter. India salutes the gallant nine, so does the world. Nor do we forget the men who did not reach the peak but who made the way possible for those who did.'The Statesman

'It is a magnificent achievement that the entire world of mountaineering will be rightly proud of ... The heroic failure of Gyan Singh’s team and John Dias’s team may now be forgotten; indeed, as the late Major Dias said, there are no failures in mountaineering, every attempt adds a new dimension to experience. If Everest climbing were a sport, talking of records would be understandable. But this species of endeavour is of a different scale. Even as it brings out the high ideals and the nobility of human adventure, it serves as a reminder that besides a mountain all men are facelessly little. When all is said and done, it is not as team or expeditions or victories that we shall remember, the enduring picture that will linger is that of man versus a mighty mountain.' Times of India

'Hats off to Lt. Cdr. M.S. Kohli, Major N. Kumar and their team-mates for bringing glory to themselves and to the country...'Tribune


Capt. M S Kohli

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