Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu felicitating Col Sarfraz and other members of the contingent

Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu on Friday flagged in the 31-member team from the National Institute of Mountaineering & Allied Sports (NIMAS) that summited one of the peaks of Mt Kangto range, the highest in the state, last month. Divided into three teams, while the first team reached the summit on September 26, the second and third teams got to the peak the next day.

Congratulating the team headed by NIMAS director Col Sarfraz, Khandu said the state is proud of their achievement as this is the first time in the known history that one of the Mt Kangto massifs has been conquered by man.

Of the 31-member team, 10 were Arunachal natives

He advised the team to stake claim formally for being the first team of a huge contingent of 31 members ever summiting a virgin peak counted among the highest in the world.

Col Sarfraz, who led the team to glory, informed that the range consists of seven peaks, the highest being Mt Kangto at 7,060 metres. The peak the NIMAS team conquered — Mt Kangto Six — stands at 6,060 metres. Rest of the peaks including Mt Kangto stand unconquered as of yet.

Khandu lauded NIMAS, especially under Col Sarfraz, for bringing laurels to the state while increasing its activities manifold. “Because of activities initiated by NIMAS, our state has benefited immensely. Today, our youths are taking up adventure sports like mountaineering seriously. The fact that this 31-member team consists of 10 Arunachalis is a befitting example of this fact,” he said.

Citing mountaineering as an important sector with regard to tourism prospects, Khandu said NIMAS, being based in Arunachal Pradesh at Dirang, ought to take on the responsibility of promoting it to boost tourism. He gave the example of Mt Everest, which has become the epitome of mountaineering and a major attraction for adventure tourists.

“Nepal’s tourism sector receives a major thrust every season because of Mt Everest. Likewise, we should also explore and earmark certain peaks that would attract adventure enthusiasts every season,” he pointed.

The CM suggested that NIMAS may take a lead in this direction not only in mountaineering but also in other fields like trekking, cycling, rock climbing, paragliding, mountain biking, zip-lining, etc.

Informing that the state government is organising several festivals across the state, Khandu urged the NIMAS director to take up adventure activities in these festivals that would add spice to the festivities and lure adventure tourists. He said that the state government is ready to collaborate with NIMAS in this direction.

“If we can do so we will not only be generating revenue but also create huge employment opportunities for our youths,” he said.

To begin with, he said NIMAS can join in the North East Festival, proposed to be held at Tawang sometime in December this year. He requested the director to collaborate with sports & youth affairs minister Mama Natung, who was also present during the flagging in, and plan in advance the activities it can take up during the festival.

Being the vice-president of NIMAS, the chief minister assured all support and cooperation to NIMAS and its future endeavours, one of which is the ambitious aim to summit Mt Kango next year.

Giving details of the expedition and the summit climb, Col Sarfraz said that it was one of the most difficult summits ever. Each member ferrying a load of 25 to 15 kg, opening routes, making eight logistics camps, crossing two virgin glaciers, travelling a total distance of about 300 km, makes it the toughest. Team members among whom were several Everesters and seasoned mountaineers too categorised the summit of Mt Kangto Six as the toughest of all so far.

Later, the chief minister felicitated the 31 team members with tokens of appreciation and certificates.

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