With Everest on Mind, Young Hikers Sparking Adventure in Kashmir Heights

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Kashmiri trekkers keen to unravel the treasures hidden in the majestic mountains of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir are fulfilling the dreams of peak lovers by conducting summits in the highest frozen heights.

By Zeenish Imroz

DANISH Dhaar and Amir Lateef, two GST—Goods and Services Tax—practitioners from Srinagar have started a non-profit club by the name of Jammu and Kashmir Mountaineering Foundation (JKMF) to make climbing accessible to youth for exploring the undiscovered treasures of Kashmir.

Along with their members, the duo is holding Sunday treks to make mountaineering a leisure activity for the adventure lovers.

The duo has already hosted groups to 50 different alpine lakes, out of the total 200-plus lakes in Kashmir including that of Nundkol, Gangabal, Tala sar, Sundarsar and have a forethought of exploring all the alpine lakes unravelled.

So far, the highest elevation the group has reached is that of Stok Kangri in Ladakh—the part of pre-August 5, 2019 Kashmir.

The summit was undertaken in late 2019 summer, when the atmosphere was very grim for adventure sports due to post abrogation lockdown in the valley.

Amid communication blockade, nine JKMF members left home and eventually climbed the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas in Ladakh with an altitude of 6,153m.

The peak, notably, is just 2,695m short of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world.

The essence of Ladakh, Amir says, is spiritual and relaxing. The prayer flags, he mentions, equally uplift the natural beauty of the place.

“We started trekking in the cold desert at 8am to reach the first camp called Manakorma at 5 in the afternoon,” he recalls. The temperature steeps to minus 8-degrees at night in late summers in the region.

The next day, the duo’s group reached the basecamp and left for summit push at 11pm so the ice is trekkable and the crevices aren’t dangerous, Amir continues.

“It was a beautiful night of full moon and the headlights weren’t needed,” he recounts his adventurous journey. “We trekked the whole night and reached the summit at 9 in the morning.”

The climb to the summit of Stok Kangri takes 10 days which the group finished in just three days!

To make trekking and mountaineering a leisure activity for Kashmiri youth, Danish Dhaar, back in 2018, had started JKMF as Harmukh Adventures. Since then, he has hosted many peak summits at Kashmir frozen heights.

His group, in July 2019, climbed the Sunset Peak which is the highest mountain of Pir Panjal Range. With an elevation of 2,745 metres, the peak is also known as Romesh Thong. 

The duo-led group has already climbed the Mahadev Peak, which is Srinagar’s highest peak, with an altitude of 3,966m in 2019, in a single day.

The group got recently affiliated with Peaks Alpines Adventures from North Kashmir and is planning to connect with schools and colleges so the children take the adventure sport as a co-curricular activity.

The group also plans to climb Mount Everest and shift from trekking to mountaineering for which it plans to sponsor courses for their members of Sunday treks.

Driven by the “catch them young” motto, the duo mainly focuses on influencing schools and students—“so that Kashmir in near future produces its own mountain stars on the global platform,” Danish asserts.

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