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Tricolour scales new heights on Independence Day

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ALOFT: Major Kular and Lt. Ashta with the Tricolour on Mount Elbrus
ALOFT: Major Kular and Lt. Ashta with the Tricolour on Mount Elbrus

Bindu Shajan Perappadan

NEW DELHI: Mount Elbrus is a peak located on the western Caucasus mountains in Russia near the border of Georgia. On August 15, while India was celebrating Independence Day, two Indian Army officers -- Major Sarfraz Singh Kular and Lieutenant Ashish Ashta from 5 PARA -- scaled Mount Elbrus and hoisted the Indian flag.

Mount Elbrus is part of seven popular summits of the world and is known for its bad weather with temperatures going down to minus 70 degrees Celsius in winter. Last year a European team lost seven of its members while climbing the mountain.

Major Kular has the distinction of scaling the Nun Peak in the Northern Kargil sector in 2005 and he had also scaled the Uhuru Peak in Africa.

Speaking about the climb, Major Kular recalls: "As per our previous plan we were supposed to rest on August 15, but when we remembered the significance of the day we started our climb in the early morning. And when we reached the summit we felt proud hosting the national flag. It took us a total of five days to summit and reach back safely at the base.''

"We started our journey on August 9 and special climbing gear and equipment were provided by the Army Adventure Wing. Also, since Lt. Ashta was new in the area, he was given the necessary guidance and training in Congo. He was tested on rock craft on some of the rocky slopes of volcanic creators of Congo, but he still had missed out on ice craft training due to lack of snow in Africa. But I was confident about Lt. Ashta and we set out on the expedition during our leave period,'' adds Major Kular.

The duo travelled to Russia for their climb. The route was a difficult one to climb and is generally avoided by most mountaineers due to the high risk involved.

"It took us 13 hours to negotiate the glaciers and we were also the first to open the route this summer. We are happy with the effort,'' says Major Kular.

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