Siachen Base Camp

By Sanjeev Nayyar esamskriti@suryaconsulting.net | 2016

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My dream of visiting Siachen Base Camp came true in August 2016 We left Leh at 7 ish, stopped by Khardungla/Diskit Monastery/Nubra before driving to a army station. Reached about 8 pm, it was pitch dark and very cold. View somewhere in base camp.

Drive to the base camp is scenic - mountains of different shapes and designs with snow clad peaks too. Pics 1 to 16 are of base camp and 17 to 27 are of glacier.

Labourers enroute to base camp. Based on our brief conversation it is most likely they were Bangladeshis.

Entrance to the revered O P Baba shrine ie part of the base camp.

Story behind O P Baba shrine. Every one who goes for a glacier posting first pays respect at the O P Baba shrine. Such is the faith.

There is a room which has all Gods. In that room is also respected O P Baba whom you see.

Room inside shrine. In centre is Mother Goddess, right of pic is Mecca, left is Jesus, Buddha and Ganesha too. Can you think of any army in the world that offers respect to all Gods that too in a country where nearly 80% of the population consists of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.

Overview of the Siachen War Memorial. Earlier one was destroyed by Pakistan. Pranams to the over 1,000 Indians who made the supreme sacrifice so that this strategic area continues to remain in Indian control.

On left black granite are words of Guru Govind Singhji first line reads OH LORD SHIVA GRANT ME THIS BOON THAT I never shy way from good deeds. I should never be frightened away from fighting for Justice, Dharma and Rightful Cause and I should be determined to emerge victorious from this battle. Every soldier to have a pure heart and mind and let not greed come near him. When the time comes for my soul to unite with yours I should die fighting in the battle field’. Names of all those who made the supreme sacrifice are inscribed in black granite. Pranams to each one of them.

Memorial from a different angle.

Left jawans trying to climb a ice-wall called 2 point technique and right is a crevice rescue - training of jawans going on.

Using a ice axe and shoes to climb a ice wall. It is called 4 point technique to climb the ice wall because of 2 hands and 2 legs contact with ice wall. Might look easy but believe me it is not.

Coming down an ice wall, highly synchronised effort. Called I think 10 point of cramp.

After morning training jawans take their bags and proceed for lunch. Note bag weight is equivalent to what they would carry on the glacier.

U see me with ice axe and bag on back. Some day hope to visit the glacier.

View somewhere in Nubra Valley. Pics 1 to 16 clicked by me. From here pics provided by Army and are of Siachen Glacier.

Jawans walking on the glacier. U need to walk kms to reach post points. Jawans go thru acclimatization program in three stages at 3 heights so gives body time to cope with change. They are medically examined at every point. If a jawan develops blood pressure, he is sent back not given to a pill to keep BP under control.

Jawans camping after a walk, notice their bag size. At base camp jawans are taught ice craft, rock craft, survival skills, rescue drills say from crevices/avalanches and maintaining base fitness.

Walking up the hill. Looks so scenic - we would be happy to be there for a few hours but being posted there for days on end.

Just love this pic. Hope can do it some day even though age is catching up. Difficulties for a soldier - high altitude, unpredictable weather, long climbs, staying at altitudes of 17-22000 feet for a period of 3-4 months and loneliness.

Here is what a jawan needs at glacier. To name a few ice axe, rope, sleeping bag, shoes, glasses, gloves etc.

This is the medical kit. To name a few hot water bag, blood pressure m/c, oxidiser and relief pad etc.

Typical tent where jawans live. Wind velocity very high so makes helicopter flying that much more of a challenge. Note communication channel between posts has to be maintained.

When u sleep at night there is a path to your tent, in the morning it is covered. So jawans clearing up the path to tent. They have a dettol towel bath once in 1-3 weeks.

On top of a tent after heavy snowfall. Note jawans have to guard their posts 24 by 7. There is no water supply, break ice and boil it. Passing stools is tough. Some units give jawans TV sets.

Removing snow from above the tent. Snow clearance has to be done daily or else tent will get buried under the snow. Wish Jawans are intensively taught Yoga asanas and Mudra therapy. This would be pro-active action and help them cope with conditions better. For Mudra therapy site Click here

Having meals inside the tent. Jawans have limited contact with outside world. Every post is regularly given a satellite phone to call families. Some jawans lose mental balance in this altitude and because of loneliness. Pics of Yoga Asanas with instructions & benefits Click here