The Himalayan Club Annual Seminar - 2014 (Report)

Dr. M. S. Gill, President Emeritus
receiving memento from Brig. Ashok Abbey,
President of the Himalayan Club

The two day seminar started on the evening of 15 February 2014 at Mumbai's Air India auditorium. It was inaugurated by Dr M.S. Gill, Member of Parliament and President Emeritus of the Himalayan Club. The Annual Seminar 2014 was sponsored by JSW group of companies headed by Mr. Sajjan Jindal.

Two things stood out at the Himalayan Club Annual Seminar 2014.

The first was the sight of a well built sharply dressed man, clearly from the mountains, walking up to receive the Jagdish Nanavati Garud Medal presented every year to a deserving candidate from expedition support staff. In a place filled with several eminent personalities, it was the unassuming Pemba Norbu (a.k.a. King Kong) who got a standing ovation from the audience. The annual Jagdish Nanavati Award for Excellence in Mountaineering went to the Chaukhamba col expedition led by Debabrata Mukherjee.

Debabrata Mukherjee, receiving 'Jagadish Nanavati Award
for Excellence in Mountaineering' from Sachin Nanavati

Pemba Norbu receiving 'Jagdish Nanavati
Garud Medal' from Sachin Nanavati

Second, the two guest speakers from overseas - Marko Prezelj and Jim Perrin - gave insightful thought provoking lectures. Jim, who won the Kekoo Naoroji Book Award for his book on Eric Shipton and Bill Tillman, was the quintessential author, at once informal and incisive. His animated and dramatic presentation on the Shipton-Tillman team made the two characters spring to life. It was both, a window into the contrasting personalities of these two great British explorers and how a writer viewed his subject. Anyone aspiring to write would have found something valuable in Jim's talk.

Jim Perrin receiving 'Kekoo Naoroji Book Award for
Himalayan Literature' from Rishad Naoroji

Adi Godrej congratulating Jim Perrin for his
award winning book 'Shipton and Tilman'

Marko Prezelj

The onus of giving the Kaivan Mistry Memorial Lecture was upon Marko and he rose to the occasion splendidly, providing an overview of his expeditions, accompanied by breath taking photographs. On day two, he covered a different and very motivational area. A mentor to young climbers in Slovenia, Marko used his experiences to not just talk about mentoring and expeditions cast in that genre but also look into the media filled lives of today's young people, wondering how much that affected a proper understanding of the outdoors.

Harish Kapadia with Brig Ashok Abbey

Other lectures included a talk by veteran mountaineer and explorer, Harish Kapadia, (who incidentally, was conferred the title of Editor Emeritus, of the Himalayan Journal) about the Chaukan Pass on the India-Myanmar border. He mixed the narrative of his recent visit to the pass with its history, including the forgotten story of a fantastic rescue, during the WWII years. During the inauguration, Harish Kapadia, now the Editor Emeritus of the Himalayan Journal was presented with a specially created memento.

There were two talks on first ascents in the Himalaya - Divyesh Muni from the Mumbai chapter of the Himalayan Club spoke on the first ascent of Chamshen (7017 m), a peak located in the Eastern Karakoram. The ascent involved a maiden approach from west crossing the Sakang col to North Shukpa Kungchang glacier before the climbers were ready to climb the peak. The expedition faced an accident but the situation was brought under control by air-evacuation of the injured member.

Vineeta & Divyesh Muni with Brig Ashok Abbey

Pradeep Sahoo

Pradeep Sahoo of the Club's Kolkata chapter described the first ascent of Plateau Peak (7300 m). The peak, located in the famous Saser Kangri group of mountains, was not climbed even after many determined attempts by various expeditions. The Himalayan Club team found a route through the threatening seracs just below the top and reached the summit, thus creating history.

Jerzy Porebski's film on the Polish mountaineer, Jerzy Kukuczka was also screened. The film, a documentary covering interviews of Kukuczka's family and friends was a study of the man, up close, exciting for all those curious about the culture of climbing in the golden age.

American mountaineer and film maker David Breashers, who was expected for the seminar couldn't make it due to last minute travel complications. But he was gracious enough to send two of his films titled 'GlacierWorks' and '2012 Everest Base Camp Exhibit'. These very impacting films focus on the alarming rate at which glacier systems in the Himalaya are receding. Climate change is a critical issue that must be faced as if these glaciers continue to disappear at this rate, the rivers supplying water to our subcontinent will disappear too.

The seminar was well attended by the lovers of the Himalaya.


Shyam Menon