India allows civilians to trek to Siachen glacier

India allows civilians to trek to Siachen glacier


New Delhi: In the face of Pakistan’s protest against India’s plans to open the Siachen glacier to expeditions, New Delhi today announced that the first group of trekkers would set off for the glacier tomorrow as planned.

The 42-member group, comprising cadets from the Indian Military Academy and National Cadet Corps and media personnel, will reach Leh, the headquarters of the frontier Ladakh district, tomorrow for the 22-day arduous trek, the defence ministry said here.

“There is no move to call it off," a defence ministry spokesman said. He asserted “the expedition is taking place in an area which is ours".

Though India had earlier allowed military expeditions to climb peaks straddling the 72-km-long glacier in the eastern Karakoram range, this will be the first group of civilians to trek to the icy heights on what was not long ago dubbed the world’s highest and coldest battlefield.

The trekkers, who will be escorted by army guides who are experts in traversing dangerous routes on the glacier, will climb up from the Siachen base camp at a height of 14,000 feet to Kumar camp, located in the middle of the glacier at an altitude of 16,000 feet.