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A Man No Cliff Can Stop

 

An Indian soldier-turned-Army officer, Major Ranveer Singh Jamwal, is setting new benchmarks in scaling the world’s most perilous peaks and pulling off impossible rescue missions in the mountains Mayank Singh
MAYANK SINGH | Issue Dated: December 15, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Major Ranveer Singh Jamwal | VSM | Jat Regiment | Dogra Regiment | Tenzing Norgay Adventure Award | Army | HAWS | Switzerland | IAS officer | Mount Everest |
 

This isn’t exactly a rags-to-riches story, but is every inch as exciting. Major Ranveer Singh Jamwal did not start life in penury, nor is he rolling in wealth. But what he possesses in abundance is grit, an attribute that has propelled him to the summit of Mount Everest twice in a span of less than 12 months.

Needless to say, Jamwal is no ordinary climber. He has not only led a record number of 20 climbers to the summit in a single expedition, but also masterminded a successful campaign to clean up the mountain that he has scaled.   

Major Jamwal, decorated with the Vishisht Sewa Medal (VSM) this year for his courage and leadership qualities, grew up in the nondescript village of Badhori in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir. He always dreamed of joining the Army and made it to the ranks as an ordinary soldier of the Dogra Regiment. He subsequently became a commissioned officer. Today, he is a proud officer of the Jat Regiment.

His feats as a mountaineer may not have made him a household name, but has fetched Jamwal the Tenzing Norgay Adventure Award. He received the nation’s highest award in the field of adventure from President Pranab Mukherjee on August 31 last.  
Jammy, as his friends call him, is effusive in his praise of the Army. “I am a typical soldier who is ready to give his best in everything I am asked to do. Whatever I have achieved is a result of the constant encouragement I have received from my seniors,” he says.

 Jamwal’s father, Onkar Singh, is a retired havaldar of the Army from whom he imbibed the virtues of hard work and tenacity. The major’s motto has always been: ‘do not think in terms of limitations; always think in terms of possibilities’.

He joined the army on October 24, 1994. The officers of Dogra Regiment guided him through the early years. With his hard work, dedication and will power, he cleared the officer examination (Army Cadets College) and joined the Indian Military Academy in 1998 and got commissioned as an officer in the Jat Regiment in June 2002.

He was always inclined towards sports. The army proved to be a catalyst for what began as a voluntary course in mountaineering at the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS), Gulmarg. He was adjudged the best student and was posted back to the HAWS as an instructor.

He was then sent to Switzerland for a course in mountain search and rescue operations. There, too, he was rated the best student. Armed with skills thus acquired, Jamwal has saved many lives since.

Major Jamwal says, “Every person in my regiment used to be aware of every step forward that I took. They all wanted me to do well. In fact, I am indebted to my regiment, my unit and my commanding officer Colonel TS Hothi. They were always there in every difficulty.”

His family, too, has been a constant source of motivation. He mentions his father, mother, younger brother, wife and two children.

Says Jamwal: “Every award and recognition is actually shared by my parents, wife and children for they never burdened me with any responsibility related to the family.” He is especially grateful to his wife, Kiran, who raised their two children while he pursued his dream.

Says Kiran: “I wanted him to be the best in whatever he was doing. We as a family feel good that he has made the Army and the country proud.”

When their first child, Daksh, was born in 2007 Jamwal was in Switzerland. It was only when complications developed during the birth of their second child in 2012 that Jamwal left the training of the first army women officers Everest expedition in Siachen.

Jamwal was on the summit by the side of the first IAS officer to climb Mount Everest, Ravindra Kumar. Says the latter about Jamwal, “Once you are at base camp, the focus is on being safe and reaching the summit. That makes people very cautious. But here was a man who was always laughing even in the most difficult conditions and was ready to leave his safe area to assist others. He is a born leader and motivator, but is very strict on discipline.”

Major Jamwal plans to achieve the feat of conquering the highest points of all the seven continents.

Leading the joint Indo-Nepal Army Everest Expedition in 2013, Jamwal created a record of leading 20 climbers to the top of the world on May 19, 2013. By then he had already been part of several successful expeditions. He was deputy leader of the Indian Army Women’s Expedition in 2012 in which he led the climbing team to the top of Mt Everest on May 25, 2012. All seven women climbers reached the summit.

Thus the officer has the distinction of scaling Everest twice in a span of less than 12 months. During his second climb to the summit, he had planned for more than just an expedition. He motivated his team and they for the first time not only participated in Everest marathon (highest marathon in the world) but also claimed first and third positions.

His passion for climbing has taken him to other continents as well. He has scaled Mt Aconcagua, the highest peak of the South America continent, and Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest peak of Africa.

Each summit has been a test for him, none less demanding than Mount Mana, which is technically the most difficult peak in India. It is here that his training enabled him to save many lives.

In the process of saving his men he overlooked his own safety. He suffered severe frostbite, necessitating the amputation of one finger.  Because of his selfless devotion and fearless leadership, the officer was awarded Chief of Army Commendation Card. 

He has been actively involved in various rescue expeditions in J&K and Garhwal Himalayas. In 2012, he was selected to lead the climbers of the Indian and UK armies to an unclimbed peak. Right after reaching the summit, he volunteered to go for a rescue expedition to Mt Kedar Dome where five climbers were trapped in an avalanche. He was involved in saving the lives of six soldiers and four civilians in Gurez in 2008.

He and his team made a mark in the history of mountaineering by cleaning 4000 kg of non-biodegradable waste from Everest and the higher camps. The Government of Nepal acknowledged this feat and he was also was awarded an appreciation certificate by Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee.

Ravindra Kumar says, “Jamwal has a lot of respect for the mountains. He collected garbage not for completing a task but because he wishes to see it clean.”

Now, the only thing that Jamwal wishes is to see his parents, especially his mother, happy. He believes his mother had to sacrifice a lot as father used to be away. Omkar Singh is a veteran of three wars of 1962, 1965 and 1971.
Surjit Singh Slathia, the Member of Legislative Assembly representing the constituency to which Major Jamwal belongs, says, “We are proud of his achievements as he has brought laurels to our country and to Jammu and Kashmir. I will provide all the assistance and will even request our Chief Minister to extend all the support so that he becomes a figure to emulate.” He is after all a true hero.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017