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Harish Chandra Singh Rawat( July 3, 1934 - January 20, 2008) was a mountaineer who scaled the Mt Everest in 1965. He was the grandson of Pt Kishen Singh of Pandit brothers’ fame, who surveyed Tibet.

Biography

Harish was born into a family of mountaineers. Rawat’s grandfather, Rai Bahadur Kishan Singh, known as AK Pandit, and his grandfather’s cousin, Nain Singh were the Indian pioneers to survey the country. They were with the Survey of India. Rai Bahadur went to the Pamirs through Nepal and surveyed the area and later explored Tibet for four years before coming back home to Pittoragarh in Kumaon Himalayas. Rawat was fired by the spirit of his family’s quest and drew inspiration from their exploratory deeds.

Expeditions

Sh Rawat participated in a number of expeditions including Nanda Devi, Kanglacha, Haathi Parvat, Trishuli, Rathong, Nandakhat and Nun Kun. In 1962, he led a party, including Sonam Wangyal, another Everester of the 1965 expedition to Kanglacha, 30 miles south of Leh. In 1963, Rawat climbed Hathi Parbat and a year later he was part of the Trisuli and Nanda Devi East expedition. In the pre-Everest preparations, he climbed Rathong.

During and after his Everest climb, Rawat participated in a joint expedition operation by the Indian Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the USA to Nanda Devi peak to explore Chinese nuclear possibilities. In 1964, Rawat survived a 3500 feet fall in an avalanche during their Nanda Devi East Expedition.

In 1965, he climbed the Mount Everest along with Capt Ahluwalia and Phu Dorji.

As his partner Bahuguna could not proceed due to ill health, Bahuguna had developed rashes all over his body and had to return to the Advance Base Camp on 28 May afternoon. On the 29th May, Rawat radioed the expedition doctor Capt Chakravarti at 4 in the morning to tell him he was leaving his camp. Sh Rawat walked all alone through the death zone to join the other two climbers and is the only person to have achieved this feat in the world. He managed to join the others at the summit, thus making a world record because never before three members have reached the top together.also for the first time nine members of an expedition made it to Mt Everest.

Sh Rawat was a member of the Silk Route Expedition, which followed Marco Polo’s route in China. He could identify some of the areas visited by his grandfather, both in Tibet as well as in central Asia. He served in cabinet secretariat with distinction and was deputed as first secretary to the Indian embassies in Nepal and Bhutan. A recipient of Arjuna award[1], Sh Rawat had several other laurels like the Padma Shree, Police Medal and IMF Silver Medal to his credit. For over two decades, he served the Indian Mountaineering Foundation and was instrumental in taking it to the international level and served as Vice-President there. In recent years, he was involved in a number of mountain-cleaning expeditions.

He was also an avid photographer. The legendary image of Maj Ahluwalia and Phu Dorji at the summit,with the Indian Tri-colour,that was later to become the stamp and symbol of the 1965 Indian Everest Expedition, was taken by Harish Rawat, a mountaineer nonparell.

He was fondly referred as 'Japani Sahib' by sherpas .

It was not only the mountains that got his attention, he was involved in greening of the high-altitude areas and took active interest in empowerment of women of Kausani and Munsiyari.He started an NGO by the name of HOPE-Himalayan Organisation for People and Environment.

References








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