Mountaineering at HMI, Darjeeling 2016.

About Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI),

After multiple failed attempts at climbing Mt. Everest, in 1953, Edward Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa finally conquered the world’s highest peak. To commemorate this event, The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was established in 1954 in Darjeeling which was Tenzing Norgay’s hometown. It is the first mountaineering institute in India and after that the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) was formed in 1957.
*One can see The Great Kangchenjunga Ranges from Darjeeling or even from the HMI campus on a clear day*


Fitness and Stamina:
Whether you are a regular trekker or just a lazy couch potato, preparing your body for the any trek is essential. Try and walk every day in the month before your course to build up stamina. Start with walking / jogging an hour and build up for at least 2 hours.
If you live or work in the multi-storied building, prefer to take the stairs.
Weight Training:
Pack your backpack with 10 kgs minimum for the first day and walk/climb stairs for an hour, increase the weight up by 2 kgs each day.
Mental Preparation:
Mountaineering is just not about physical training and testing your stamina, it needs lot of mental strength as well. Getting out of your comfort zone is not easy at all, not finding proper beds, no good food, no shower, no toilets and much more. You just have to remember that even though its hard, you’re going to have to deal with it.
In the end, you will be used to it and learn to appreciate the smallest of comforts.

What to Pack?

As light as possible because you will be getting all the equipment from the institute in addition.
Things I packed:
– 3 T-shirts
– 2 Pants
– Rain Covers
– 1 Fleece jacket
– Thermal Innerwears
– 7/8 Hiking innerwears
– 7/8 pairs of socks
– Personal Medical Kit
– 2 Torch/Head Torch
– Toilet Rolls/Baby Wipes
(Hot water facility is available at the institute, so you may carry your personal toiletries for bathing)
Things they provide:
– 1 Rucksack (75-85L)
– 1 Windproof Jacket
– 1 Windproof Pant
– 1 Feather Jacket
– 1 Balaclava
– Harness Set (Harness, Carabiner, Sling Rope, Descender, Jummar)
– 1 Ice Axe
– Crampons
– A tiffin box, a spoon and a glass
– Sleeping Matterss
– Sleeping bag and liner
(The whole kit weighs up to 15 kgs minimum and fits perfectly in their rucksack. You’d hardly have some space to carry your clothes at the base camp)

How to reach?

The fastest way to reach there is to catch a flight to Bagdogra Airport, catch a local sharing taxi to Siliguri (don’t pay more than Rs. 200 per head); from Siliguri to Darjeeling taxi or bus at Rs. 130 per head.
You also have an option to reach directly to Darjeeling from Bagdogra airport, there are private taxis which will charge you around Rs1500-2000.
Local transport will drop you only till the car stand near the main market, and you will find another sharing taxi for Rs10  which will drop you near HMI.

At the institute:

The first day we are divided in the groups based on the strength of the class. The group / rope leaders are selected and you have to be in the same rope till the course ends.
Following 7 days we learn about the theory and practice of rock craft training, knot practice, lectures on mountains and mountains terminology, first aid, History of Himalaya and more.

Climbing at Tenzing Rock

HMI to Yuksom to Bakhim

Right after crossing the fourth bridge, the toughest climb of the entire trek starts.

THE WORST and THE TOUGHEST part of the entire trek starts right after you cross the 4th bridge.

Bakhim to Dzongri

SO the next day morning we wake up to this

Nice and dry campsite when we reached and next day we woke up to this.


The Golden Himalayas #Sunrise

The Golden Himalayan #Sunrise

Dzongri to HMI Base Camp


Chaurikhang (HMI, Base Camp)

The base camp is in the west of sikkim at the altitude of 14,600 ft. One gets a beautiful view of Kabru group of Mountains along with Rathong peaks.

watch tower, could see the entire trail which we climbed

watch tower, could see the entire trail which we climbed

At The Base Camp
  • 4/5 days of glacier training
  • 2/3 days practice for rock climbing / bouldering / jummar climbing/river crossing
  • 1 day visit to the Advance Course Base Camp (Bhalepokhari, 15,500 ft) and Snow Crafting.
  • 1 day summit to Rinock Peak (16,500 ft)
  • 1 day rest
Facilities at Base Camp
There is a big hut that can easily fit 60-70 people comfortably. The hut is only for students in the basic course, the advance course students have to pitch the tents.
Obviously no shower, unless you’re OK with the freezing cold water.
Their are toilets (pretty decent), or you can always take your shovel/ice axe and go for an open view hiding behind a rock.
There is a medical room, the doctor is always available for you.
The food at the Base Camp in much better than what we get at the institute except breads.
Breakfast Menu: Morning bed tea, Channa, Boiled Eggs or Omelette, Chapati/Puri, Milk and Tea.
Lunch Menu: Potato / Paneer / Peas / Soya / Cabbage Sabzi, Chicken / Mutton / Egg Sabzi, Chapati, Dal and Rice, Pickles.
Supper: Mushroom / Chicken / Tomato Soup, Tea / Coffee with biscuits.
Dinner Menu: Mostly same as lunch along with some sweets.
Bed time: Bournvita in milk


After 4 days at the camp, once we are acclimatised to the altitude, you’re free to play cricket / football / badminton after the training. You get decent two hours for the games followed with tea and soups.

Around Base Camp:


Jummar Training

Jummar Training

Glacier Training:

Ice crafting and snow crafting is done at the Rathong Glacier, which is about 2-3 kms far from the base camp. The entire walk is through landslides and moraines.

Well, almost there

Well, almost there


At Rathong Glacier:


Bhalepokhari Lake

Bhalepokhari is HMI’s advance course base camp at the height of 15,300 ft (approx). It has the most beautiful view of the Lake, which is also a Holy Lake. Lot of people from Tibet and Nepal visit to pray



Do you see those tiny humans? We rappel down from there and relax at the lake side till whole team gets here.


Usually for the basic course, we summit the Frey or B.C Roy peak (as mentioned on the HMI website). But due to the weather conditions we climbed the Renok Peak (16,500ft).

Thank You for reading



Let us know if you have any queries or questions about the mountaineering course, happy to answer.