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Siachen beckons, tourists buoyant
September 17, 2007 20:28 IST
The bug to visit the 72-km-long Siachen Glacier is catching on after the Army decided to throw open the icy heights and the world's highest battlefield for tourist activity.
Even as a trekker group awaits a nod from the Ministry of Defence, two mountaineering teams are in the Siachen glacier at two major peaks-- Momostang Kangri(25,600 feet) and Rimo Peak (25,250 feet).
While an all-army team is currently on its way back after successful ascent of the Momostang Kangri peak, the other expedition, which has eight civilian members, is on the verge of climbing the Rimo peak.
Both the peaks are located on the eastern part of the glacier, overlooking Shaksam valley in China, opposite the Saltoro ridge, where Indian and Pakistani troops have been in an almost eyeball to eyeball confrontation.
Initially, the Indian Mountaineering Foundation(IMF), which regulates access to expeditions to climb Himalayan peaks hardly drew any response when it sent a circular to its affilated mountaineering clubs about plans to throw open part of the glacier to trekkers.
"It was just 20 odd people, mostly avid climbers and military cadets who responded," IMF officials said. "But, once it got publicised," they said, "we are getting inundated by requests."
Requests are still coming despite strong protests from Pakistan to the Siachen plan, they said.