Darjeeling HMI eyes centre in Sikkim

Troubled by recurring shutdowns and political upheavals in Darjeeling, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is mulling opening a permanent training centre at Yuksom, West Sikkim, to carry out mountaineering/adventure training activities.

HMI principal Devidutta Panda said: “Our base camp is located in Sikkim’s Khangchendzonga National Park and Yuksom is an ideal location for adventure and mountaineering courses. If we establish a training centre at Yuksom, it will be more convenient than Darjeeling.”

Panda was in Yuksom for the ongoing mountaineering course, the first such course outside Darjeeling, due to the Hills strike. He also hinted that an artificial rock would be built at Yuksom for rock climbing training.

Locals welcomed HMI’s plan of setting up a training centre at Yuksom and have appealed to the state government for intervention.

Darjeeling’s HMI is one of the world’s premier mountaineering institutes. In more than 62 years of its existence, it has trained more than 45,000 students, including 2,500 from overseas. The prestigious course completion certificate from HMI is a prized possession for any trainee and is given due recognition all over the world.

However, Sikkim Mountaineering Association has objected to HMI’s decision, saying the institute didn’t contribute to Sikkim between 1954 and 2014, when the Mount Kanchanjunga base camp was leased from Sikkim. “Apart from the lease amount, locals were not benefited by HMI. They bought their own human resources and food items. This is nothing but an attempt to keep their business intact in the wake of the Darjeeling bandh,” said SMA president Kunzang Gyatso Bhutia.

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