Roll of Honour

Colonel Narendra "Bull" Kumar

Major Somnath SharmaColonel Narendra Kumar (Retd), PVSM, KC, AVSM, FRGS is an internationally known mountaineer. He was born on 08 December 1933 in Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan). He has successfully led mountaineering expeditions to the highest peaks of Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, Garhwal, Kashmir and Eastern Karakorams. Out of 13 the highest peaks above 24,000 feet climbed by Indians, nine have been climbed under his leadership. In 1960, he was amongst the first eight in the world who had crossed the high altitude barrier of 28,000 feet. In 1965, he was the Deputy Leader of the Indian Mount Everest Expedition which put nine people on the top - a world record.

Colonel Kumar's unique contribution towards the world of mountaineering was the ascent of Kanchenjunga from the North East spur. For 45 years, several expeditions tried to climb the Kanchenjunga peak from the dangerous Sikkim route and were unsuccessful. The 1931 German Expedition almost tasted success, when it had to return from 3000 feet below the summit. This achievement was considered so great that it was awarded the Gold Medal at the Los Angles Olympics. He conceived and successfully led an expedition to this mountain in 1977.

Lord Hunt described this achievement as being "...far greater than the Conquest of Everest as it involved technical climbing and objective hazards of a much higher order than those found on Everest." Colonel Kumar is the only Indian to have commanded three premier mountaineering institutes of the country. He has been the Principal of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute at Darjeeling, the Principal of the National Ski School at Gulmarg from 1971 to 1977, the head of the Indian Institute of Skiing & Mountaineering at Gulmarg and Commandant of the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) also at Gulmarg. He is presently the President of Ski Federation of India and Vice President of the Indian Olympic Association. He is better known as Bull amongst his friends and has over the years gained the reputation of a mountaineering legend.

Colonel Kumar was the first man in the world to cross the Siachen Glacier from the snout to its source. He also skied down all the passes on the Glacier such as the Bila-Fondla, Saltoro Pass, Sia-La, Turkistan-La, Indira-Col and Pass Italia and led successful expeditions to Saltoro Kangri (25,400 feet) the highest in Eastern Karakoram.  Since the start of his career, he has successfully led mountaineering expeditions to the highest peaks of Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, Garhwal, Kashmir and Eastern Karakoram. In his true to heart pioneering spirit, he introduced much of the World to 'The Himalayas'. He is today the most highly decorated mountaineer in Indian history.

Colonel Kumar has set also numerous world records and led expeditions to the following peaks;

  • Toshe Maidan
  • Siachen Glacier
  • Mount Blanc European Alps
  • Kanchenjunga - 8598 Meters
  • Kamet - 7756 Meters
  • Teram Kangri - 7464 Meters
  • Nanda Devi - 7434 Meters
  • Indira Col - 7422 Meters
  • Abi Gamin - 7355 Meters
  • Chomolhari - 7327 Meters
  • Saltoro Kangri - 7312 Meters
  • NunKun - 7135 Meters
  • Neelkantha - 6597 Meters
  • Brahma - 6416 Meters
  • Harmukh - 5784 Meters
  • Sia Kangri - 5776 Meters

Being a mountaineer, trekking naturally was one of Bull's many loves. Over the years he has successfully explored and charted many new trekking routes all over the Indian Himalayas. His hands on knowledge of the Himalayas and its culture adds an enviable flavour to all his treks. He was responsible for the training of the first batch of Indian ski teachers. He later led the Indian Ski Team down the Trishul Expedition and has skied down from 23,360 feet to the Base Camp at 15,500 feet. The ascent took the team 10 days while the descent only an hour and a half. Colonel Kumar is the privileged and proud father of Shailaja, who represented India in the Winter Olympics at Calgary, Canada, in 1988. He was awarded the United Nation's fellowship for Ski Teaching and was trained in Switzerland and Austria for 4 months. In his efforts to launch river rafting in India, he made the first descent of River Indus in Ladakh and the Teesta in Sikkim.

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