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On May 19, 1965, two men spent the night at 27,930 feet—the highest camp on Mount Everest. Next morning, at 9.30 am, Captain A.S. Cheema and Sherpa Nawang Gombu reached the summit. In the following nine days, the Indians made three successful attempts on Everest and created a record which remained unbroken for 17 long years—they placed nine men on the summit of Everest in a single expedition.
But it had not been easy for the Indians. In 1960, a team led by Brigadier Gyan Singh fell 700 feet short of the summit. In 1962, the expedition was led by Major John Dias. Capt. M.S. Kohli, who led the successful Indian team in 1965, was one of the unlucky climbers that year—along with Sonam Gyatso and Hari Dang—as the team reached 28,600 feet. A raging blizzard on May 30, 1962 pushed them back and the three climbers were lucky to escape with their lives, reaching the highest camp at 10pm, literally crawling through the snow!
Interestingly, before the Indian climb in 1965, only 15 men from four expeditions had climbed Everest! That’s how novel it was to climb Everest then. To commemorate this great climb, a series of events were held in many cities across India, in May. This included screening of the 1965 Everest film, release of the Golden Jubilee stamp and the commemorative volume Nine Atop Everest. The ten living members of the 1965 team were also felicitated at the different venues.
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