(Correne Coetzer) Fighting a war is much like going on an expedition. You want no surprises, no injuries, and lots of good food. To be at the South Pole on Indian Army Day was a high point, says Col. Anand Swaroop to ExWebs Correne Coetzer, in addition to the incident/accident free expedition.
The Colonel and his Indian Army team have been climbing mountains for many years before they decided to test themselves on the polar ice. Swaroop compares the sledge-hauling experience from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole with climbing in the Himalayas, and talks about future plans.
ExplorersWeb: You have done a lot of mountaineering. How did the South Pole ski compare to your mountaineering expeditions? How did you have to change your mindset? What is your favorite?
Anand: Mountaineering routine had become familiar, since we were at it for few years now. So from that point of view, everything about ski expedition was new and since we did not know much about it, we were curious to learn, try it out and worry about the consequences of things going wrong.
Since this was the first ski expedition for us, we havent got so fond of it as much as mountaineering. So that remains my favorite.
ExplorersWeb: What didnt you like about skiing to the Pole?
Anand: The boredom of same routine for 50 days, no vegetation and just the whites of all kinds.
ExplorersWeb: What were high points?
Anand: Reaching the South Pole on 15 January 2011, which was also 'Army Day', here in India.
Besides that the high point was the incident/accident free expedition.
ExplorersWeb: Were you hungry, craving and dreaming about food? If yes, have you ever had this in the mountains?
Anand: We were dreaming of the spicy Indian food all the time.
The craving is not that severe when mountaineering as we have good Indian food till base camp and we keep coming back to base camp from time to time. This was not the case in ski expedition.
ExplorersWeb: Your group was quite large. Did you have difficulties staying together?
Anand: No. We are used to working in group. Also the team had trained together over six months, including a month in Greenland.
ExplorersWeb: Do you consider doing the North Pole?
Anand: Yes, we are planning to do that next year.
ExplorersWeb: What adventures have you had since the South Pole and what are your other future plans?
Anand: As an organization, we climbed Mount Manaslu in Nepal this year. We will be making our fifth attempt on Everest with womens team next year. Also the North Pole and around the world sailing expedition is planned. Besides this we organize about 8-10 mountaineering expedition in Indian Himalayas every year.
Personally, I am exploring scuba diving and sky diving. Recently I learned to fly micro light ultra light aircrafts.
At midnight of January 14/15 the Indian Army team, R Bala Karthik, Arjun Kumar Thapa, Ram Singh, Khilap Singh, Tsewang Morup, Parsuram Gurung and Showkat Ahmad Mir, with Col. Anand Swaroop as leader and guides Devon McDiarmid (Canada) and Svante Strand (Norway) arrived at the South Pole from Hercules Inlet (1130 km). The team was resupplied.
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