The Munsyari based-Pandit Nain Singh Surveyor Mountaineering Training Institute (PNSMTI), the country’s youngest institute of its sort has just wrapped up its basic course in skiing for the year. This was the third such course for the institute; it had previously held basic skiing courses in 2016 and 2017.
Commissioned on October 20, 2015 (the birth anniversary of Pandit Nain Singh Rawat), PNSMTI is still in its early days. It falls under the Sports Department of the Government of Uttarakhand. PNSMTI doesn’t have a proper campus yet but has commenced work with an annual skiing course. The institute is also free to organize / host outdoor management programs and leadership programs for interested companies.
“ Going ahead, we would like to have a bigger portfolio of courses,’’ Reena Kaushal Dharmshaktu, Officer on Special Duty (OSD), PNSMTI, said. Reena is an accomplished trekker and mountaineer, who is also the first Indian woman to ski to the South Pole. Skiing is a subject close to her heart. Pandit Nain Singh Rawat, in whose memory the institute was established, is among India’s greatest explorers of the Himalaya (For more on Pandit Nain Singh please click on this link: https://shyamgopan.com/2014/06/23/walking-with-nain-singh/ ). He hailed from Johar valley near Munsyari, in Uttarakhand’s Kumaon region.
PNSMTI’s skiing course accepts 30 students. The course is for two weeks and is held in February. The course fee is Rs 12,000; it is subsidized by the state’s sports department. The fee covers all costs including cost of training, equipment, boarding and lodging. Students come from Uttarakhand and other states. According to Reena, what makes the PNSMTI course unique is the ski slope they use. Located on Khalia Top near Munsyari, the slope is at an elevation of 11,500 feet making it among the highest ski slopes in the country that a student can hope to get trained at. “ The view from Khalia Top is spectacular. You can see Nanda Devi and its surrounding peaks, the Panchchuli range and other peaks of the Johar region,’’ Reena said.
(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)