One of the doyens of civilian mountaineering and veteran adventurer Chanchal Kumar Mitra passed away following protracted illness on Friday morning.
Mitra was 86 years old, he breathed his last at his nephew’s house in Mumbai where he had moved for getting medical attention.
Mitra’s had been involved in mountaineering activities for more than six decades.
The high point of his mountaineering career came when he successfully led the Himalayan Association’s expedition to the 23,210 feet Tirsuli peak in Kumaun in 1966.
Mitra’s love for the mountains started during his childhood when he visited Darjeeling as a school boy.
His passion for climbing intensified after a trek to Gangotri and Yamunotri during the 1950s.
Subsequently he took his basic and advance mountaineering training at Himalayan Mountaineering Institute(HMI) Darjeeling.
Beside Tirsuli Sri Mitra, who was fondly called Chanchalda, participated in Nilgiri Parvat expedition undertaken by the Himalayan Association in 1962, this was the first Indian ascent of the peak.
He also led the Herdeol Expedition in 1967 and the first expedition of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) in India to Panchachulli peaks during 1970. He then participated in an expedition to Nitalthaur in Kumaun Himalaya in 1974.
During 1976 while on a trek from Gaumukh to Badrinath via Kalindi Khal Chanchalda along with then instructor of NIM Uttarkashi Harsmuni Nautiyal he made the first ascent of an unnamed peak of about 20,000 feet in Kalindi Khal region.
He was one of the initiators who started rock climbing training course in Eastern India at Sushunia Hills of Bankura distrrict in West Bengal which was organised by Himalayan Association in 1965.
Chanchalda also acted as Honarary instructor at Adventure Courses at HMI Darjeeling and Course Commandant of various rock climbing and adventure courses in West Bengal.
He also applied his expertise and assistance in setting up the mountaineering club in West Bengal’s Jadavpur University.
Mitra was a life member of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute(HMI), Darjeeling, Himalayan Club and city based Himalayan Association where he also served as the President and Secretary. He also acted as editor of first two issues of Himalayan Association Journal.