How To Get Expedition-Permit From IMF
The highest peaks may be located in Nepal but India has a larger portion of the Himalayas. It goes without saying that hundreds of semi-technical, technical and very technical peaks (that are borderline insanity!) are scattered throughout Northern India. A prepared mountaineer is spoilt for choice – with a multitude of tough-tougher-toughest peaks available in Kashmir, Leh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Sikkim as well as Arunachal Pradesh.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be an Indian, people come from all over the globe in their conquest to scale unique and daunting peaks. Europeans who have climbed enough in the Alps can be seen eyeing Himalayan peaks for their next challenge, hence India becomes an obvious attraction!
If you are wondering how to qualify for these treks and how to prepare yourself mentally & physically, then you get a cursory sense by reading our guide on preparing for Mt. Everest. The basic idea behind preparation remains the same for most mountains or regions.
If you feel that you have all the bases covered and you are prepared in all aspects, then the next step in the process is choosing a peak and start planning. Some Indians who have an advanced certification in mountaineering may prefer to organize their own expedition, but you will need to seek permission from the IMF regardless of whether you are going on your own or if you go through an adventure operator. Apart from the usual pros & cons of going with an operator, one difference in case of the procedure would be that if you go with an operator, they will act as a conduit between you and IMF (in some cases, the state government too) and get the permits for you.
IMF, New Delhi oversees all concerns regarding mountaineering on Indian peaks. The Indian Mountaineering Foundation is the national institution for mountaineering in the country. The apex body deals with regulating & promoting expeditions in the Indian Himalayas.
As one of its functions, IMF grants permits to expedition teams, Indian or otherwise. The permit fees, expedition rules and the procedure for application are slightly different for Indian and Foreign Teams, we’ll get to that in a bit.
- 90 days before the start date of the expedition, an application (along with the prescribed fees) has to be submitted with the IMF. The application can be made in online or offline mode.
- IMF will reserve the particular peak on first-cum-first-serve basis. The booking is provisional, subject to fulfilment of full payment and timely submission of all forms. The peak is booked for 30-45 days from Base Camp to Base Camp.
- Foreign expedition teams need to take permission from Central Government for climbing any peak in India. IMF will take permission on your behalf.
- For Joint Team Expedition, the foreign team can engage the IMF to assign an Indian team or can directly contact an Indian team before application. In such a case, all terms and conditions, otherwise applicable to a foreign team, will remain in effect for the foreign members of the joint team. The overall leaders of the team will be Indian and the deputy leader of the team will be a foreigner.
- Please note that the peaks in East-Karakoram Range are only open to foreign mountaineers via a Joint Expedition Team. There are specific conditions and rules laid down by the Uttrakhand & Sikkim governments with respect to their peaks as well.
- The route that is taken for the climb has to be approved by the IMF. During the application process, you can either select a pre-existing route or mark a new route and submit it for approval.
- Every foreign expedition team will be assigned a Liaison Officer. The LO will assist the team in custom clearance, ration supply, hiring porters, booking accommodation & transportation logistics and maintaining liaison with local civil & military authorities. The LO will be treated as a part of the team in all aspects and will be granted the same standard of amenities as the rest of the team. He/she can also accompany the team all the way to the summit, as per the LO’s discretion and capability. Apart from the handling charges, the expedition team will also pay USD 500 towards the LO’s equipment.
- All team members are required to have accidental/adventure insurance that covers a potential heli-rescue. The team also needs to sponsor insurance for the support staff (porters/helpers/cooks etc.)
- The teams are advised to use a hand-held walkie-talkie for safety & coordination. Once the application process is complete, the team can rent expedition equipment, along with the walkie-talkie from the IMF store.
- All teams are required to report to the Director, IMF for briefing & debriefing before and after the expedition. In the case of foreign teams, the team will report (along with LO) on arrival in India. They will furnish photocopies of their passports and visas and customs clearances (for imported equipment) along with their insurance policies. After the expedition, all teams are supposed to report for debriefing and furnish an expedition report via two forms, the first form requires details regarding the expedition (summit report/route taken/environment-safety) and the second form requires technical details like challenging sections faced and technical features encountered on the route.
- Certificate of completion/max altitude attained will only be issued after IMF scrutinizes the Expedition Report.
The following eligibility criteria are applicable only for Indian expedition teams.
Leader of the Team: The leader of the expedition team needs to be an individual above 25 years who has an 'Advanced Mountaineering Course' certification from a recognized mountaineering institute. He/she should have participated in at least two expeditions to above 6,400m peaks and should have successfully summited at least one.
Composition of the Team: Including the Leader, at least half of the team should have an 'Advanced Mountaineering Course' certification from a recognized mountaineering institute along with some expedition experience. A maximum of two members without any mountaineering certification will be permitted in a team (the should be experienced in high altitude trekking and rock-climbing. The balance number of team members may be individuals who have a 'Basic Mountaineering Course' certification from a recognized mountaineering institute.
For Indian Expedition teams, the total payment required by the IMF is INR 3000 for the entire team. The charges are for the purpose of booking the peak. To get a permit from the IMF, foreigners have to pay handling charges that vary according to the altitude of the peak and the size of the team.
Although the handling charges are quite substantial, there’s some respite for now. In a move to boost the number of foreigners who climb in India, the handling charges have been slashed by 50% by the IMF. However, the rebate is available only for the 2020 climbing season.
To check out the open peaks given in Appendix “A”, “B” & “C”, click here.
Online Application Process
- Account – Create a user ID on the IMF portal.
- Profile – Update your profile with your personal details, mountaineering experience, qualifications, etc.
- Booking – Select type of team (Indian/Foreign/Mixed), choose peak, select/create a route, create a team (every member will have to finish step (i) & (ii) as well.
- Embassy – Applicable only for foreign expedition teams, details about the nearest Embassy have to be furnished in the form.
- Payment – Once the “Freeze Team” button has been selected, you can go ahead and make the payment to complete the peak booking process.
Offline Application Process
- Forms – Download the Application form from the IMF portal. Please note that there is a separate form for Indian nationals and non-nationals.
- Main Form – The main form requires basic details about the expedition and the peak that the team wishes to climb. There are a few supplementary forms and other attachments that are required along with the main form.
- Route Map – For the approval of route, geographical maps with the route marked.
- Leader Details – Personal details, mountaineering experience and qualifications of the leader.
- Team Details – Personal details, mountaineering experience and qualifications of the members.
- Embassy – Applicable only for foreign expedition teams, details about the nearest Embassy.
- Import – Applicable only for foreign expedition teams, details about equipment being brought into the country.
- Rental – List of rental equipment that is being requested.
- Undertaking – Undertaking duly signed by the team leader.
- Payment – A demand draft has to be sent along with the application form to book the peak on a provisional basis. For Indian Teams, the amount is 100% of peak booking charges, i.e., INR 2000 and for foreign teams, the amount is 25% of handling charges.
Too many details to keep track of? Refer to this summary and see what is applicable to your team.
Guess you’re all set now to climb new heights this year! Not sure which peak suits your needs?
Head to this blog to find out our best mountaineering expeditions!