- Honestly speaking, it intrigues me no end whenever information related to Armed Forces personnel appears revealing even a small bit about their day-to-day life or to be precise duties while discharging responsibilities on some of the most challenging/inhuman/inhospitable terrains or places that are known in the universe. One such mention was found in a recently received WhatsApp forward lucidly listing out the harshest possible weather conditions on the Siachen Glacier, the highest altitude battleground defended on the Himalayas bordering India and Pakistan.
Pc: Republic World
- Know that it is also one of the costliest battlegrounds to maintain as an entire brigade (troop strength of five thousand) are positioned strategically overseeing the eastern Karakoram range of glaciers of the Himalayas. At 76-kilometer-long, the Siachen glacier is the second-longest in the world’s non-polar areas. It falls from an altitude of 18, 875 feet above the sea level at its head. Extremely hostile terrain dotting the entire stretch of unyielding snow desert continues to extract humongous costs vis-à-vis precious lives, resources, resolve, and not to forget forbiddingly high revenue invested.
- Trying to imagine what would be the usually prevalent weather conditions there would make one shudder with dread as the temperatures could touch as low as – 60 degrees, yes you read it right, – 60 degrees. It varies from – 18 degrees to – 60 degrees. A chill runs down the spine by just imagining the low temperature. Not for nothing the Siachen base camp is nominated as one of the coldest battlefields in the world. Apart from frequent avalanches and landslides, soldiers positioned over there must also constantly battle frostbite and icy winds sweeping across the glacier rendering those brave-hearts exceedingly gullible to the vagaries of the uncertain weather.
Pc: The Heritage Foundation
- It is not rocket science to comprehend that the rarefied atmosphere on the higher altitudes places tremendous pressure on the lungs with the precious oxygen available for life sustenance coming at a premium, no less. Gasping for breath is a common phenomenon experienced by every soldier posted on those unfriendly posts. Six to seven layers of high-quality warm clothing are worn to protect from the extreme cold conditions. Uninitiated people would be surprised to know that the first casualty witnessed on those high altitudes is the appetite that simply folds up due to a combination of altitude and risky cold weather.
- The Army supplies a vast variety of high-quality food to soldiers posted at Siachen but the loss of appetite and cumbersome process of dishing out a decent enough meal extracts tremendous efforts as multi-layered clothing, fatigue, and general clumsiness gets in the way. Forget about partaking regular meal or relishing many delicacies we are so accustomed to as even drinking a can of fresh fruit juice is an exercise since the same must be boiled, made to cool and drink it before it freezes again. Less said the better about ablutionsand the difficulties associated with it. Suffice to say that lots of laxatives are used to ensure bowel movements.
- Here we are, well ensconced in the relative comforts of moderate weather conditions but still missing no opportunity to keep blaming on natural elements like rains, sun, wind, and cold without ever realizing how blessed we all should consider ourselves. Kindly spare a thought for those real brave heroes posted at those heights who forego everything else, including kith and kin, to ensure the nation stays safe from the enemy misadventures thereby allowing us to live at peace. No amount of gratitude will ever compensate for the sacrifices those soldiers undertake for the motherland. Jai Hind! Jai Jawan!