Indian Navy Vice-Admiral Sanjay Bhalla flagged off an expedition to the challenging Mt. Bhagirathi-II peak, comprising 15 officers and sailors and led by a woman officer, here on Wednesday.

Receiving the expedition team here, Vice-Admiral Bhalla presented the ceremonial ice axe to the leader, Commander Kokila Sajwan, at a ceremony late on Tuesday.

The team includes another woman officer, Commander Nandini Dam Roy, and the 21-day expedition will attempt to scale the 6,512-metre tall peak in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand on September 30.

The team would unfurl the new Indian Navy ensign as a tribute to the five members of the naval expedition who perished on Mt. Trishul two years ago on this day after getting trapped in an avalanche.

On September 30, 2021, five Indian Navy officers and a porter were killed in a massive avalanche that hit Mt. Trishul-I, which stands 7,120 metres tall.

They were: Rajnikant Yadav, Yogesh Tiwari, Anand Kukreti, Hari Om, and others, who were barely 500 metres away from the summit when the tragedy struck the 20-member team on the ascent.

Mt. Bhagirathi-II has a difficult gradient and is a recognised expedition peak for ‘technical climbing’ which offers numerous challenges to the climbers.

While Commander Sajwan is posted at the Naval Ship Repair Yard in Karwar, Commander Roy serves as the Warship Overseeing Team in Kolkata.

Mt. Bhagirathi-II is part of the four imposing peaks, and the second tallest in the group, in the region.

It was first conquered by an Austrian team in 1933 and then summited first by an Indian team only after another 33 years, in 1966.

The peaks are named after King Bhagiratha, who is said to have brought the River Ganga to the earth from the heavens.