Darjeeling is located in a hilly region with the proximity of the world’s highest peaks the Mt. Everest, Makalu in Nepal, and Mt. Kanchenjunga in nearby Sikkim. One of the first persons to climb Mount Everest, Tenzing Norgay Sherpa belonged to Darjeeling. After the success of the conquer of Mount Everest the Darjeeling Himalayan institute was established in the year 1954 to ignite the spark of the mountain climbing among the youths of India. Tenzing Norgay Sherpa happened to be the first director of the North East mountaineering institute in the field training area and personally prepared the youth for the climbing.

The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute ( HMI) was established on the 4th of November 1954 with the official inauguration by the first prime minister of free India Jawahar Lal Nehru. Soon after the inauguration of HMI is caught the world attention as it was the hometown of the Tenzing Sherpa and also the tourists from around the world got an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Darjeeling hills. The HMI was previously located at on the Lebong road and was later moved to the present day location at the Birch hill.

The HMI is an autonomous body that comes directly under the Government of India and the Government of west Bengal and is headed by the honourable union minister of defence who is the president. The Vice President ship of the organisation is held by the chief minister of West Bengal.

The HMI not just focuses on the making of the climbers but also teaches the youths the sense of discipline, leadership and the character building as an important part of the training which is very much required to become a successful mountaineer.

The HMI conducts a total of about 16 courses every year in which one course is especially for the visually impaired persons and one on the method of instruction (MOI), which is for those who wish to make mountaineering their career as an instructor. The fees for the courses here are very much nominal and subsided by the government to help the eager climbers and the seats for the courses are provided on the first come first serve basis.

There are basically two main courses provided by HMI – the basic course and the other is the advanced course.

The basic course is conducted for a period of 28 days in which during the first five days the aspirants are given theoretical some basic ideas in and around Darjeeling. The next 7 days are spent at an altitude of about 14,600ft followed by the field training above the base camp for a period o f 14 days. Finally the remaining two days of the month long course ends with the awarding of the basic climbers with certificates.

The advanced courses is however not everybody’s cup of tea. Only those enthusiasts who manage to obtain the grading A in the basic courses are eligible for the advanced courses. The advanced course again is hold for a period of 28 days and it prepares the youth for not just conquering of the peaks but also the help out in the rescue operations at higher altitudes.

The HMI has trained thousands of youth from the country and also many international aspirants and inspiring them to climb from peak to peak.