In Conversation with ‘Tenzing Norgay’ Awardee Colonel Sarfraz Singh

'Tenzing Norgay' Awardee Col. Sarfraz Singh spoke to MVI's Aritra Banerjee about his dare devil achievements in the highly specialised field of adventure sports, in his first interview since receiving the highest national honour.

In Conversation with ‘Tenzing Norgay’ Awardee Colonel Sarfraz Singh

Colonel Sarfraz Singh, an officer of the elite 6 PARA, Director National Institute Mountaineering and Allied Sports (NIMAS,) is a seasoned mountaineer who recently received the prestigious ‘Tenzing Norgay’ award under the category of Land Adventure. This award is the highest recognition in the field of adventure sports in the nation. This highly accomplished paratrooper has climbed several difficult peaks including Mt. Everest, Mt. Trishul, Mt. Nun, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Gorichen, Mt. Harmukh and Kangto-6.

He is amongst a handful of elite mountaineers to have climbed every peak he has led as a team leader. He has also led a High Altitude Mountain Terrain Biking expedition and has cycled all the way from India to Singapore covering more than 4000 km. Col. Safaraz Singh, son of the legendary Hockey Champion Balbir Singh,  is also professionally qualified in scuba diving, rafting, skydiving, and Mountain Terrain Biking (MTB).

Col. Sarfaraz spoke exclusively to ‘Mission Victory India’ about his recent achievement...

Q: What piqued your interest towards adventure sports, and what keeps you going?

Ans: I belong to a family which has an immensely rich sporting tradition. My grandfather played hockey with the legendary Major Dhyan Chand and my father is a Hockey Olympic and Asian Gold Medalist. I belong to the elite Parachute Regiment where adventure activities are encouraged, and I commanded 6 PARA which had legendary mountaineers like Col. Balwant Sandhu (Arjuna Awardee). Even the present Subedar Major of the unit is an Everester.

Q: How is the physical and mental preparation process of these diverse adventure events like?

Ans: If a person is physically fit and has mastered the basic mountaineering skills, one does not have to bother much about the physical preparation. It can be developed with ease by following a strict training schedule. Mental toughness, which some call grit, resilience, self-confidence, or determination, needs to be continuously developed over a period to get the job done.

Remember: Your strongest muscle and your worst enemy is your mind; train it well.

Living a life less ordinary

Q: How does it feel to continue the 6 Para tradition of being conferred the Tenzing Norgay award?

Ans: I am elated to have been conferred with India’s highest National Adventure Award. It will now be a proud moment for 6 PARA to display an Arjuna Award and two Tenzing Norgay Awards in the Officers Mess —the first for lifetime achievement and the second in the land adventure category. Our rich traditions and the working ethos of the Paltan sets us apart from the rest.

Q: Do you believe adventure sports can help officers deal with the rigours of the job better?

Ans: Most of the adventure activities are strongly associated with our professional job. It will not only assist the young officers in enhancing their fitness levels but also in honing their decision-making skills under adverse conditions. They’ll be in a better position to undertake special operations like Cliff Chop Assault, Skiing Patrolling, Small Team Insertion and Extraction (STIE), Helo-casting, long duration surveillance and rescue operations in snow bound and flood affected areas.

Col. Singh Receiving an award from former defence minister Nirmala Sitaraman

Q: What is one stand-out expedition memory?

Ans: It was a moment of joy and satisfaction which I experienced at 6:20 am on 20 May 2018 while standing on the summit of Mount Everest (8848 M).

Q: What is next on your adventure sports resume?

Ans: I have a huge ambitious bucket list which I hope to complete by 2025. At present my focus is to climb the highest unclimbed peak of Eastern Himalayas, Mount Kangto (7060 M).


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