Images of India : One soldier dies every month in Siachen…

sandartistThe Siachen Glacier holds the distinction of being the world’s highest battlefield. Altitudes reach as high as 22,000 feet (Mount Everest is at 29,000ft) and temperatures dip below –45 degrees C. India has lost nearly one soldier every month due to avalanches or extreme climatic conditions, since first sending troops to the contested Himalayan area 32 years ago to counter the Pakistani Army. The toll includes 33 officers, 54 junior commissioned officers and 782 other ranks. India has spent billions on clothing and mountaineering equipment, much of it imported. Oxygen levels are low, and soldiers are prone to suffer from memory loss, blurred speech, frost bite, lung infection and severe depression. They also deal with the dangers of crevasses (long cracks or fractures in the ice surface), especially during the summer months. Transporting the most basic supplies in these conditions is an arduous task, with some posts accessible only by helicopters. A few posts use pulleys to hoist supplies up the mountainside. Nearly 3,000-4,000 troops from three battalions serve year round. Each battalion spends up to three months on the Glacier after acclimatisation.