SRINAGAR: Driven by his resolve to demonstrate before the world that people with disability are capable of performing any task, a youth from the saffron town Pampore in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district set a world record by scaling the Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world.

Irfan Ahmad Mir, 24, a resident of Dusoo village in the outskirts of historic Pampore Town, is one among the eight people with disabilities who set a world record by climbing to a height of 15,632 feet on Siachen.

“Simply walking on Siachen glacier is a big challenge, and climbing it in freezing temperature through unseen and untouched terrain was a daunting task, where there was a little difference between life and death. But, I was determined that I had to reach up to Kumar post to break the stereotypes which challenge the worth of differently abled people,” shares Mir, who has visual impairment since childhood.

The summit was organized by Conquered Land Air Water (CLAW), an organization floated by army veterans. The organization trains people with disabilities to achieve rare feats on land, in water and the sky.

Their first such feat was to scale Siachen up to the Kumar post on foot.

Siachen is the largest glacier outside polar / subpolar regions, in Karakoram range of the Trans-Himalayas near the Indo-Pak border. Both India and Pakistan lose soldiers in this region due to the extreme climatic conditions including subzero temperatures, the constant threat of avalanche, crevasses in the glacier and high speed winds.

Mir recalls that it was in July last year that a post from CLAW went viral on social media, in which the organization was looking for people with disabilities, especially from Jammu and Kashmir, for the expedition.

He revealed his intention to join the expedition to his parents, who not only supported him but boosted his morale to participate. Encouraged by parental support, he curiously started inquiring about the expedition and eventually was selected for it.

The team was flagged off from New Delhi on 15 August, 2021 and reached Ladakh via Himachal where they were rigorously trained and acclimatised with the cold climatic conditions.

“The actual climbing began from 7 September and finally, on 11 September, 2021 we summitted Kumar post,” Mir proudly tells The Citizen, adding that it was a challenge because he was not sure where his steps would land.

“We were eight people, four visually impaired, three with upper limb and one with lower limb disability. We set a world record, this was done by us for the first time. It was a difficult task, we faced many challenges in subzero temperature, but I was determined that I had to reach there to send a message in the society - that if differently abled persons can hike on Siachen then we can handle minor daily chores at home or in the office hands down,” says Mir.

Irfan first hit the headlines back in 2018 when he became the first Kashmiri blind cricketer to represent India at the international level.

He was looked up to by many as an inspiration after he represented the Indian team.

“In 2015, I went to Deharadun to undergo a three-month course in ‘Adjustment for the Blindness Training’ at the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped. During trials at Dehradun, I was picked for the Uttar Pradesh Cricket team for blinds, and then I represented the UP national team from 2015-2016.

“In 2017, I along with other players formally launched the J&K blind cricket team.”

The following year, Irfan received a call from the Cricket Association for the Blind in India informing him of his selection for a three match T20 bilateral series against England.

“The first person I informed about the selection was my father, he was very happy for me.”

Abdul Sattar Mir, aged father of the young cricketer and climber from Pulwama, told The Citizen that he is proud on his son for scaling Siachen and representing the Indian cricket team for blinds.

“My son despite being a differently abled person has achieved many feats, he proved his mettle, and it is because of him that we became known in entire J&K,” said Sattar.

He shared that Irfan was given a hero’s welcome on both occasions, after being selected for the international squad and upon summitting Siachen, by neighbours, relatives and friends.

Irfan adds that his quest to achieve more has not ended here, and with dedication and hard work, anyone can make impossible things possible.