Indian Regulations Update. The UIAA was categorically assured by Mohamad Ashraf, Vice-President of the Indian Mountaineering Federation, at the Flagstaff, Arizona Council Meeting held the third week of May, 1996, that there is no policy to exclude foreign expeditions from any 7000-meter peak, unclimbed or not. It would seem that information (current in January), that unclimbed 7000-meter peaks were to be reserved for Indian climbers was a trial balloon, and that the outcry raised by the UIAA and others was enough for the plan to be withdrawn.
There may, however, still be delays and difficulties in some areas:
Eastern Kashmir. This is a war zone, and the military may not permit entry for military reasons even if a permit has been granted, and even if the expedition is part Indian.
Arunachal Pradesh (Eastern Himalaya): This has only recently been opened to foreigners, and some local officials seem to be unaware of this.
The Inner Line was recently revised northward, but again this does not seem to be known to all local officials.
In 1995 there were quite a few problems of this bureaucratic kind. In general, rules have tightened up considerably, and it is a lot harder to “get away” with minor infractions. Always be nice to your LO, and treat the IMF officials with scrupulous politeness. Rudeness, as several parties have discovered at their own expense, is totally counterproductive.
Whatever your trekking agent may say, make sure you have permission in writing before you get to India, and make sure you have the special “D” visa, which has been a requirement for many years (though one nobody bothered about until recently). Apply directly to the IMF for a permit rather than going through a trekking agent. Once you have the permit, get your trekking agent from the list approved by the IMF.
All information regarding regulations and other matters in the Himalayan countries can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.ul.ie/~mci/uiaa.html
Spiti (Himachal Pradesh)