What a view he must be having.
Waiting for his sure death.
Tucked in a snow cave at 7200m-just underneath the summit dome.
He must be smiling up at ‘her’ and looking down at us with a smooth calm and unwavering peace.
He had done miracles for himself before, walking into the Base Camp like a ghost when he had been presumed dead and missing for 21 days.
Carrying bulk loads of deposits all by him. Going back and forth countless times on Nanga.
This time around, however, he can’t walk and can’t even see.
Of whatever little I have known of Tomek Mackiewicz, he must be a happy man lying alone at 7200m waiting for the unavoidable.
This was his seventh consecutive attempt to stand on top of the “Killer” and only the first that he ever made it to 8000m mark. Though there are unconfirmed reports of a summit success on this final attempt but his pilgrimage to Nanga in all these years was far from summits and medals and acclamation.
For Tomek, Nanga was his peace, his freedom, his liberation.
I first met Tomek at Diamir Base Camp on January 2016, when, out of nowhere, he popped into our kitchen tent asking for “garam Chaye” (hot tea). It had hardly been a day when we have established “Pakistan Explorer Reporting Room” right in the middle of four international expeditions at Diamir Base Camp. Initially it was challenging for the team to acclimatize to 4800m in six feet deep snow and temperatures close to -20 Celsius.
We instantly struck a chord with this burly straw-haired fellow presenting a true depiction of climbing bums of the Hippy era, always with a sunny disposition and a warming smile to greet the onlooker. Our kitchen tent was standard tent not made out to withstand the extreme conditions we had subjected it to, but with the kerosene stove always on fire, it was warm and cozy and embracing. We smoked and laughed and had a lot of tea before he left to report the boss and climbing partner Elizabeth Revol (Eli).
Next morning Tomek and Eli left for more deposits on higher camps and Tomek promised to meet us in Islamabad on his way back. I have a vivid memory of a bright full moon night when we were close to village SER on our way back. We turned around hoping to have a glimpse of maybe a headlamp somewhere near the summit, clearly failing to establish the scale of the massive Nanga Parbat.
Tomek and Eli returned to Islamabad after two weeks, when they had outrun their supplies at the Base Camp and they both stayed at our Bed & Breakfast in Islamabad. Eli had a short stay while Tomek stayed for almost a week, including that “dreadfully historic” day when Nanga was captured in winters for the first time in 30 years.
Tomek was shattered and broke.
He was in complete disbelief.
He refuted the claim citing clear deviation of Alex’s tracker which had gone wayward several times around the summit dome.
His tweets and reactionary posts created quite a controversy where he refused to accept it as a summit success and demanded photo and videographic proofs.
He left with a broken heart. An altogether different Tomek.
This year when he decided to return for the seventh attempt, I feared this will end in a disaster.
It was hardly the same Tomek who would walk down from 6000m trapped for days in a snow cave.
He was not the Tomek who would carry 30kgs of rucksacks to high camps all by himself.
He was not the Tomek who had a brilliant funny bone and who was always smoking like a steam engine.
This was a lost Tomek.
A lover without his beloved.
A Poet who has forgotten to write.
A ship without sails.
Since the beginning of his last venture on Nanga I somehow knew that if Tomek came anywhere close to 8000m mark, he would throw-in everything to stand on top risking his life and limb.
They were last spotted at 8000m mark by the Base Camp crew claiming they were moving further up before it went cloudy and they were not visible anymore. They not only reached the base of the summit dome but they have been half way up the trapezoid for the first time in seven years. It was inescapably a defining moment for Tomek to reach out and grab the summit. We still wait for the confirmation from Eli whether the devastated duo made it all the way to the top.
“when everything disappears, the time, death, life, problems……… because when you are very close to the death… you are very close to the end… every problem disappears”- Tomek during an interview to Pakistan Explorer Feb 2016
I got a call yesterday from Sawal Faqeer- a senior guide who has seen countless expeditions on Diamir face and have known dozens of deaths on the Killer Mountain.
He broke down listening to the news.
“Ghani” a good a friend and a porter, must be shattered and broke over the loss.
People of Diamir loved Tomek and Tomek loved them too.
Less of a climber, more of a friend and a genuine human being.
Enjoy the view mate and Rest in Peace!
By: Naveed Abdul Bari
January 29, 2018
The erstwhile state of Bahawalpur is the expanse of plains and desert, bounded by Sutlej, Chenab and Indus rivers towards the north and the west. The territory enclosed the Cholistan desert spread over 27,000 square kilometers.
This state used to be a fertile region nourished by the Hakra river in the antiquity and the civilization of this region has a history dating back to almost 4000 BC.
The region is spotted with remains of three rows of forts. A line began from Phulra and ended in Lera, another line from Rukhanpur to Islamgarh, and the third from Bikaner to Kapoo. Mostly in ruins now, some of them date back to 3000 years and have been destroyed and rebuilt many times.
The region is steeped in ancient history resonating in the folklore, poetry, handicrafts, dances and myths. The built assets include the archeological sites, forts and settlements.
The region has been the cradle of many a glorious empires including the Abbasid State - one of the richest and benign princely states of the subcontinent.
In 14th century, Sultan Ahmad Abbasi son of Abbasid Caliph Muzammil moved from Cairo to Sind via Kech/ Makran. Accompanied by Arab loyalists already settled in Sind, he confronted Raja Rai Dhorang. He wrestled territory from the Raja and established a dominion in Bankar/ Bhangira/ Kot Kanji and Qila Parkar.
Six generations later, a highly competent leader, Channi Khan Abbasi was appointed Panj Hazari by Prince Murad son of Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was given control of territory from Ubaru to Lahri Bandar.
Many generations later, during the years 1723-46, Nawab Sadiq Khan Abbasi I moved to Khanpur, DG Khan and Uch, capturing Qila Dad Machi enroute. In 1727, he laid foundations of the state of Bahawalpur. He also annexed Shehr Farid and wrested Derawar Fort from the ruler of Jaisalmer.
The state evolved and stretched 200 miles including Din Garh, Mauj Garh, Wullar, Hasilpur, Fort Abbas, Lodhran, Mailsi, Multan, Muzaffar Garh, Mubarakpur and Minthar.
From 1746-50, Nawab Bahawal Khan Abbasi I abandoned Shikarpur and totally focused on the state in Bahawalpur region. In 1747, he established Baghdad-ul-Jadid/ Bahawalpur and shifted the state capital.
From 1750-72, Nawab Mubarak Khan Abbasi II, expanded territory to include Derawar, Rahimyar Khan, Khairpur, Marot, Qaimpur, Islam Garh/ Bheem Garh, Kot Sabzal, Mubarakpur, Garhi Shad Khan, Ahmedpur Lamha, Minthar, Mailsi, Lodhran, Muzaffar Garh.
From 1772-1809, Nawab Bahawal Khan Abbasi II annexed Uch and started the mint with approval from Afghan King Mahmud Shah. In 1780, Mughal Emperor Shah Alam-II conferred titles of Rukn-ud-Doula, Nusrat Jung and Hafiz-ul-Mulk to the Nawab Ameer while in 1802, title of Mukhlis-ud-Daula was conferred by the King of Kabul.
From 1809-25, Nawab Sadiq Khan Abbasi II and from 1825-52 Nawab Bahawal Khan Abbasi III faced the challenge of Ranjit Singh from north, however, sustained the state while shaping an alliance with the British. The boundary of Bahawalpur State was defined by Sutlej, Chenab and Sind rivers.
From 1852-53, Nawab Sadiq Khan Abbasi III, from 1853-58, Nawab Fateh Khan Abbasi, from 1858-66, Nawab Bahawal Khan Abbasi IV, from 1866-99, Nawab Sadiq Khan Abbasi IV succeeded the throne. Nawab Sadiq Khan Abbasi IV ordered construction of Noor Mahal. He also inaugurated Bahawal Victoria Hospital and Sadiq Egerton College.
From 1899-1907, Nawab Bahawal Khan Abbasi V ruled the state. In 1902, he founded the orphanage and in 1904, he ordered construction of Darbar Mahal, Farrukh Mahal, Nishat Mahal and Gulzar Mahal.
Bahawalpur State survived the test of times as perilous as the expeditions of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali, disintegration of Mughal Empire, pressure from bordering Sikh state and the British expansion- courtesy to the acumen and statesmanship of nawabs.
By the end of 19th century, Bahawalpur State comprised an area larger than Denmark or Belgium. Its eastern border was 300 miles, the western border was River Indus, the northern border was River Sutlej and its southern border was shared with Sindh. The ruler also enjoyed special protocol conferred by the British since 1866 as he was accorded 17 canons salute and had special access to the Viceroy of British India.