Contrary to the much visited Fairy Meadows and Raikot face of Nanga Parbat, Diamir aka Diamoro (in local dialect) is much rugged, long and a raw trek. It takes a painstaking three days of a continuous trek to reach the south-western face of the mountain from where one can directly see the main summit standing at an altitude of 8,125m.
The trek shoots up from the local village of Guner Das some 15 kilometers beyond Chilas and the jeep trek takes about 2 hours to reach the Jeep stop which is also the Diamoro Village in the middle of the North-western flank of Himalayas. The jeep trek is less scary and steep as compared to the one that leads to the Fairy meadows but is a longer one and pliable by jeeps and locally operating station wagons alike.
The Diamir trek takes one from 1200m ASL from Chilas to 4800m ASL in a matter of three days breaking it to a roughly 1 km altitude gain every day. A few similarities this trek shares with Raikot trek is the ruggedness at the beginning and thick deciduous and coniferous forest at the end. The Base Camp itself is quite green in the summers and offers nutrition-rich grazing grounds for the local herdsmen.
Diamir Base Camp is particularly notable for its rich history of climbing expeditions spanning for more than 100 years. From the early days of imperial expeditions to the mainstream explorers, all the way to the renegade Hippy climbing bums, Daimir Face has been the center of attraction thereby boasting of a unique climbing history unlike any other face of the mountain.
The very first expedition to the mountain also chose the Diamir side in 1895 when Albert F. Mummery attempted the famous Mummery Rib reaching an altitude of 6100m and lost his life during the attempt. Nanga remained focus of the German expeditions in the early years of 1900s since Everest was under British control and most of today’s northern Pakistan was distributed into Princely states thus giving access to the Nazi Germany.
No fewer than 33 climbers lost their lives before the first successful assent from the Raikot side by Austrian Herman Buhl.
Diamir face is also the sight where the famous Reinhold Messner and his brother Gunther Messner decided to traverse Nanga for the first time in 1970 and Gunther lost his life while descending form the Diamir side. His body was later recovered from the glacier in proceeding years.
The most attempted routes from the Diamir side include the “Messner Route” aka “Messner Solo 1978” which constitutes to a relatively longer route to the summit starting from the base of the Diamir glacier and making a longer loop on the southern side. This route bypasses the hanging seracs at 6200m and crosses the Merkl Notch before reaching the top.
Most attempted route by far to this date, is the famous Kinshofer Route, first attempted by Toni Kinshofer, Anderl Mannhardt, Rudl Marek, Michl Anderl, Hubert Schmidtbauer, Manfred Sturm and Sigi Low. The team successfully overcame the demanding Kinshofer wall with a climbing difficulty of 5.7.
On June 21, 1962, Low, Kinshofer, Mannhardt, Sturm and Anderl reached Camp 4 at 7150m just around the Bazhin Basin and pushed for the summit the very next morning at 1 a.m.
Strum and Anderl turned back while Low, Kinshofer and Mannhardt pressed on to reach the summit after a gruesome 15 hours climb draining out all sense and energy. Particularly exhausted, Low slipped on a cornice and suffered a serious fall. Kinshofer decided to stay with Low while Mannhardt descended for help. Low later died and Kinshofer and Manhardt were rescued by a climbing team. Severely frost-bitten, Kinshofer and Mannhardt lost all their toes and other limbs and barely survived the ordeal. Mannhardt, in an interview later admitted that the summit success was grossly overshadowed by their struggle to survive. "At the time there was lots of talking about 'victory' over the mountain. … We felt the least victorious. We felt rather beaten. We felt we had failed."
Alex Txikon, Simone Moro and Ali Sadpara also chose the Kinshofer Route for the first successful winter ascent on Feb 26, 2016.
Mummery Rib is also one of the center attractions for climbers since the route has never been completed to the top. Italian Daniele Nardi successfully covered the Mummery Rib 6450m in 2013 but had to descend later because of climbing difficulties.
Mummery Route is one of the most direct routes to the top thereby also poses considerable difficulty with steep rocky ribs and little help for an easy climb. Mummery, 1895, wanted to reach the summit via this route climbing light with few provisions and some firewood which was found by an expedition 44 years later.
One of the recent routes include the Messner 2000 which starts from the northern edge of the Diamir Face and takes a long straight and gradually ascending route to the Northern Summit before joining the Kinshofer Route before the Bazhin Basin. This route was used by several winter Alpine expeditions.
Diamir Face continues to be the pinnacle of human endurance with an ostentatious climbing history spanning more than 100 years. Lack of visitors to this difficult trek has kept it in serene and unspoiled condition, offering breathtaking sites and places.
The race to one of the esteemed mountaineering pinnacles yet to be achieved is back in the heat again as some of the most high profile winter climbers are gearing up to climb one of the only two 8000ers, K2 and Nanga Parbat yet to be climbed in winters. Given the notoriety and extreme difficulty in climbing these two giants in winters, the coming three-month-rally will test the nerves and fitness of the ambitious expeditions set to conquer Nanga Parbat between 25th December to 1st March- the official time frame for a successful winter ascent.
Simone Moro & Tamara Lunger Expedition
Italian ace Simone Moro will be returning to make his third attempt of the peak possibly along with his Manaslu-2015 partner Tamara Lunger. The duo has remained tight-lipped about the revelation of their plans and the final announcement of their itinerary is still waited anxiously by mountaineering enthusiasts all over the world.
“In about a month and a half, we're leaving for another winter experience in Pakistan. There will be time to talk about the where, how and on what mountains we go”. Said Simone on his Facebook page.
Simone’s last attempt of Nanga Parbat was back in 2013-14 when he teamed up with photographer David Göttler and Italian climber Emilio Previtali. The team patiently waited for more than two months in the Base Camp, aiming for the summit through the The Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat, with the Schell Route. Backed up with the last minute accurate predictions from the weather wizard Karl Gable, Simone is undoubtedly the most sound and experienced winter climbers to pitch for another attempt of the Killer Mountain.
Alex Txikon, Daniele Nardi, Ferran Latorre and Janusz Golab Expedition
Another winter-weathered expedition comprising of Spaniard Alex Txikon, Italian Daniele Nardi and Ferran Latorre and Pole Janusz Golab will be making an attempt for the peak with Pakistani high altitude mountaineer Ali Sadpara. The team has already announced their plans of taking the Kinshofer Route from the Diamir side.
“Just want to confirm we'll go for Nanga Parbat (8.126m) in late December. The team this time: Ferran Latorre, Daniele Nardi, Ali 'Sadpara', Janusz Golab and me. Will again face the challenge following the Kinshofer Route in the Diamir Side. Thank you!” Alex mentioned on his Facebook page.
Tomek Mackiewicz and Elizabeth Revol Expedition
Tomek will be bustling with Nanga experience as he plans to make his sixth attempt of the ninth highest mountain along with compatriot Elizabeth who is also one of the most experienced female winter mountaineers in the world. This will Elizabeth’s third attempt for the peak on the Killer Mountain.
While Tomek, on the other hand, is the only human to have crossed/reached the 7000 meter threshold on Nanga in winters three consecutive times. His perseverance on Nanga parbat knows no bounds.
"I am most effective climbing on my own, taking my own route and going at my own rhythm in small team alpine style. My attention isn't distracted, I'm focused on specific actions and following my plan. I don't think that this is selfishness, but something that allows a deeper responsibility and belief that controlling my own mind and intuition, undistracted by other human energy, and charged by nature and from the rock itself, I can be closer to reaching my goal. I also know myself well enough to know that I am most effective acting autonomously. This is how I am. I know what my motivation and own way is. I believe that the summit of Nanga can be reached in winter." Said Tomek in an interview over his ambitious plan for Nanga 2015-16.
Northern areas of Pakistan were recently hit by a devastating 8.1 earthquake triggering widespread destruction in the country. The quake was preceded by heavy rain and snowfall in the northern regions increasing the possibility of harsh winters ahead.
Time is ripe for the greatest mountaineering event of contemporary times as the sturdy international team crouches to make the final leap to the top of K-2 which has remained un-climbed in winters.
Many rightfully consider it as the last greatest feat to be achieved in the record books of mountaineering.
Being the fourth winter expedition to the Savage Mountain, credentials of the team members are unflinching and hold impeccable respect, but do they have the right attitude for the giant feat they are about to undertake?
The question holds credibility after the reckless comments made by none other than the team leader Denis Urubko who has gone over the extent of calling this “Just another climb”.
Of all the good tidings mountaineering brings along with it, humility remains the most cherished treasure of all.
From the early climbers of the 18th century to the modern day Ice Warriors like Simone Moro, none has underestimated their enemy regardless of how big or small it might have been.
For the likes of Irishman Rory McElroy, who took golf by storm in his teens, pompous and reckless underestimation can hardly be life threatening. Golfers may have the luxury of making mistakes and learning from them.
For mountaineers-there is no room for mistakes.
The 41-year-old Urubko hails from Russia and was also part of the 2003 Winter Expedition to K-2 led by Andrzej Zawada. While establishing camps at the North Ridge on the Chinese side, Urubko climbed upto 7600 m but the team later decided to call off the expedition as one of the team member suffered from cerebral edema.
On a question regarding his personal capabilities, Urubko said, “Do you mean my personal ability? I think that I am able to reach 9,500 meters without oxygen… but on the easy (classic) route. The crisis limit when I was younger was above 8,600m; now it is higher, I suppose. This is due to my experience.”
He further added, “Each time I look at my ascents as being “normal”… during the climb. But after each expedition, looking back at what I had lived, I feel the fear. I feel amazed, too. I am wondering how I had survived.”
The team has decided to open up new route, the unexplored North East Ridge which meets up the old route above 7500m.
Rail track from Urumqi to Gwadar: Energy-starved China plans to follow the ancient Silk Route along Karakorum Highway
The Geo-strategic location of Pakistan has always been of elementary importance in shaping the lives of not only the people of the country but also the lives of the people living in the neighborhood and same can well be said about India. The construction of Karakorum Highway in the late 80’s was a breakthrough in the history of mega road projects in country and while it ushered an era of great economic and social progress of the conjoined regions, it also augmented the existing tensions between India and Pakistan.
Built with the support of China, KKH was seen as an eminent threat by the neighboring Indian which moved their battalions to the remote Siachen glacier in the extreme north in order to ensure its territorial hegemony which had been compromised by the KKH. Indians felt surrounded with both arch rivals Pakistan and China which have exposed the soft underbelly of the uncharted northern territories in the region.
After decades of showdown between the two countries fighting their territorial battles in what is often called as the highest battlefield in the world, China and Pakistan are now heading towards laying down a rail track which will join the energy starved southern regions of China with the Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Baluchistan, directly leading into Persian Gulf-the energy corridor of the world.
The researchers and analysts have called it a blind bet as the security situation in Pakistan remains fragile and the separatists’ movements in Baluchistan are still fairly strong to call their shots in their respective region. Notwithstanding, Chinese have already allocated funds for the preliminary feasibility study in this regard. Gwadar port was handed over to the Chinese earlier by the present government as the sole operator of the port.
“The 1800-kilometer China-Pakistan Railway is planned to also pass through Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad and Karachi”, said Zhang Chunlin, the director Xinjiang’s Regional Development and Reform Commission. He was speaking at the two-day seminar “The Silk Road Economic Belt” held last month in Urumqi.
He further added,” although the cost of constructing the railway is expected to be high due to the hostile environment and complicated geographic conditions, the study of the project has already started”.
The rail track is likely to follow the same route as that of the KKH with a handful of short cuts which will drastically reduce the total mileage of the road. The plan also includes laying a parallel pipeline for the uninterrupted supply of oil and gas to the energy-starved China.
“China and Pakistan will co-fund the railway construction. Building Oil and Gas pipelines between Gwadar Port and China is also on the agenda”, Zhang added.
Hub of industrial manufacturing in the world, China is constantly improvising to acquire alternate routes to the Middle Eastern and Iranian oil reserves since long. The transportation of fuel from the eastern shores of the China Sea all the way to the Western regions of the country incurs a mammoth cost to the Chinese economy every year. With access to a sea port in the Arabian Sea and that too just 1800kms away, will play a vital role in the economic growth of the southern region of Xinjiang.
The year 2014 is incontestably a matter of celebration for climbers and mountaineers when some 60 years ago first successful expedition stepped foot on top of the most savage and merciless mountain of all- The Dreaded K-2. In the month of July 1954, Italian Expedition led by the legendary Ardito Desio conquered the mighty K-2 which has already devoured countless mountaineers and climbers by that time.
It was a feat of great courage and endurance to tame the gigantic 8,611m granite pyramid, overpowering numerous challenges enroute to the top. Those were the testing times for Italians who have come out of the second World War, stricken and wounded. This victory was a much-needed catalyst to restore the long lost national pride for the Italians.
Sadly though, the country that owns the mountain and which has seen hundreds of successful expeditions to the top of this second highest mountain on earth, has never been able to find a handful f climbers who would scale the peak and claim the honour. Marking the 60th anniversary of the first assent, EvK2Cnr- an autonomous non-profit organization operating in the Hindukush, Karakorum and Himalaya regions will be organizing Pakistan’s first K2 Expedition in summers this year.
With the back up support of the Italian mountaineering experts and climbers, the first Pakistani K-2 expedition will be led by Muhammad Taqi while the rest of the expedition consists of Ali Durrani, Hasan Jan, Ghulam Mehdi, Muhammad Hassan and Ghulam Nabi. The cumulative age of the team varies from 23 as the youngest and 38 as the oldest member of the expedition.
President of EvK2Cnr Agostino De Polanza presented the idea ” Pakistani K-2 expedition 2014-60 years later” in January this year and said;
“We thought it would be nice, this time, that Italy would support a totally Pakistani expedition. An expedition that would give Pakistan a chance after 60 years of having its own group at the top of K-2, to celebrate a historic day as of July 31, 1954”.
EvK2Cnr has been actively involved in social as well as scientific development in the Gilgit-Baltistan province and has conducted several projects for the social uplift of the people of the region, scientific researches on the Baltoro and adjoining Glaciers, the environmental impact of the human and climbing activities on these glaciers etc. EvK2Cnr also organized the 50 years of first assent celebrations of K-2 in the year 2004.
Speaking over the major circumstances which led to this idea Mr. Polanza said; “The idea was born this summer on the Baltoro, after meeting a group of energetic and motivated Pakistani mountaineers who have climbed the Broad Peak. They will be the protagonists of the expedition to K2 next year. I think it is important to keep in the memory both of Italians and Pakistanis this great sporting and mountaineering event, that is also cultural and scientific”.
The press conference was attended by the Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan, Secretary GB and the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Picturesquely located on the summit of hill and surrounded by bluish water of River Jehlum, Ramkot Fort gives a majestic view to tourists.
Despite its condition, the fort is an exceptional example of the Muslim military architecture of central and southern Asia.
Ramkot Fort is built over the site of an old Hindu Shiva temple. After excavation, relics from the 5th and 9th centuries have been discovered near one of the temples.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Muslim rulers of Kashmir had built numerous forts, one of which is Ramkot to protect the state from warriors.
The Sikh Maharaja of Kashmir further fortified Ramkot. According to historians, Mahraja Hari Singh was last used by Maharaja Hari Singh.
The fort is located on the opposite side of the Mirpur town and one has to cross Mangla Lake on boat to reach there. A 10 minutes travel by road from Mirpur leads to Sukhian and nearby army water sports club from where boats are available for access to Ramkot Fort. It takes 45 minutes to reach there.
The place can also be visited from Mirpur via Dadyal-Siakh Road (77 km) but will have to take boat’s ride for 10 to 15 minutes to reach there.
Today the fort should be as appealing as a Scottish castle. However, the situation on ground is not as much optimistic.
Ramkot Fort today feels like an abode for ghosts and most of its parts have decayed and are lost forever.
Although the journey to the fort is tiresome owing to the lack of tourism facilities, there is plenty to enthrall those with a love for nature and ancient architecture. The mystery and majesty of this beautiful structure is yet to be tapped as a tourist resort.
In a time when our country is witnessing a harsh decrease in domestic as well as foreign tourism due to terrorism, sites like Ramkot Fort, which are located in a relatively peaceful area of the country, need to be highlighted.
In 2009, the World Economic Forum’s travel and tourism competitiveness report ranked Pakistan as one of the top 25 per cent tourist destinations for its world heritage sites. Pakistan’s rich heritage is one that outdoes many countries of the world.
Pakistan’s newly formed island all set to become a haven for the depleting Corals Reefs of Arabian Sea
24th September dawned as another tragic day for Pakistan as the country was jolted with a massive Earthquake with 7.7 magnitude, killing hundreds of people in the coastal regions and grounding many mud houses in the remote inaccessible areas.
Soon enough the reports started coming in of the emergence of a new island a few kilometers off the coast, spotted by the local fishermen.
About 60 to 70 feet (18 to 21 meters) high, up to 300 feet (91 meters) wide, and up to 120 feet (37 meters) long, the island shot up within no time bringing up several species of fish and octopus along with it. The island is predominantly made up of mud but a few rocks can also be seen. Many of the oceanographers and scientists regarded the emergence as a catastrophe for the marine environment of the region as the island continues to release flammable gases, possibly Methane, killing the marine life in several meters within the sea.
"The seabed near the Makran coast has vast deposits of gas hydrates, or frozen gas having large methane content.” Said Rashid Tabrez, the director-general of the Karachi-based National Institute of Oceanography. "These deposits lay compressed under a sediment bed that is 300m-800m thick. When the plates along the fault-lines move, they create heat and the expanding gas blasts through the fissures in the earth's crust, propelling the entire sea floor to the surface."
But not everyone has the same point of view regarding the notoriety of the new land. Bill Barnhart, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey remains skeptical about the stability of the island and remains adamant that the island will disappear within a few months as is one of the most probable features of the mud island all over the world.
"It's a transient feature.”It will probably be gone within a couple of months. It's just a big pile of mud that was on the seafloor that got pushed up." Said Barnhart. He also rejected the notion that the flammable gases can be Methane Hydrates as they are found much deeper off shore.
For the moment, defying all scientific presumptions, the island is standing tall and will gradually slide into a regular feature of the shore line along the Makran, Gwadar coasts. The toxic emissions will also cease as the ocean currents and decreasing pressures of the gas sources will gradually shut off the emissions and the island turn into a promising home of a diversified aquatic life.
South Asian seas are home to almost 34% of the total Coral Reef area in the world. Presence of Coral reefs in Pakistan’s Coastal region was discovered only recently in 2006 during a survey conducted with the collaboration of Pakistan Wetlands Programme and Millport University UK, around Astola Island. The survey identified 17 hard and soft species of Corals and 25 species of organisms which excrete Limestone, major constituent of Coral Reefs.
Coral Reefs play a decisive role in maintaining equilibrium in the aquatic ecosystem of seas and oceans. They provide spawning, nursery, refuge and feeding areas for a large variety of organisms, including economically important crustaceans (e.g. shrimps, spiny lobsters and crabs) and cephalopods (e.g. octopus, squids and cuttlefish) and thus providing revenue for local communities as well as national fishing fleets.
If properly managed, reefs can yield around 15 tons of fish and other seafood per square kilometer each year. The newly formed island will play an important role in providing promising ground for nurturing Coral Reefs along the seas shore of Pakistan.
The ban on Youtube which took effect after the release of the blasphemous movie “Innocence of Muslims” has now been in force for more than a year and is constantly being ignored by those at the helm of affairs.
Unfortunately though, it’s not just the government which has remained tight-lipped over the ban, the mainstream media has also conveniently ignored the ban adding to the misery of a crippled nation which in due course of time has forgotten to speak up for its rights.
The ban seems to have become a constant mockery of the way the successive governments work where they prefer to block the mobile networks as a means of thwarting terrorist attacks rather than utilizing more than a dozen security agencies which have turned into fat slimy leaches sucking on the taxpayers blood.
The current ban is longest-running act of online censorship in Pakistan's history.
So the relevant question in such a scenario would be “why the authorities continue to extend the ban on Youtube when they can effectively block the controversial URL’s on the pattern of other countries say Saudi Arabia”?
Every anomalous strategy or mindless silence towards a pertaining issue has, however, a relevant reason.
Youtube gained widespread recognition in the country when the scandalous spot-fixing Pakistani cricketers Muhammad Asif, Salman Butt and their accomplices were shot through a hidden camera and the footage was later broadcasted on Youtube.
This attracted the common man in Pakistan who probably never had accessed the site before. Followed by the revelations, Youtube became the most easily accessible source of bloopers and blunders of the government officials where one can find the Interior Minister Rehman Malik reciting wrong Surah Akhlaas to the video clips where many politicians can be seen making false promises and chanting fictitious slogans in order to fool their vote bank. Youtube became a nightmare for the politicians where one can find Altaf Hussain threatening to produce some more “bori band Lash” (bodies in bags), while the PMLN and PPP politicians contradicting their own statements and justifying their malefied allegiances.
During this mindless spat of censorship on Youtube, media has largely remained silent leaving many unanswered questions over its role as the flag bearer of the freedom of press. Betraying the trust it has been bestowed upon by the millions of Pakistanis, the mainstream TV channels have turned a blind eye over the endless ban on Youtube.
There are medical students who could have benefitted immensely watching live surgeries performed essentially for educational purposes. There are thousands of engineering students who could have benefitted from the various technical and experimental videos uploaded for better understanding of machines and engines and the usability of the thousands of newly developed techniques in research and development.
There are students of business and commerce and arts and literature who have been barred to access latest information on their respective subjects. Youtube remains one of the single most elaborate source of music, movies, dramas, live shows, documentaries, sports events and autobiographies of famous personalities throughout the history.
Arguably though, there can be hindsight of media’s questionable role during the extended ban on Youtube and its controversial role as a speechless spectator during this struggle.
Controlled by the influential anchor persons and reality show hosts, our TV channels have gradually become a slave to the machinations of these tactful gurus who play a crucial role in the ratings of the channels thereby churning out precious bucks for the wealthy owners. Youtube ripped off some of the famous show hosts where one self-proclaimed religious scholar was seen abusing and cursing off-record while there were anchorpersons who were caught discussing a fabricated interview with their guest. So many other self-proclaimed harbingers of truth, honesty and justice were exposed on the site. These media gurus are often termed as the front line soldiers of democracy, rule of law, and freedom of the press. Lifting the mindless ban on Youtube or to speak up against the ban, however, does not serve their purpose for obvious reasons.
Social media in Pakistan has evolved meteorically in the last five years sending shivers down the spines of the otherwise spineless leaders and capitalist cartels of the country. The mammoth growth in the users of Facebook and Twitter etc has given a new impetus to the concept of access to information and the freedom of expression and it will only be prudent of the present government to lift the ban on Youtube, putting in place a structure where the blasphemous material maybe blocked effectively on the likes of various other Muslim countries in the world.
The merciless and ever-pouring Monsoons in the western Himalayas have brought an end to what can be easily described as one of the bloodiest climbing seasons in the history of Mountain climbing in Pakistan. Home of some of the highest and most dangerous peaks in the world, Pakistan is often the destiny of the most celebrated climbers and adventure seekers from all over the world. Despite of the sensitive security conditions Pakistan manages to attract a huge chunk of climbing expeditions owning predominantly to the treasure trove of skyline the country has been blessed with.
The US State Department like many other western countries has categorized Pakistan as an unsafe destination and renews its travel warning at the beginning of each year since the start of the War on Terror. Fortunately, majority of the climbing enthusiasts have overlooked these warnings and have dared to venture into far north of the country, relying mostly on the unblemished record of the Northern areas of Pakistan.
This year, however, their dreams were short-lived.
The summer climb in the country started with the gruesome massacre of 11 foreign tourists at the Base Camp of Nanga Parbat, which shook the entire climbing world leaving an irremovable stain on the history of hospitality and love of the Northern region. The local tourism industry, as small as it may have been, suffered a severe blow and many of the tour operators, mountain guides, trekkers and hoteliers were taken aback as they pondered over the horrific future of tourism in the region. But as it goes in the laws of the fearless and passionate mountain climbers, nothing could have possibly stopped them from travelling to the north, even at the cost of their lives. In total contrast to the widely held post-Nanga Parbat-massacre views, climbers tourists and adventure seekers thronged the Gilgit and Skardu regions, providing valuable subsistence to the local tourism industry of the region.
There were however, bigger challenges waiting for these enthusiasts far north. Challenges bigger than the mankind itself.
Gasherbrum-1 Artur Hajzer bows out !
The first tragedy struck at Gasherbrum-1 where the Polish climbing legend Artur Hajzer went missing in the Japanese Couloir along with his compatriot Marcin Kaczka. One of the ace winter climbers of the country, Artur was among the legendary pack of “Ice Warriors” Wanda Rutkiewicz, Krzysztof Wielicki and Jerzy Kukuczka who conquered the deadly Annapurna for the first time in winters. Artur also spearheaded the successful winter assents of Gasherbrum-1 just last year in the winters.
Search and rescue operations suffered consecutive halts due to inclement weather and Arutur was later declared dead by the Polish Winter Mountaineering. Artur’s demise is undoubtedly one of the biggest losses of all climbing community in the world.
The 8,047m Gasherbrum-1 was not done yet.
Gasherbrum-1- The Spanish Tragedy !
The next tragedy struck the sturdy Spanish Gasherbrum-1 Expedition on July 22nd when they attempted to make the final summit push in spite of approaching turbulence in weather.
Eager to bag the peak, the expedition started the final push in the early hours of 21st July from their last camp. Oscar Cadiach and Patxi Goni retreated from around 7000m due to changing weather. Alfredo Garcia and David Lopez also turned back shortly before the summit, while Xevi Gomez, Alvaro Paredes and Abel Alonso made it to the top-only never to be seen again.
The Search and Rescue Operations (SAR) continued relentlessly till the 26th of July followed by an official announcement that the troika is presumed lost and dead.
Kiwi duo declared Lost and Dead at K-2
And while G-1 was busy sketching fatal plans of its own, just at a stones-throw-away the Killer Mountain, “K-2” waited quietly for its prey.
Standing at a colossal 8,367m K-2 is known for its hostility towards the climbers lashing them with gale-force winds studded with a tricky layout of crevasses and massive avalanches. It was one of the corporate-commercial show down of some 21 sporadic climbers who started their attempt on July 24th but all retreated to BC in wake of bad weather. The Kiwi dad-and-son duo Marty and Denali Schmidt attempted to conquer the giant all by themselves.
The two continued their climb to Camp-3 on the Abruzzi Ridge. According to the last reports from the Alpine Club of Pakistan Press Release, the duo reached C-3 safely before the BC lost contact with them. High Altitude Porters and Sherpa were sent over to C-3 on 27th who later discovered that the camp was swept away by a massive avalanche and there was no trace of father and son.
The Schmidts were known to be excellent climbers and there loss will definitely create a big vacuum for the sports of mountain climbing in New Zealand.
Iranian Broad Peak Tragedy !
Then there were the fateful Iranians who made the dreadful mistake of climbing down the Broad Peak from the wrong ridge. At altitudes as high as 8000m in the merciless Karakorum, there are no second chances. Three climbers Aidin Bozorgi, Pouya Keivan and Mojtaba Jarahi attempted the new route and scaled the peak successfully only to fall victim of a slight variation in the descending route. They ended up stranded at an altitude of 7500m and made the SOS call through their Thuraya cell phone.
Thomas Laemmle, the famous sports scientist and high altitude physiologist who was on his way back to Skardu after successfully scaling and skiing Gasherbrum-2, when he received the call for a SAR operation. Utilizing two Ecureuil AStar AS 350 helicopter from the Pakistan army (the best high altitude SAR helicopters) Thomas attempted to locate and rescue the three climbers and made several attempts to track the only alive mountaineer who needed evacuation. Later the attempts were abandoned due to bad weather.
Thomas gave his expert opinion later in the press conference and said,
"I strongly believe none of the three Iranian climbers is alive anymore, due to the high altitude where they are now for one week and dehydration”.
He further added,
“There is no chance to evacuate their bodies because they are far away from the normal route in an altitude of minimum 7500 m. Helicopters will only evacuate people/bodies up to 5800m. Higher up everything has to be done by humans. There have been evacuations before in this altitude but only on the normal route. We do have two clues where the bodies might be:
1) last Thuraya phone call and
2) yellow spot on a photo.
Both locations are above 7500m off the normal route and 500m in altitude away from the summit and the normal route. No chance for evacuation!”
The climbing season in Pakistan has come to a sad end where many climbers and adventurers lost their lives in the ultimate quest of exploring and pushing the humanly limits of endurance. The winter season will kick off in the month of November where some of the best climbers in the world will attempt the only two remaining 8000ers in the world K-2 and Nanga Parbat for the first winter assent.
EvK2Cnr and Pakistani Government signs MOU for Central Karakorum National Park and extended support for scientific research
Italian High Commission’s tireless efforts to promote environmental conservation in the mighty Himalayas and Karakorum in Pakistan yielded positive results when the Global Change Impact Studies Center and EvK2Cnr signed a memorandum of understanding. The MOU will facilitate the establishment of regional centers in the Karakorum to conduct extensive research on the geographical terrain. This is the first of its kind agreement signed between the Pakistani Government and an outside body and envisions a wide range of subjects including the layout of the Central Karakorum National Park.
There has been a pressing need to conduct extensive research studies on the massive glacial system the country possess and many of the foreign agencies wanted a platform which would facilitate the said research work in the area.
This MOU will help the establish research centers which will facilitate activities related to scientific and observational studies on climate change. This will enable the researches all over the world to ascertain the causes and effects of Global Warming and its impact on the glacial system of the subcontinent.
The MOU was signed between the Federal Minister for Climate Change Rana M Farooq Saeed Khan, the Director General of the Ministry Javaid Ali Khan and the EvK2Cnr representative Agostina Da Polenza.
“Today was a very important agreement was signed.” said Polenza, “EvK2Cnr received in this case the recognition and interest to cooperate by not just bodies or agencies or the regional governments but by the national government of the entire country like Pakistan.”
The MOU was signed in Islamabad on a day where the federal capital received one of the heaviest downpours of spring after 14 years. The hailstorm lasted for several minutes rolling out a white carpet on the otherwise lush green terrain of the city.
Polenza added, “This agreement was accompanied by one of the most cheerful, exceptionally loud ice storm I have ever witnessed. I could not help but feel the storm as a testament to what is appropriate to continue to study the climate and its stark cambimenti.
EvK2Cnr also presented a layout of the Central Karakorum National Park which will include the high lands of the Khunjerab Pass in the northern-most end of the country. The committee has worked extensively in the past three years to create awareness about the degradation of regional ecology and the aftermath of the disturbance caused by it.