A high-powered delegation of Thailand, led by none other than the distinguished Royal Thai Princess Maha Chakkri Sirinthon herself, visited the ancient Buddhist remains at Taxila, Sirkap and Julian on Tuesday, March 20 to witness the grandeur and archaeological remains of the once thriving Buddhist civilization in this part of the region.
She was accompanied by Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Special Assistant to Prime Minister, and other members of the delegation. She also visited Dharmarajika Stupa and Sirkap.
Princess lauded the steps taken by the successive Pakistani governments to preserve and restore the ancient sites and said that she was impressed by the quality of the archaeological restoration work carried out at these sites.
The Thai delegation took a whole day to visit these sites, exploring and asking question regarding the primitive Buddhist sculptures and statues.
“It is an exciting experience to tour Taxila,” said delegation members. They said Taxila was like a book on the Buddha.
Taxila and many of the adjacent ruins are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the history of the region dates back to 5th Century BC. The city dates back to the Gandhara period and contains the ruins of the Gandhāran city of Takṣaśilāwhich was an important Hindu and Buddhist centre, and is still considered a place of religious and historical sanctity in those traditions. By some accounts, Taxila was considered to be amongst the earliest universities in the world and is well known for its association with Chanakya, also known as Kautilya, the strategist who guided Chandragupta Maurya and assisted in the founding of the Mauryan Empire.
Taxila is located 549meters above sea level and holds some of the best preserved stupas and Buddhist statues in the world. In 2006 it was ranked as the top tourist destination in Pakistan by The Guardian newspaper.
Pakistan Explorer regret to inform the whole climber community that the SAR (search and rescue operation) has been called off and Gerfried Goeschl’s brother Wolfgang Goeschl was also in agreement to this, as after extensive SAR efforts, no track of Gerfried Goeschl, Cedric Hahlen, and Nissar (Hussain) Sadpara were found. The choppers made a search flight and reached up to a height of 7000m in an effort to search the plateau between 7000m and 7400m, which was climbed by the International Team (reported by Artur Hajzer). Also, Hajzer along with his team members observed the choppers carrying out the SAR operation from the BC. A small memorial ceremony was carried out and Hajzer, Agnieszka Bielecka, frostbitten Alex Txicon and Darek Zaluski have started packing-up to depart the BC. The other team members (Adam Bielecki, Janusz Golab and Tamara Stys) have already left the BC (for a detailed report please check back with us again).
We (team of Pakistan Explorer) send our condolences to the climber's families and the climber community over the irreparable and grievous loss.
Throngs of Pakistani climbers have joined in the efforts to reinforce the Search and Rescue (SAR) operations on the Gasherbrum-1 in an attempt to rescue the three missing climbers of the International team.
The Polish team is still in the Base Camp on the north side and Shaheen Baig, one of the High Altitude Porter and climbing mate of the Poles has already reached the Camp-1 on the north. He is accompanied by Abbas, another experienced climber from Pakistan, originally hired as the kitchen team by the Poles.
Rescue choppers provided by the Pakistan Military are still grounded as they pilots wait for the favourable weather window and make a quick deposit on Camp-2, at 6000meters (the maximum approximate height choppers can reach).
Polish team leader Artur Hajzer, although having mild frostbite, is monitoring the rescue efforts and said, “Shaheen and Abbas should continue tomorrow further up to C2, weather permitting”.
Meanwhile, another contingent of three renowned Pakistani climbers, Hassan Sadpara (Mount Everest Summiteer), Ali Raza Sadpara and Nazir Sadpara are also waiting for the weather to clear up so they can start off from Camp-2.
The three missing climbers Gerfried Goschl (Austria), Cedric Hahlen (Swiss) and Nisar Hussain (Pakistan) are missing on the 8,068 meters peak since Friday, March 9. For the moment, none of the rescue team members are hopeful of finding anyone alive as it has been more than five days.
Artur added, “As you know – Goschl’s team is
missing. We help in organizing the search, but we fear the worst. The team was on the summit cone on 9th March at midday, when the weather hell broke loose”.
The SAR operations are now only an attempt to find the remains of the unfortunate climbing team. Earlier, there were strong hopes that the presence of Hussain in the team can possibly help them find a suitable bivouac where the team can wait for a rescue team. Hussain, working as HAP and a close friend of Goschl since 2003, has been on top of the G-1 several times.
Gasherbrum 1 has been conquered for the first time in winters and a bar has been set for other climbers by the Poles. Take a look at the summit through the lens of a camera.
Hopes are fading with each passing hour as Search and Rescue Operations have not kicked in as yet because of the prevailing bad weather. It is now more than 90 hours that the climbers Gerfried Goschl, Nisar Hussain and Cedric Hahlen have gone missing on the 8,068meters Gahserbrum-1 and they have made no contact to either the Base Camp or their respective homes.
Help was sought by the Pakistan Military choppers and although two choppers have been despatched for the purpose, the evacuation and rescue have still not kicked in due to bad weather. The choppers are grounded for the moment.
Temperatures have plummeted to -50 Celsius at 7000meters and the trio was last seen by Alex Txikon at 7,700meters heading for the summit four days ago.
The successful Polish team who clinched the peak on March 9, for the first winter ascent of the G-1, are now helping with the SAR operations. Darek Zaluski and Agnieszka Bielecka who remained in the Base Camp during their summit bid, attempted to reach Camp-1 on the normal route on the north, in a bid to spot any signs of life but were forced to abandoned as another raging storm blocked their path.
The Poles reported: “Agna and Darek are back in BC. They were forced down by low visibility and high wind after covering only 1/4 of the way”.
The rescue teams as well as the friends and families of the climbers are now leaning on a miracle which could save the lives of the three climbers. There is a possibility that the team may have bivouacked at some place underneath an ice cave and are waiting for the rescue teams to spot them.
The prevailing weather conditions however, have thwarted any rescue attempts so far. What has been particularly alarming is the fact that none of the three-member team has tried to contact the Base Camp through radio or SAT-Phone, triggering a suspicion that all is lost. Goschl and his team members were pitched to scale the mountain from a new route on the south and were hoping to climb down from the north, pulling in an unprecedented first Winter Ascent and Traverse of the 8000er.
Their approach has made it all the more difficult as the rescue teams are now unaware of their location and the path they might have followed.
Gerfried, Hussain, Hahlen still missing on Gasherbrum-1 after 36 hours as the Search and Rescue Operations continue
It has been more than 36 hours and there has been no sign of the International Team members Gerfried Goschl, Nisar Hussain and Cedric Hahlen who set out to summit the Gasherbrum-1 some three days ago. Search and Rescue (SAR) operations are now reinforced by the Pakistan Millitary Choppers accompanied by three renowned Pakistani climbers, Hassan Sadpara (Mount Everest Summiteer), Ali Raza Sadpara and Nazir Sadpara who will aid the other rescue climbers.
For the moment, however, the flights have been grounded for an unknown period of time as the mighty Karakorum is bracing another fierce storm.
Goschl and his teamates started off their second summit push some three days ago, following a new route on the south side of the 8.068 meters peak. Gerfried had already seen the route and has been on top of the mountain in the summers and is apparently well aware of the directions on G-1. Hussain, on the other hand, has climbed the peak several times and knows the route like the back of his hand.
There is still hope that the climbers might have bivouaced somewhere and are waiting for a rescue mission. In case alive. The team must be facing severe frostbite and Hypothermia at the moment.
"The skies were clear early in the morning today, when we asked for the choppers," Alex said over sat phone. "I am concerned now, since it's already noon and the clouds are piling up again."
Meanwhile, Polish team is less concerned with all the praise which has been pouirng in from all over the world over their historic feat of conquering the G-1 for the first time in winters. They are with the International team in the Base Camp on the south side and helping in whatever way they can to support the SAR operations.
"We are met in BC, managing the current emergency situation," Polish team leader Artur Hajzer said on Sat-Phone yesterday. "There is not much we can do now, though, due to very bad weather. We don't even know on which side of the mountain they may be," Artur added.
The trio were last seen some 300metres short of the peak by one of the Polish climbers some three days ago. there has been no report of any of the team members since then.
Perseverance has finally paid off.
Poles have clinched yet another winter summit,
battling the gruesome Karakorum and have emerged the conquerors of the latest 8000er, Gasherbrum-1 in Pakistan.
On 9th March 2012, approximately at 8:30 AM local time, Adam Bielecki and Janusz Gołąb reached the top of the 8,080m peak, pulling another feather in the already blistering cap of the Polish mountaineers.
The team has been wrestling to reach the top through the Japanese Couloirs but suffered consecutive setbacks as the fierce winds and raging storms prevented the Polish team to pitch a summit push. Their previous attempt a week ago was thwarted by the dreaded peak and the climbers barely managed to reach the Base Camp amid dangerous conditions.
They waited for another week before the winds finally dropped to allow them another push for the summit.
Agnieszka Bielecka, the Base Camp leader reported:
“A four-person expedition of Polish Mountaineering Association initiated by President of the Sport Commission, Ireneusz Raś MP, and under the honorary patronage of Bronisław Komorowski, President of the Republic of Poland, has achieved a historical success in Karakoram. The ascent was made via the so-called Japanese route from the North-West side. The conquerors made their ascent of the mountain without oxygen. The expedition established the base camp on 21st January 2012 and the summit was reached on the 49th day counting from the beginning of operations. The winter ascent of an eight-thousander in Karakoram is second in the history. Artur Hajzer led the expedition, whereas Agnieszka Bielecka, an alpinist, was the leader of the base camp. Moreover, two Pakistani climbers (Ali Sadpara and Shaheen Baig) supported the expedition. The expedition is co-financed by resources of the Ministry of Sport and PKN Orlen”.
Meanwhile, International team led by Gerfried
Goschl, who were pitched in an attempt to reach the peak via a new route from the south side, are still on their way to the top and if they are able to scale the summit, this would be considered a joint first ascent by both teams as agreed earlier.
Gasherbrum-1, one of the five 8000ers in Pakistan is the second 8000er which has been successfully scaled in winters. The first one, Gasherbrum-2 was scaled in winters last year by the legendary Simone Moro who led the three-member team comprising of Dennis Urubko and Cory Richards.
Three remaining 8000ers, namely K-2, Nanga Parbat and Broad Peak are yet to be conquered for the first time in winters.
pakistan-explorer would like to extend heartiest congratulations to the Polish team on their historical success.
Gerfried Goschl and the International team vows to take down Gasherbrum-1 next week for the first winter ascent
Both teams are recuperating from the horrendous summit push that left them exhausted and stricken and are now bracing themselves for another daring attempt on the 8,080m Gasherbrum-1 for the first winter ascent.
Poles led by renowned Artur Hajzer on the north face and the International team led by Gerfried Goschl, locked up on the south, are hoping to utilise the next weather window, likely to be encountered after March 4.
Meteorologist Karl Gable in Austria has warned of another deadly storm brewing on this weekend and both teams have decided to stay put for the moment.
Goschl and his team, pitched in an attempt to scale the peak from a new route and also accomplish first winter ascent and traverse, is brimming with confidence and is hoping that their charted new route will be a blistering success.
“I sit here with mixed feelings here in BC.” a dejected Goschl texted. “I am disappointed that we could not ascend further, that I cannot even go back now to my family, my girls. But on the other hand, I'm glad that everyone is safely back at base camp, the wall after 38 days and 8 ascents (alone this winter) finally climb through that route to the summit is open, that I with Cedric and Nisar I have two congenial, very social and extremely strong partner at my side, that the chance of our lives on a large project to complete”.
Goschl along with his fellow Pakistani and Spanish climbers will make another attempt to scale the mighty 8000er for the first winter ascent in the coming week. This will be the last of the winter attempts for any of the teams on G-1 as both teams have already exhausted designated time to scale a 8000er in winters. Their motivation, however, remains unbroken.
“Here we are now focusing all her for the next storm front, which again on 4 and 5 March will take over our camp.” Goschl further added. “But who knows, maybe does already in connection to a weather window! Maybe we are the mountains and the weather finally have a real chance for a summit ascent! Our motivation remains unbroken!”