“Concordia Rescue Team” training course concludes churning out 11 highly trained rescuers for the rugged Karakorum
Concordia Rescue Team training course concluded on Thursday, October the 18th, where a dozen mountaineers, High Altitude Porters and Rescue personals were imparted training in altitude rescue in Skardu.
The venture was initiated by the joint collaboration of EvK2Cnr and the Karakorum International University and was held from October the 8th to 18th. The course was designed by the Alpine Club of Pakistan ACP and was funded and executed under the auspices of SEED (Social, Economic and Environmental Development Program) by the Italian Government.
Renowned Italian Alpine guides were flown in to impart training to some of the better known trainers and teachers in the local mountaineering schools in Pakistan. Michele Cucchi and Maurizio Gallo conducted the course, inculcating the modern techniques of Crevasse Rescue, Uphill, Downhill, Mountaineering skills, and other safety procedure.
Rescue, evaluation and communication of emergency were also essential parts of the training program.
The closing ceremony was presided by the Minister of Development of the region of Gilgit-Baltistan Raja Azam Khan, Akbar Tawan, head of the Pakistan Muslim League, alpinist and Amjad Ali Hassan Sadpara , representing the Karakorum International University. The guests lauded the contribution EvK2Cnr has made to the local community, empowering the people and uplifting the living standards in the region for over a span of 20 years.
The 11 mountaineers and High Altitude Rescue personals who attended the training includedRozi Ali, Ghulam Nabi, Hassan Ali Rustam and Mahamad for EvK2Cnr, Aziz Khan Khan Shambi for Samshal Mountain Guides, Shaber Ghulam Raza Bagrote, student of the FAC, Muhammad Ahmed Khan for Balti yul mountain school. Then again Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Hussain, Ghulam Abbas Mohmmad for Emergency Rescue Service (1122) to Skardu, Ibrahim Khalil Ahmed for KCP, Kazim Ali Shar Sadpara for the ACP and Muhammad Shafi, Muhammad Shafa for Sumayar.
ACP along with the coordination of EvK2Cnr has conducted several successful expeditions to collect the human waste and garbage from the Concordia and Baltoro region. This year alone, the “Keep Baltoro Clean” expedition collected no less than eight tons of waste from one of the longest glaciers on earth and brought it down to Skardu.
The collaboration has worked well over the past few years, collecting a colossal 40 tons of waste in all this time.
Also read: http://www.pakistan-explorer.com/3/post/2012/10/keep-baltoro-clean-expedition-collects-eight-tons-of-waste-from-karakorum-with-the-help-from-italian-high-commission.html
Greg Mortenson has a word for Malala Yousafzai: The 14-year-old victim of ruthless militancy in Swat, Pakistan
When a 14-year-old girl was shot in the head for claiming her birth right of acquiring education and standing against oppression, the gory incident was surely to hit Greg Mortenson like a Sky bolt who has now spent a good two decades of his life educating the young girls of the Central Asia.
Malala Yousafzai, a school girl from the restive Swat region, made the headlines some two years ago for having the courage to go to school in the midst of all the bombing and bloodshed in her otherwise picturesque town. She challenged the militants and the religious fanatics and shrugged off all threats to continue her education thereby inviting the wrath of the outlaw fanatics.
On October 9th, 2012, while on her way back from school, the school van was stopped by a handful of militants and they called out her name to shoot the poor girl in the head and injuring several others. Malala was severally wounded and is still fighting her battle for life.
“Our prayers are with Malala and her family,” Central Asia Institute co-founder Greg Mortenson said Sunday in a phone interview from Tajikistan. “Her story is heartbreaking. But it’s important to remember that Malala is just one of many. Scores of students and teachers risk their lives every day in support of girls’ education in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
Now being an active social reformer in the region, Mortenson knows the intricacies of the region, the cultural bindings and the religious complications all of which blend in to form a difficult social setup to penetrate within.
He is probably the most informed reformer who has managed to construct hundreds of schools and imparting education to thousands of girls and boys stretching from Badakhshan in Afghanistan to Turkmenistan and Baltistan in Pakistan.
“There are so many stories,” Mortenson said. “Girls attending classes are gassed and poisoned. Girls are attacked on their way to and from school. In Pakistan, militants destroyed 440 schools, including 130 all-girls’ schools, last year. In Afghanistan, several dozen teachers have been murdered for teaching at girls’ schools, including a teacher at the CAI school in Saw, in Kunar Province (Afghanistan), this past summer.”
Greg Mortenson and CAI have worked with communities in the mountainous, remote, and often war-wracked areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan since 1996 to establish over 300 educational and community support initiatives, including literacy centers, school buildings, vocational centers, scholarship programs, and public health (potable water, midwifery, and disaster-relief) initiatives.
Being the Co-Founder and caretaker of the CAI, Mortenson carries out whirlwind tours around the world and in the US to collect funds for his organization, giving out lectures narrating his own story.
CAI and Mortenson were recently acquitted in a lawsuit which claimed that Mortenson has usurped the donations amounting to millions of dollars. The court rejected the accusations and relieved the CAI from an 18-month-long gruesome battle of integrity.
“If you really want to know about the authentic Buddhism, go to Pakistan”, tells the Thai “Salesmonk”
Organised under the auspices of the Thai Foreign Office and the Consulate General of Pakistan on October 10th, 2012-the celebration for the six decades of Pakistan-Thailand diplomatic relations, the Venerable Dr. Anil Sakaya turned out to be one of the fiery speakers in the event, lauding the services Pakistan has rendered in the restoration and caretaking of the ancient Buddhist sights in the country.
A celebrated businessman in Thailand, Dr. Anil calls himself a “Salesmonk” rather than a salesman and considers it his moral and religious obligation to promote Buddhism and ancient Buddhist cites all over the world. The event was attended by some 100 renowned businessmen from both countries and marked the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Thai King and Queen’s first visit to Pakistan.
“We never hear good news about Pakistan. The perception of Thai people is always shaded by violence which is taking place from time to time. But if you look at it from a bigger perspective, it is nothing alien to us. Violence is everywhere, even here in Thailand. We are a peaceful country but look at the news every day. Even the traffic can kill you.”
An active member of the Pakistan-Thailand Business consortium, Dr. Anil was invited by the Government of Pakistan to visit the Buddhist monasteries and stupas in the country and present to the world the priceless treasure the country holds in her lap.
The accomplished businessman insisted that Pakistan and Thailand are only separated by distance and in reality both countries and their people have been in close contact since antiquity. He highlighted the sights often considered as the seats of learning in Buddhism, the Kambuja and Gandhara which is now known as Taksila.
While he lamented the loss of the giant Buddha statues of Bamayan in Afghanistan in 2001, he also accepted the fact that the event actually attracted the attention of Buddhists from all over the world, who were oblivious of rich historical assets both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He out rightly rejected the claim that Buddhism is actually a modernised form of Idol Worshipping.
He said, “Sometimes our Muslim friends have a wrong image. They say we are idol worshippers. It is true that in Thailand, we have more Buddhist images than any other place in the world. But who gave us this culture? The whole idea of icon worship all came from Pakistan. Now they have changed but we have already taken the legacy from them. If you really want to know about the authentic Buddhism, go to Pakistan. We are lucky (these Buddhist spots) are not in Afghanistan. They would be gone. We are indebted to Pakistan for maintaining those places.”
DR. Anil lauded the various measures taken by the Pakistani Government to protect and restore the ancient cites in the country but expressed his concerns about the deteriorating security situation in the country.
“I am not a salesman but a Salesmonk for Pakistan tourism. As a Salesmonk, this is a place for many Buddhists, art-lovers and lovers of civilization. This is a place where they have kept things at a pristine level. I am worried that if something changes, what will happen. How things have changed in Afghanistan. They destroyed everything and all the antiquities. I don’t want to see that happen in Pakistan.” He added.
Thanking Anil for his remarks, Ambassador Mahmood said that on 10 Oct 2012, the day marking the 60th anniversary of Thai-Pakistan relations, the Pakistan government will be presenting a replica of one of the most famous Buddha images in the Lahore Museum, The Fasting Buddha, to the people of Thailand.
The image will be placed for permanent public display at a yet to be determined spot in Thailand.
“Keep Baltoro Clean” Expedition collects eight tons of waste from Karakorum with the help from Italian High Commission
Churning out phenomenal results, the “Keep Baltoro Clean” organized by the EvK2cnr Committee and Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP), the expedition was able to collect no less than 8000kgs of waste left over by this year’s climbing expeditions.
Emphasizing on a “Clean Baltoro”, this year, the Committee concentrated their efforts on one of the largest glaciers on earth, piling up 240 bags of 25kg each, amounting to almost 8 Metric Tons of waste this year alone.
Most of the waste was collected from Concordia to Ashkole. The trekking and climbing expeditions enroute to Concordia, camp at about five designated spots on the trek, leaving piles of garbage and human waste. The climbing expeditions, which camp for months in the rugged region, transport huge loads of supplies to sustain their stay in the extreme cold weather.
The first results of the expedition were presented few days ago in a ceremony attended by the ACP officials, Chairman EvK2cnr Committee Agostino Da Polenza, technical manager of the Karakorum Trust and His Excellency, the Italian Ambassador Vincenzo Prati.
"We have collected about 8 tons of waste” - says Maurizio Gallo, Karakorum Trust technical manager. “Six of these have already been brought to the “eco-island” we created near the Ashkole village. Two tons of waste has already been burned by Earth, the ecological incinerator we have built and installed there with the support of the Italian company Actelios (Falck Group). Since now, the incinerator has worked well for 4 hours per day".
The garbage collected comprised of empty cans, fuel stoves, wind-torn tents, left over toilet tents, pieces of backpacks, broken climbing equipment, clothes, shoes and other rubbish.
The cleaning of the glacier is coordinated by a Pakistani team of ecological workers that trains the porters of the expeditions visiting the area and gives information to the people. This team has headquarters at the Concordia Circus, 4700 meters.
Ambassador Prati lauded the efforts of the Karakorum Trust which has delivered exceptional service to the region, providing the much-needed ecological balance altered by the climbing and trekking expeditions from all over the world.
The Ambassador also disclosed the curtain-raising of yet another project SEED (Social, Economic and Environmental Development in the Cknp and buffer zones - Northern Areas, Pakistan). This project, promoted by EvK2Cnr in collaboration with the Karakorum International University, was born as a result of the "debt conversion agreement" just signed by Italy and Pakistan, which allocates funds for development initiatives and against poverty.
"Our six ecological operators are working very well” – Gallo added. “They are carrying out an effective information campaign to the cooks and the porters of the expeditions, teaching them how to collect waste for recycling and how to bring them to Askole. Earth can burn plastic and non-recyclable materials in Pakistan. The other waste, such cans, glass and toxic materials or batteries, are brought to Skardu”.
The project until today has gathered a colossal 40 tons of waste, have installed total of 11 toilets in the area, imparted training to 75 High Altitude Porters and specialized rescue training to 200 trekking guides.
Pakistani climber claims the first local ascent of the Malika Parbat North Face, Alpine Club declines to accept the same
Ahmed, Mujtaba, one of the sturdy Pakistani climbers, successfully summitted the North Peak of Malika Parbat, the Queen of the Kaghan Valley, marking the first Pakistani ascent of the same from the North.
The Alpine Club of Pakistan, however, is not ready to consider it as the first Pakistani ascent as the official website has stayed away from accepting the claim.
36-year-old Mujtaba, who has attempted to scale the 5,235m peak twice before in 2009 and 2011, finally made it to the top on August 31st, 2012 leading a four-member expedition. The expedition comprised Ahmad Mujtaba, Ahmad Naveed, Kamal Haider and Saqib Ali.
The Executive Member for the ACP, Karrar Haideri argued that the climbers did not apprise the ACP before their ascent so their claim cannot be confirmed by any third party.
He said, “There is no information of mountaineers conquering the Malika Parbat. Since the mountaineers did not give any briefing of the mission before the ACP like all expeditions do before and after climbing, we cannot confirm their success”.
This not only speaks about the inefficiency and incapability of the ACP which has not been able to make it mandatory for all climbers to brief the club about their contemplated attempt but also shows negligence on part of Mujtaba and his team who should have apprised the club beforehand.
Malika Parbat, is one of the highest mountain of the Kaghan Valley and marks the culmination of the high rising flanks of the western off-shoot of Himalayas. The mountain is hailed as one of the most difficult 5000er carrying dangerous crevasse regions and sheer vertical ascents on all sides. The mountain rises from the legendary Lake Saif-ul Malook, adding to it the splendour that can hardly be compared with any peak in the world.
The climbers pitched their Base Camp at 4000metres and established Camp-1 at 4600m on August 29th. Using the Front-Pointing Technique, the team roped their way up negotiating dangerous crevasses and steep icy slopes.
The team ascended the summit at 7:12 am on 31st August and spent 45 minutes on the summit to view and photograph the scenic lower Himalayan Naran Mountains, spotting Nanga Parbat in the distant.
“You have to reach the top before 11am in the morning before cloud covers the peak, completely blinding the climbers or after 3pm when the skies open up,” said Ahmed Mujtaba explaining some of the challenges to the summit.
“The day was crystal clear. We spent about 50 minutes taking pictures and making video recordings”.
British climber Norman Noris first acsended the North Peak in the year 1967.
Polish climbing guru Artur Hajzer has out rightly rejected the recent International Seven Summit Treks K-2 Expedition 2012 led by the commercial outfitter Seven Summits which successfully placed no fewer than 23 mountaineers on top of the second highest and one of the deadliest mountains on earth.
Hajzer, one of the pioneers of Polish Winter Mountaineering, is one of the most respected names in the mountaineering circles in the world and has two winter 8000ers on his belt. His remarks came out soon after the record-breaking success of the 23 assorted mountaineers from all over the world who climbed the 8616m K-2 with the help of supplementary oxygen, something, Hajzer did not approve off.
“I'm afraid so. I respect Mingma Sherpa (Seven Summit Treks) and other commercial outfitters but they should explain to their customers that climbing with supplementary oxygen is something very different than to climb without it. It's becoming increasingly common for guided clients to start using oxygen at 6000 meters of altitude, without any form of acclimatization” Hajzer was talking to the Explorersweb.
The recent success on K-2 marks the biggest mass attempt of the peak which came out successful. The 28-member expedition aspired to reach the summit and some 23 of them made it to the top in the early hours of July 31st. The expedition comprised of 16 Nepalese, three Chinese, one Spanish, one Singaporean, one French, one Turk and one South Korean.
Hajzer further added, “Use of oxygen relatively decreases the mountain's altitude by about 1500 meters. All I can say is that it's possible to climb K2 safely without oxygen but it will require the proper acclimatization involving time and strength. Use of oxygen is a shortcut that's against the very meaning of climbing. People who wished to touch the legend of 8000 meters and did so with supplemental oxygen have no idea what climbing is really about”
Hajzer was among the pioneer Polish mountaineers who started off the Winter Mountaineering and successfully summitted the deadly Annapurna along with countryman and Climbing legend Jerzy Kukcuzka in the year 1987.
He disappeared in oblivion for some time and returned to reclaim the throne with style. He successfully summitted the Gasherbrum-1 in the Pakistani Karakorum in the winters, marking the return of trailblazing Polish Winter Alpinism.
Last week concluded Prime Minister Pervez Ashraf’s recent visit to the newly promulgated Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly where he addressed the joint session of the Lower and Upper House, announcing a generous two billion aid for development projects.
Premier Ashraf then flew to Hunza to inaugurate the new 25-kilometre road linking Gojal Valley with the rest of the country. He also inaugurated the Khunjerab to Raikote portion of the Karakoram Highway, which was expanded and upgraded by China.
The lake formed by a massive landslide on January 4, 2010, killed 25 people, inundated several villages upstream the Hunza River and displaced thousands. The lake formed by the landslide continuously expanded till the end of 2010 when the authorities finally came up with ideas of blasting spillways to discharge the artificially formed lake.
Attabad Lake, now commonly known as Gojal Lake, is located nine miles upstream of Karimabad, the working capital of Hunza Valley and has now a total stretch of 23 kms in length. The lake also engulfed a major portion of the Karakorum Highway, swallowing almost 12kms of the stretch. This not only broke the road link of the northern part from the rest of the country but also severely affected the trade and transportation which plied on the legendary Silk Route.
Currently, the government has not come up with any foreseeable solution of the problem. Ferries transport goods and vehicles from one part of the damaged KKH to the other, charging a whooping 18,000 PKR for a car, for one way. This is not only expansive for the travelers and tourists but continues to be a constant hitch for the trade between Pakistan and China.
The premier also had an aerial tour of the 23-kilometre-long Attabad Lake. He investigated the security efforts beefed up for the protection of travelers and commuters on the KKH after last month’s incidents of sectarian violence in the region.