Such great heights

Published: June 26, 2011
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“I am surprised to see that when the defeated cricket team returns home, they are greeted by ministers and other senior government officials. However, when I returned after conquering the world’s highest peak and planting our national flag on top of Mount Everest, I hardly felt welcomed,” says Hassan Sadpara, the second Pakistani to scale Mount Everest.

Despite his astonishing feats in mountain-climbing, Hassan Sadpara has had to ask the government for financial assistance several times to make his expeditions possible. The 48-year-old mountaineer is the only person in Pakistan to have climbed some of the world’s highest peaks without supplemental oxygen. To put things into perspective, this means having to climb to altitudes where oxygen levels are less than half of those at sea level.

Sadpara is the first Pakistani to have climbed K2, Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak and Mount Everest. He is now determined to include his name in the Guinness Book of World Records by scaling all of the world’s 14 highest peaks. “I have enough talent and skill to accomplish this within a short span of time,” he says, adding that he hopes that he can bag the award before any other mountaineer does. However, he is sceptical about getting the money he needs. On the bright side though, Sadpara did get the monetary assistance he required in his pursuit to scale the ‘Goddess of the Sky’. “The day I planted my country’s flag on the world’s highest peak was the most significant day of my life,” he says.

Sadpara began as a mere porter who tagged along with foreign expeditions and trekking teams. Inspired by his father, he gradually started summiting the peaks of Gilgit-Baltistan one after another. Before he knew it, Hassan had reached newer heights. In the summer of 2009, Sadpara decided to pay a visit to the Himalayas. After a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari, in which Sadpara expressed the hope of getting financial assistance from the government, the president directed his request to the Alpine Club. Following a wait of nine months, Sadpara was sent off to Nepal, home of Mount Everest. He left along with his four-member team, which comprised his younger brother Muhammad Sadiq, but since the expedition cost $10,500 each, the rest of the team members had to be sent off for trekking at the base camp instead.

Hassan continued his ascent along with a group of Nepalese mountaineers on the world’s highest peak. Finally, on May 12, 2011, the Pakistani flag was hoisted on Mount Everest for the second time. After Nazir Sabir, president of the Alpine Club Pakistan, Hassan Sadpara became the second Pakistani ever to conquer Everest.

But the extreme terrain of the Himalayas has not been the most challenging obstacle in the mountaineer’s life, who struggles to make ends meet. “I don’t have enough money to even serve a cup of tea to the guests who come to congratulate me,” he says. His children have often asked him to give up his expeditions since the abject poverty in which he lives leaves little room for family expenditures and he is unable to feed or educate them. Inspired by his father, Sadpara took a risk in pursuing mountaineering but does not feel duly repaid. “I represented Pakistan in Nepal and hoisted the nation’s flag on top of the world’s highest peak. There should at least have been a federal representative at the airport to receive me,” he says.

Since his return, there has been one instance of acknowledgement from the government: Hassan Sadpara has been appointed an instructor in the police force by the Gilgit-Baltistan government. A senior police official says that it would be an honour to be trained by a man of such resilience. Sadpara, who had hoped for funding to scale the world’s highest peaks, is disappointed but promises to try his best to live up to the expectations that people have of him. “I am as empty-handed as I was before, but something’s better than nothing,” he says.

Mountaineering is one of the most challenging sports in the world, requiring the adventurer to risk his/her life but it does not get the same respect — and funding — as other sports in the country, despite the fact that Pakistan has immense potential for mountain-climbing. “Pakistan has 50 peaks above the height of 7,000m — that makes it a great tourist attraction. The government should develop infrastructure to attract foreign tourists,” says Sadpara who feels that economic and security conditions deprive this industry of the attention it deserves. As a mountaineer Sadpara wishes to revive the tourism and adventure industry. “I am ready to establish a Mountaineering Training Institute in Skardu to train the youth if the government is ready to support it. This would be helpful in training local talent, and foreigners would also be interested in attending such training institutes. It could ultimately be a good source of foreign exchange,” he says.

Currently, there are hardly 20 countries that have their flags planted on the roof of the world and it is because of mountaineers like Nazir Sabir and Hassan Sadpara that Pakistan is one of them.

Eight-Thousanders: The world’s highest peaks (mountain, ranges, country, height)

1.     Mount Everest, Himalayas Nepal/Tibet (8,850m)

2.     K2, Karakoram, Pakistan/China (8,611m)

3.     Kangchenjunga, Himalayas, Nepal/India (8,586m)

4.     Lhotse, Himalayas, Nepal/Tibet (8,516m)

5.     Makalu, Himalayas, Nepal/Tibet (8,462m)

6.     Cho Oyu, Himalayas, Nepal/Tibet (8,201m)

7.     Dhaulagiri, Himalayas. Nepal (8,167m)

8.     Manaslu, Himalayas, Nepal (8,163m)

9.     Nanga Parbat, Himalayas, Pakistan (8,125m)

10.  Annapurna, Himalayas, Nepal (8,091m)

11.  Gasherbrum I, Karakoram, Pakistan/China (8,068m)

12.  Broad Peak, Karakoram, Pakistan/China (8,047m)

13.  Gasherbrum II, Karakoram, Pakistan/China (8,035m)

14.  Shisha Pangma, Himalayas, Tibet, (8,013 m)

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, June 26th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Masood
    Jun 26, 2011 - 3:46PM

    I salute to this person… love u man .. proud to be pakistani.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Jun 26, 2011 - 7:45PM

    This man deserves the highest praise and atleast a medal from the President of Pakistan. His moutaineering feats are truly outstanding and a source of inspiration to all of us Pakistanis. He makes us all feel proud. Can people in the private sector not pass the hat around and raise enough cash for him to scale new heights? Surely if the Alpine Club cannot fund him there must be others who would?

    Sadpara has shown that with will power, determination and national spirit, we can achieve anything. Pakistan Zindabad.Recommend

  • Umar Aman
    Jun 26, 2011 - 7:48PM

    We all salute u nd luv u sir!!!Recommend

  • Pradeep
    Jun 26, 2011 - 10:20PM

    Well Done Mr. Hassan.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Jun 26, 2011 - 10:30PM

    Somebody should help this man set up a website and raise funding. What he needs is a reputable firm and/or individual to back him so that whoever does donate funds is rest assured that the money will get to him and help his mountaineering activities- and win Pakistan more laurels.

    His Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Hasan-sadpara/129252847152161Recommend

  • abrar
    Jun 26, 2011 - 10:37PM

    Hassan Sadpara should be a household name in his country. Tear down the posters of the politicians and cricketers to replace them with the real heroes.

    These are the examples that motivates the youth of the nation..Recommend

  • OZ
    Jun 27, 2011 - 12:07AM

    i agree with you adnan. we should give him a full support in all mean possible.
    he was a HERO of our country and we all proud of him..Recommend

  • ijaz Mir
    Jun 27, 2011 - 1:44AM

    Sadpara is a high altitude porter, He is not a sport man. He is paid to carry the equipment for the mountain climbers. He does for his living not for the Glory of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Someone
    Jun 27, 2011 - 5:14AM

    Instead of obsessing over match-fixing, corrupt, behaviour-problematic, scandalous cricketers, we should pay tribute to our real heroes like Sadpara who have actually achieved something.

    Give me one thing that Pakistan cricket team has achieved in the last one year, apart from losing the semi-final (thanks to Misbah who always does something stupid in an Indo-Pak match), Afridi losing his cool or Butt, Amir and Asif showing their true colours?

    Now compare that with this guy who climbed the world’s tallest mountain to make the country proud, clearly risking his life? Recommend

  • Tasawar-ul-Karim Baig
    Jun 27, 2011 - 7:00AM

    Ijaz, We should appreciate the cause not the way it was done. But, please make your record stright before writing in public place, he was sponsored by the government of Pakistan to do so. He went to climb the highest peak, not to carrying anyones luggage. Let say, if so than, what is harm in it, Did he steal or rob from someone. When the entire country in despondency and fear, he bring hope and happiness to the nation, which anyone, in the world can proud for. Can you name a single person who do things for the glory. It is very easy to crtisize, but, it should be constructive rather than for the sake of point scoring.

    We all Pakistanis including Gilgit-Baltistan proud of Hasan Sadpara for his hero act.Recommend

  • God Father
    Jun 27, 2011 - 9:14AM

    Ijaz: is if all our cricketing heroes play for the Glory of Pakistan!!! all of them play to fill in their pockets if i am not wrong…your so called true patriot agreed to pay Rs 4.5 million just to get NOC for playing foreign league..so stop bashing & if you can’t support or acknowledge someone’s efforts don’t criticize.Recommend

  • Naveed
    Jun 27, 2011 - 10:26AM

    @ijaz
    dnt be naive!Recommend

  • ObjectionMyLord!
    Jun 27, 2011 - 12:13PM

    Proud of your achievements, Mr. Sadapara
    I totally understand and feel for you how our countries and those in power only admire and appreciate the efforts of the well-connected or those who lick asses’ at their best. This fabulous lick-jobs are their key to being accepted and celebrated in society and news. Sadly, the lickers get ALL that a hard worker badly needs.Recommend

  • Sher Ghazi
    Jun 27, 2011 - 1:26PM

    You are from Gilgit-baltistan if you are some where from Punjab,Sindh,KPK and Balochistan then Pakistani Govt will announced you high medals but we dont have a right to gain reward from this Pakistan.Recommend

  • AK
    Jun 27, 2011 - 4:48PM

    @Sher Ghazi….come of it man. As if we havent had enough of this provincial nonsense. Why do you think the govt. of Pakistan would discriminate against someone from Gilgit Baltistan? Your claim is nonsense.Recommend

  • Noor
    Jun 28, 2011 - 3:12PM

    @admin: plz remove Ijaz’s post.
    If Hasan did it as a porter, he deserves even more encouragement as he climbed with double the load, and also because he didn’t have the facilities available with proffessional mountaineers.

    Hats off to Hasan Sadpara; I’ve been at Skardu for a year, and wish to be there again to meet this great man.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Jun 28, 2011 - 11:35PM

    @ijaz Mir:

    This makes his achievement all the more admirable!

    I think paying him is much better value for the Pakistani tax-payer than wasting money on our over-paid, over-hyped cricketers who have brought nothing but shame and disrepute to Pakistan. Hasan Sadpara has shown what can be achieved with determination, skill and patriotic fervourand with limited resources. If we could all, in some way, follow his example, Pakistan could become a truly great country! Hasan Sadpara, you are an inspiration to us all, Pakistan Zindabad!Recommend

  • samad
    Jul 1, 2011 - 10:20AM

    Ijaz,
    Every one in life works to become a bread earner for his family , even you work as a employee or a emplyer to earn money but still your company awards you for your work. All the cricketers are heavily paid, and if they are not performing then they should be punished. Now all sports are played as a profession, no one just play for glory. If you think i am wrong then ask any of the current cricketers to play for free then you will find no one will be there for even cricket , nation and glory is still far flunged.Recommend

  • Haider Hussain
    Jul 1, 2011 - 1:32PM

    We are all proud of you Hasan. I ALSO REQUEST ET TO SEND HASAN OUR REGARDSRecommend

  • malik
    Jul 3, 2011 - 10:56PM

    Tibet is not a country, China is. And Tibet is part of China.

    By mentioning Tibet separately, you are annoying our friend China.Recommend

  • Ijaz Mir
    Jul 4, 2011 - 5:54AM

    I have simple answer to comments of my friends. High altitude poter is a honourable job,climbing ability is the result of a genetic adaptation to living in high altitudes. Every person can not do this job.Honour goes to two Pakistani. ASHRAF AMAN first Pakistani to ascent k2 and NAZIR Sabir First Pakistani to ascent Mount Everest. These two persons are in the honours list.
    There is one Nepali HAP who has record to ascent Everest 21 time,another one has 3 times,but they are not in the honours list.In these days A blind person can ascent Everest.
    Mountaineering or the sport of climbing mountains is simply one of the finest Hobby or sport Which is all about challenge,Danger like altitude sickness,frost bite losing fingers and toes. Avalanches ,Rewards personal pleasure and achievement.
    you can not compare Mountain climbing to Cricket. This is a sport which represent country, Players are selected to represent a country,Global exposure Television rights generates million of dollars.Reward for the players
    Mountain Climbing is a individual support. Pakistan and Nepali trips are organized by the clubs of different countries you buy a place in expedition , buy your own kit, your own food, Club organise the trip. reward is your personal achievement.Recommend

  • Ibrahim.S.Husain
    Jul 5, 2011 - 4:32AM

    Shame on the government for not giving this man full financial assistance , the president and prime minister have money to go and stay at $50000 a night hotels when on foreign trips but they can’t pay this man and his team the mere amount of money that they require to accomplish something so great .this really frustrates me as a Pakistani , other countries would go to so many new dimensions if they had a man like sadpara , they would give him financial assistance and much more , but not our government they are too busy in keeping the money for themselves . Pakistan zindabad ! long live corruption, greed and ungratefulness .I feel sorry for sadpara that he had to be born in this country with such a government , but I admire that even after all he has been through he still wants to host the pakistani flag on various mountain peaks . Recommend

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