When only 13, Shehroze Kashif had set himself a dare to “summit Everest and K2 at all costs”. It took Kashif, now 19, just six years to accomplish the feat of scaling the two topmost peaks of the world — and that too while smashing records. When Kashif scaled Mount Everest about two months back, he became the youngest Pakistani to summit the world’s tallest mountain. And last Tuesday, the young man from Lahore became the youngest person in the world to reach the summit of K2, the world’s second-highest peak, with the aid of bottled oxygen. Accomplishing the twin feat while still in his teen shows the determination and commitment as well as the passion the superhero has displayed, doing the whole nation proud.
Including K2, Pakistan hosts five of the 14 mountains which are higher than 8,000 metres and thus called eight-thousanders. It is the lure of such peaks that Pakistan continues to produce talented and dedicated climbers. Among the most well-known of them are Nazir Sabir as well as the late Mohammad Ali Sadpara and his son Sajid Ali Sadpara. The last mentioned held the record of being the youngest person in the world to scale K2 at the age of 20 using supplementary oxygen before he was dethroned from the position this week by teenaged Kashif.
However, most of these daring summiteers have not been acknowledged the way they deserve. Some of them have even lost their lives in pursuit of their passion to excel and do the nation proud. The painful memory of the unfortunate death of legendary Mohammad Ali Sadpara — who went missing on K2 in February this year — has revived, with his body found during an expedition this past Wednesday. It’s time for the government to realise its duty to improve the situation for mountaineering and to pay attention to the plight of these real heros whose passion has led to the Pakistani flag being hoisted on the world’s summits.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2021.
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