A group of Romanian mountaineers scaled Nanga Parbat on Friday, becoming the first expedition to achieve the feat after last month’s massacre at the foot of Pakistan’s second tallest peak.
Ten foreign trekkers and their Pakistani guide were mowed to death by gunmen in paramilitary fatigue at a base camp of Nanga Parbat, in Gilgit-Baltistan on June 23 in an attack claimed by both the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Jundullah sectarian extremist group.
“We learnt around Friday noon that three of them [mountaineers] had reached the summit while another two were about to scale it,” said Muhammad Ali, the expedition organiser.
The ascent of the 8,126-metre-high Nanga Parbat – known as the ‘Killer Mountain’ – came nearly a month after the June 23 massacre which has already resulted in the cancellation of nearly 30 foreign expeditions.
The Romanian team was near the peak when the June 23 tragedy struck. However, the climbers decided against cancelling the expedition despite pressure from the country’s embassy in Islamabad.
“It was a tough moment to make a decision … but we did it with the support from the Gilgit-Baltistan home department and the Alpine Club,” said Ali, who runs a travel company, the Karakoram Magic Mountains.
He added that the Romanian Embassy wanted the team to return, while the climbers were also had security concerns. “We are extremely thankful to the government of Pakistan and all others for their support that made this feat possible.”
Zsolt Torok, the Romanian citizen who also climbed K-2 in 2010, was leading the five-member Romanian team of climbers. The expedition had set out on June 6 from Islamabad to G-B to try their luck.
Ali said that the climbers would descend in two or three days to make their journey back to Islamabad. “It’s good news for the whole world that the sport has won, and the terrorists have lost again.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2013.
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Men of steel.