The first-ever Pakistani mountaineering, scientific and environmental research expedition will attempt K-2, the world’s second highest mountain, this month to mark the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of the peak by an Italian team on July 31, 1954.
Italian scientific research organisation EV-K2-CNR, which has been working in the region for the last three decades, has provided funds, equipment, training, and technical assistance to eight mountaineers from Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) selected for this expedition by Italian mountaineer Murizio Gallo. Two Italian mountaineers will accompany them and provide technical support.
“K-2 is the best brand to lift Pakistan’s image”, Ev-K2-CNR President Agostino Da Polenza said while briefing the media about the expedition at the National Press Club here on Monday.
“We are happy to be associated with K-2 and the Karakoram Range,” said Italian Consul Tommaso Sansone, deputy head of the Italian mission in Pakistan, adding that Italy’s love for K-2 began back in 1909.
Domenico Brozzone of the SEED project, an intervention for climate and mountaineering research and development in G-B, spoke about the first K-2 ascent by an Italian expedition on July 31, 1954, when Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli reached the summit, considered the most difficult mountain in the word.
The success of that historical challenge was possible thanks to the support of the expedition’s Pakistani members and local porters. Information and Broadcasting Minister Pervaiz Rashid thanked the Italians for their love for the K-2 over the last 100 years and for funding the expedition.
The expedition will leave Skardu on June 14 and should approach the summit around the end of July.
Team leader of the expedition, Muhammad Taqi, lamented that mountaineering is not a priority for our governments. “We are happy and look forward to scaling K-2 as mountaineers and not porters.”
A number of Pakistani climbers have reached the K-2 summit over the last 60 years, but this is the first entirely Pakistani team to attempt it.
The expedition will also promote the Central Karakoram National Park, on which EvK2CNR has been working with the Karakoram International University and the G-B government.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2014.