Slippery slope : ‘K2 was as savage 30 years ago as it is today’

Nazir Sabir became the first Pakistani to climb K2.

Gibran Ashraf July 06, 2014


Nazir Sabir made history by climbing K2’s West/South West Ridge for the first time with a group from the Japanese Waseda University in 1981. At 8,500 meters on the previously unclimbed West Ridge, Sabir recalls they had to spend the night due to a storm. That night he had a long argument with the group leader who was wary of pushing on to the summit given the conditions.

“We fought at 8,500m with the team leader for 45 minutes insisting that I will go and summit no matter what,” he recalls. “The group leader asked how long it would take to climb to the top. I said one hour. The leader said that if in an hour I was just under the summit, I would be obliged to return.” Even the liaison officer with them gave up on Sabir.


The next morning, Sabir and Ehio Otani climbed the summit hand in hand. “On August 7, 1981 at around 11 am we climbed to the summit.”

Sabir had not slept for three nights before and had little to eat and drink in that time. “It’s a miracle I did not die,” he says, adding that in their ill-prepared trip they had not packed the right kind of clothes or gear, but seemingly a lot of luck. “We lost just one sheep on that expedition.”

At the top though, Sabir recalls he had some of the most intense moments of his life. He prayed for his brother who had died the previous year on Diran peak and all those who had lost their lives on the Karakoram.

After spending an hour at the top, they started their descent. “When I look back [at summiting K2] it [feels like] an amazing dream.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2014.


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