Norwegian mountaineer Ralph Hoibakk is coming back to Pakistan in August to mark his golden jubilee of scaling Tirich Mir, the highest peak of the Hindu Kush Mountain Range.
According to an email sent to the Tourism Corporation Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) by Shahzada Sirajul Mulk, a member of the Chitral royal family, Hoibakk will arrive in Pakistan on August 3.
“Hoibakk is coming to Pakistan mainly to say farewell to the few surviving porters who accompanied him to the Tirich Mir summit in 1964 and who are all over 75 years of age,” Mulk wrote in the email.
Mulk urged the TCKP to use the opportunity of the Norwegian’s visit to publicise the 25,289 feet-high Tirich Mir to attract tourism and invite more foreign trekkers. “The people have almost forgotten Tirich Mir. The provincial government should utilise this opportunity to attract mountaineers,” he added.
According to Mulk, Hoibakk will be accompanied by four other mountaineers.
“Ralph remembers that fifty years ago his expedition received tremendous support from the government of Pakistan and the Chitral administration,” read Mulk’s email.
It added that the deputy commissioner opened government guesthouses for Hoibakk’s group and the police helped them acquire porters at controlled government rates.
However, the member of the royal family lamented that the same guesthouses that Hoibakk and his team stayed at are dilapidated now and the police has no interest in assisting tourists.
Mulk told The Express Tribune that on this trip, Hoibakk intends to retrace his steps to the Tirich Mir base camp. “In 1964, the group hired 70 donkeys to ferry their supplies and then hiked up to Barenis, from where they got 140 porters for their onward journey to Tirich Mir,” said Mulk. He urged the K-P government to write a welcome letter to the visiting group and added that the people of Chitral will take care of the rest.
Norwegian philosopher and mountaineer Arne Nasess has led two expeditions to Tirich Mir. In his article, ‘South Wall of Tirich Mir East,’ Nasess notes that Tirich Mir was not only the name of the mountain with two main peaks, but also of a mountain massif, a series of faults and ridges.
Nasess’s first climb to the summit of Tirich’s highest peak was made in the summer of 1950. The expedition comprised Nasess, Hans Bugge, Henry Berg, Per Kvernberg, Fridtjot Vogt Lorentzen and Captain Tony Streather of the Chitral State Scouts.
On July 22, 1950, at around 6pm, they scaled the highest peak of the mountain at a height of 25,263 feet.
“We could look down, across the Oxus, into the Soviet Union, and at the same time north-east into Chinese Turkistan. From where we stood, with a turn of the head we could look into Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, China, Kashmir, and possibly even Tibet,” Captain Streather wrote in the Himalayan Journal.
In 1964, Nasess’s second team comprised three young mountaineers, including Andreas Opdal, Ralph Hoibakk and Per Vigerust. This expedition scaled Tirich Mir’s second highest peak at 25,237 feet.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2014.