Six mountaineers from Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) are among a team that scaled the second highest peak in the world – K2 – on Saturday, ahead of the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of the mountain on July 31st.
While individuals from Pakistan have made the climb before, this is the first time that a team of Pakistanis has made the journey. The Pakistan-Italy venture is supported by the G-B government and sponsored by the Italian organisation Ev-k2CNR.
Amjad Ayub, president of Pakistan Tour Operators Association (PATO), confirmed the summit, which was made without using supplementary oxygen.
The current expedition - called K2 60 Years Later - includes six Pakistanis: Hassan Jan, Ali Durrani, Rahmat Ullah Baig, Ghulam Mehdi, Rozi Ali and Muhammad Sadiq. Sadiq is a resident of Baltistan and the younger brother of well-known mountaineer Hasan Sadpara. The other members of the Pakistan team are from the Hushe valley of Baltistan and Shimshal. The team includes three Italians, to mark the anniversary of the first successful ascent of K2 by two Italians - Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli - in 1954.
The team was led by Ali Durrani, Muhammad Mehdi and Rahmat Sadik, who reportedly completed the journey without additional oxygen support. “Thirty mountaineers in another group are following this first group and they will soon make it to the summit,” Sadiq said.
The team had left basecamp on July 22 and spent a night at Camp One, Camp Two and Camp Three. They were reported to be at Camp Four on Friday and left for the summit at 9pm. The climbers made it to the summit at 02:30pm Saturday afternoon.
At least 10 other climbers managed to reach the summit on Saturday, after the first group. Among the climbers was Czech mountaineer Radek Jaros at the head of his own team. This was reportedly Jaros’ 14th summit over 8,000m, and he is the first Czech to make it to the K-2 summit.
The other groups reported to have teamed up are: International expedition (Adrian Hayes, Al Hancock), Chris Burke, Tsering Sherpa and Lakpa Sherpa, Italian expedition (Giuseppe Pompili, Tamara Lunger, Nikolaus Gruber and Amin Baig), Czech expedition led by Radek Jaros, Greek Duo (Alexandros Aravidis and Panagiotis Athanasiadis), Ferran Latorre, and the Nepalese All Female Expedition.
Sadia Danish, the information minister for G-B, who also heads the tourism department of the region, termed the summit as the first step of revival of tourism in the area.
“The local tourism industry had been badly affected by last year’s killings on Nanga Parbat base camp, the success will help in reviving it,” she told AFP. “Those tourists who had omitted Gilgit-Baltistan from their destination because of last year’s killings will now add it back,” she said.
Last year, K2 denied all efforts by climbers to go beyond Camp 3 due to extreme snow conditions.
K2 is located on the border between Baltistan, in the Gilgit Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China.
Unlike Mount Everest that has been summited by nearly 3,500 young and old climbers, K2 has been a much lonelier place with roughly 300 making to its tops since it was first captured 60 years ago. Many climbers have died on the descent.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2014.