ISLAMABAD, June 28: It was his four years in the military that helped Zhang Jingchuan survive the terrorist attacks on mountaineers at the Nanga Parbat base camp that left 10 of his colleagues dead last Saturday.
The Chinese citizen left Pakistan on Wednesday after sharing his incredible story with the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP).
“We were asleep when they came for us. They dragged us all out and tied up our hands. We were then made to get down on the ground on our knees. After they searched everyone, the massacre began. The shot was aimed at my head but it missed. And I began to run towards the valley,” Zhang Jingchuan told the ACP in brief comments, adding how the military training had helped him stay alert and not lose presence of mind.
“Survival in the wilderness or under such circumstances is part of training of soldiers. Zhang Jingchuan is a martial artist that was probably why he was quick to react, seeing an opportunity to somehow untie his hands and run for his life after the bullet missed his head,” explained ACP President Col Manzoor Hussain.
According to the ACP spokesman, Karrar Haidri, Zhang Jingchuan returned to the base camp after hiding for more than an hour and made a call for help.
He had contacted his agency, the Seven Summit Treks in Nepal, which then got in touch with famous mountaineer Nazir Sabir, the owner of Nazir Sabir Expeditions, which was managing one of the four expeditions on the Nanga Parbat.
The ACP said after Nazir Sabir approached the military, helicopters reached the base camp, 4,800 metres high, at around 6am to 7am.
The only Pakistani murdered at the base camp was Ali Hussain, a cook and a high-altitude porter from Hushe village.
The sole bread earner of his family, Hussain left behind his five year-old son and two daughters.
According to the ACP, three climbers from the Polish Alpine Club — Adam Stadnik, Boguslaw Magrel and Wlodek Kierus - who were climbing the Nanga Parbat at the time of the attack had also told various sources the nightmarish experiences.
“The camp was surrounded, all climbers were dragged out of their tents, bound, robbed and then shot,” the ACP quoted Boguslaw Magrel writing in a blog.
The ACP said there were about 50 or so climbers from Pakistan, Ukraine, and international teams consisting of climbers from Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Azerbaijan.
Another team of Ukrainian and Slovak climbers along with Sherpas from Nepal had brought with them mountaineers from China and a climber from Turkey.
Col Manzoor Hussain, the ACP president, explained that the expeditions had started arriving in the area weeks back and had been getting acclimatised.
“The Chinese were part of the Nazir Sabir Expedition and had arrived late on June 19 and were still at the base camp I.
The other climbers who were at the base camp that night and were killed were those who were unwell or had set up base camp II farther up the route and had returned to rest,” said Col Hussain, explaining how the climbers would often establish base camps higher on the mountain but descend to the previous camp as a technique to gradually get used to the thin air at the high altitudes.
After a sleepless night, the climbers were flown to Gilgit in helicopters and brought to Islamabad in a C-130 aircraft.
However, most of the climbers who had to abandon their summit after the incident update their blogs, urging discretion especially when terrorist elements had targeted foreign tourists in Pakistan.
Nonetheless, the ACP said the Romanians on the Rupal side, the highest rock and ice wall in the world, of the Nanga Parbat were still climbing and had reached 7,200 metres a few days ago on the 8,126 metres high peak.
After managing to equip the route and camps for a summit push, the team started descending to lower camps.
The team was now for a clear window to continue the climb and make a summit push. An official decision on the matter was awaited.