ISLAMABAD, Aug 23: Senior members of the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) have expressed concern over a 16-member climbers’ expedition which will be attempting the Rupal Peak close to Nanga Parbat.

The 5,642-metre-high mountain may not be as dominating as its neighbouring 7,000m and 8,000m plus peaks, but it commands respect nonetheless. Therefore, some ACP members believe the young climbers should have been trained further before attempting the high altitude peak.

“This is no walk in the park. Safety should be your top concern, not setting records or achieving the summit,” ACP President Col Manzoor Hussain told the young adventurers at a departure ceremony held at the Sports Complex, Islamabad on Friday.

The group departed for the expedition on Friday night to scale the Rupal Peak which is situated closed to the Nanga Parbat base camp. It was first attempted in 1964 and has been scaled by several local and foreign climbers since.

The current expedition, termed Pakistan’s second Green Rupal Peak Peace Expedition 2013, is being led by Muzaffar Faizi Awan, an active climber and an instructor at the ACP.It has been initiated by the Islamabad Alpine Association, a constituent of the ACP, to encourage climbing activities and facilitate inexperienced climbers attempt a high altitude peak.

The expedition has mainly been financed by participants who intend to push for the summit in two to three days depending on the weather conditions. The mountaineers, mostly in their 20s, are trained rock climbers but have no experience of negotiating routes on ice and snow. They had only prepared for a month before attempting the Rupal Peak.

Therefore, some members of the ACP feel the group is not ready for the ice and snow, and the concern have been amplified because two of the climbers are 12 and 14 years old.

The climbing leader, Faiz Ali, claimed he had reached the Rupal Peak summit in the 90s and was this time being accompanied by his 12-year-old son Hassan Faiz, an all Pakistan wall climbing champion. Faiz Ali said, “If a 14-year-old and an 80-year-old can summit Mount Everest this year, my son can surely climb a 5,000 metre peak.”

Apart from Hassan Faiz, Meesam Aly, a 20-year-old student and rock climber, is also a novice and his only climbing experience has been a recent trek to K2 base camp Concordia.

The same is true for 32-year-old Rizwan Saif. “This is going to be my first experience of climbing a high altitude mountain and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

The expedition leader Faizi Awan said, “The purpose of the expedition is to provide the youth an outdoor adventure and a learning experience. The awareness of mountaineering and the promotion of love are the objectives of this expedition.”

He added that the expedition members would not only climb the peak but would also plant trees in the valley and would apprise people of the importance of outdoor activities and peace.— Jamal Shahid

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