ISLAMABAD, July 17: Two British climbers have become the first to scale the 8,126-metre Nanga Parbat summit by traversing the long and knife-edged Mazeno Ridge last Saturday, according to Alpine Club of Pakistan (APC).

Sandy Allan and Rick Allen reached the summit at 6:12pm on July 14. They are also the first to conquer an eight-thousander peak this year.

“This particular crest is knife-edged and 10-km long, dividing the exceptionally dangerous Diamir Face and Rupal Face of the killer mountain. One has to cross eight 7,000-metre and higher summits to attempt Nanga Parbat from this route,” Karrar Haidri, a member of ACP's executive council told Dawn. An American team, which was also attempting the peak, has returned defeated by the mountain, while a Czech team is still persisting in its effort to surmount it.

ACP described the feat of Sandy from Scotland and Rick from England as “truly extraordinary” because no team attempting this route in the past could ascend the Mazeno Ridge all the way to the summit of Nanga Parbat. Assisted by three Nepali Sherpas, the successful climbers had Cathy O'Dowd of South Africa as the third member of their small expedition.

After establishing Base Camp at the height of 4,900 metres in mid June, and the usual acclimatisation period, the climbers set off for the summit on July 2. They met unfavourable weather on the ascent but pushed on.

They kept the world informed about their progress through tweet and satellite phone messages. The mountaineering world was watching with bated breath, knowing that their commitment apart, the extremely difficult climbing posed a real nightmare.

Their blog reflected the climbers’ anxiety. They noted that further the expedition ascended the ridge, a lot more dangerous it became and made sense less and less as retracing their steps looked even more dangerous.

The Alpine Club of Pakistan would arrange a press briefing as soon as the team returns to Islamabad.

Theirs’ was not the only success story this month. The day after they scaled Nanga Parbat, the China-Pakistan Friendship Expedition scaled Spantik Peak.

Expedition leader Lt Col (retired) Dr Abdul Jabbar Bhatti in a call from the summit said that the expedition members took turns to reach the summit between 1:45pm and 2:15pm on Sunday July 15. Earlier, the summit team, which had started from Camp II (5, 600 meters) on July 14 set up Camp III (6,200 metres) the same day and pushed for the summit the following day.

Chinese and Pakistani members hoisted their national flags jointly on the Spantik summit.

It was partially cloudy with light snowfall throughout their ascent from Camp III.  The Expedition was scheduled to descend to the Base Camp on July 16. All its members were stated to be in good health.

The expedition was undertaken to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan, under the aegis of Government of Gilgit Baltistan.

The team comprised six Chinese and six Pakistani members and was being led jointly by Luo Shen of the Chinese Mountaineering Association and Lt Col (retired) Dr Abdul Jabbar Bhatti, Vice President, Alpine Club of Pakistan.

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