ISLAMABAD, Aug 29: When most of twenty year olds are hooked to Facebook and getting consumed by play stations, David Lama is busy making the world a happening place.
Drawn to the rocks, the 22-year-old free-style alpinist became one of the youngest climbers to summit the 6, 239 metres high Trango Towers (near the Baltoro Glacier, Gilgit-Baltistan district) that offer mountaineers and alpinists, one of the most challenging rock climbing experiences.
Best yet, David Lama climbed the highest tower of the dramatic granite spires in two days — alpine style — unlike the slower expedition style with fixed ropes, installing camps, and gradually working their way up.
“This is one large cliff,” where the words that flowed out of the mouth, when David Lama stood at its base.
“Pakistan has some of the most impressive mountains and rock faces in the world, especially when you come from a country that only offers you a peak barely 4, 000 metres high,” said the Austrian alpinist who has secured multiple first time ascents in the Alps.
And for someone who had been climbing since the age of nine, in Europe, Africa and the US, David Lama was well aware that overall, the Trango Towers group had seen some of the most difficult and significant climbs ever accomplished, due to the combination of altitude, total height of the routes, and the steepness of the rock.
“It is a highly technical climb,” said David Lama. David Lama arrived in Pakistan with his teammate Peter Ortner on July 17, 2012 and reached the Trango Tower base camp on July 24, 2012.
The two alpinists attempting Trango Monk, over 5,800 metres high, stopped 100 metres short of the summit because the climbers were not acclimatised. In another attempt, Great Trango 6, 200 metres high was also cut short by 50 metres due to lack of acclimatisation.
“But our focus was set on the Eternal Flame shining down on us at the base camp, since it was first climbed back in 1989,” said David Lama.
The first tedious day of the climb took David Lama and Peter Ortner and an accompanying photographer Corey Rich to sunny terrace 5, 700 metres high on the vertical drop.
“Altitude sickness kicked in. I had a headache and did not want to think of climbing the next day. But when I hung my first pitch the next day, I had completely forgotten about my sickness,” said David Lama explained as he spent the next ten hours climbing more than 600 metres and made history. The three made it to the summit on July 30, 2012.
According to David Lama, it was a “very fast ascent”. The mock attempts, the summit and back to base camp took six days in all.
David Lama knew he was coming back to Pakistan next year when he saw the 7, 665 metres high Chogolisa Mountain near the Baltoro glacier in the Concordia region to climb to new heights.
“It’s not about collecting achievements. It’s about the experience,” David Lama said.