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Risks do not deter mountaineers from taking on peaks

Updated July 14, 2013

ISLAMABAD, July 13: The tragic incident on June 22 in which almost a dozen mountaineers were killed near Nanga Parbat, and the natural hurdles such as winds and heavy snow, have not deterred mountaineers from attempting various peaks of the country.

The climbing summer season 2013 has been tough for mountaineers and the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) reported that teams attempting to summit K2 had been forced to stay at Base Camp by heavy snow and strong winds since the current week started.

K2, the second highest peak in the world, once again demonstrated how tough it could be for some climbers, as bad weather forced Alex Txikon to abandon his ascent to Camp I and return to Base Camp. His team mates, the Spaniard Felix Criado and Mexican Benjamin Salazar, had to change their climbing route due to the excessive snow.

However, the Swiss Team (Mike Horn, Fred and Kobi) and a Japanese expedition had established Camp II before the weather worsened. The Swiss team was able to spend one night there, and would now push towards Camp III.

The UK-Nepal-Canada team, which includes four Sherpas (Himalayan people famous for mountaineering), had already established Camp I at the height of 6,100 metres, and would soon attempt Camp II at 6,700 metres.

Karrar Haidri, the ACP spokesman, said mountaineers were risk takers and were not afraid of incidents such as the one which led to the death of 10 climbers. “They know their lives are full of danger, but this does not stop them from accomplishing what they want,” he said.

According to the ACP spokesman, the Argentineans (Matoco Erroz and Juan Pablo Milana) had reached K2 Base Camp (BC) last week and were waiting for a clear weather. Similarly, an international K2/Broad Peak team, which was working on Broad Peak, was hoping to move on to K2 soon.

The better weather at Broad Peak has inspired most teams intending to summit it to push for the top, which have set July 14 as the summit day.

Rauno (Ron) Hoglin and Scott Stuart, members of the Field Touring Alpine trekking company, had left Broad Peak’s base camp on July 11, and were hoping to reach the top on 14.

The other two members of the team, John Quillen and Brian Richard Moran, are waiting to be evacuated to Skardu as Brian had injured his leg last week and would be accompanied back by John. However, the weather so far has not been suitable for an air lift.

The Iranians have also reached Broad Peak and started the summit push. Except one climber, Abdul Azim Brahmani, the team is working on an alternate route and has already established Camp III at 7,100 metres.

Meanwhile, the Alpine Club mountaineering team participating in the Pak-China Friendship Expedition 2013 to climb the 7,548 metre high Muztagh Ata peak in Xinjiang, China had arrived at the 4,200 metre high base camp at noon on July 10.

The Pakistani team leader Rehamtullah reported from the base camp that all Pakistani members were in good health and high spirits. The five-member Chinese side is being led by Youngfung, the vice president of China Mountaineering Association. The expedition is expected to establish climbing route up to Camp I at 5,200 metres this week after acclimatisation at the base.

On the Gasherbrums, the European climbing expeditions AMICAL Alpin has started attempting the Gasherbrum II summit, while expedition leader Thomas Laemmle and high altitude porters had left for Camp I a day before. The team has set July 16 as the date to summit the mountain top.

Several other teams are still busy in acclimatising to Camp I and Camp II.

Member Executive Council ACP Karrar Haidri said, “At the killer mountain, Nanga Parbat, the Romanians are ascending. All five climbers left for Camp I (5,100 metres) and the team expects to summit around July 17 or 19.”

He added that they were attempting the 8,126-metre-high peak from the Rupal Side, which was one of the hardest and steepest routes on Nanga Parbat.