ISLAMABAD: The only winter expedition in the mountains was called off when a climber and a porter with a two member group attempting the first ascent of the Khurdupin Pass, one of the highest Karakoram Range, fell into a crevasse.
Veteran climber Qudrat Ali and his climbing partner Samiya Rafiq were attempting the summit of the Khurdupin Pass, which is a 5,790 metre high pass and has not been summited in the winters before and set off on the climb on Dec 24.
With five porters accompanying them, the duo had reached a camp at 5,100 metres on Dec 31 and planned to cross the Khurdupin Pass on Jan 1 but several crevasses obstructed their progress. Qudrat Ali and porter Farhad Khan fell into one of the crevasses, when they were just 600 metres away from the pass. Qudrat Ali rescued Farhad and the climbers decided to turn back.
Qudrat Ali belongs to Shimshal Valley and has climbed four of the five 8,000 metre high mountains including Broad Peak, Gasherbrum I and II and the Nanga Parbat. He said the weather on the Khurdupin Pass was hostile, with unexpected winds of 60 kph and temperatures dipping to -30 degrees Centigrade.
Two-member climbing team was attempting first winter summit of the 5,790 metre Khurdopin pass
The Khurdupin is very technical to climb and is one of the most challenging high altitude crossings on the planet. Located between Shimshal and Snow Lake, this highest pass of the Karakoram was last crossed after almost 20 years of attempted summits in July 2007 by Jef Houben and Qudrat Ali and has never been crossed in the winters.
Khurdupin has difficult routes and the harsh weather conditions, absence of a climbing window, high risk of falling seracs, many crevasses, crystal ice and heavy wind has deterred many climbers.
“There has been a huge change in the formation of the Khurdupin glacier since 2007 and we had to change course due to these changes,” Mr Ali said.
This is the first attempt to climb the Khurdupin Pass in the winters and Samiya Rafiq is the first woman to attempt the Khurdupin Laa.
Samiya Rafiq was born in Saudi Arabia and belongs to Karachi. She is an entrepreneur and has a degree from IBA. She has been a mountaineer since 2011, has attempted solo winter expeditions for three years and has explored some untouched routes in the Karakoram Range.
She explained that the expedition spent most of its time exploring and scouting various routes for crossing difficult sections.
“We took different routes on our way back due to the frequently falling rocks,” she said.
The duo was attempting to emphasise on gender equality and promote peace. The expedition was meant to emphasise the importance of teamwork, trust and commitment. The two climbers will attempt to cross the Khurdopin Laa again.
However, the Alpine Club of Pakistan was not aware of any winter expeditions on the Khurdopin Laa and called this an individual effort.
Published in Dawn January 16th, 2017