This year, Saad Mohamed aspires to become the fourth Pakistani ever to summit Mount Everest.

The 35-year-old inherited the travel bug from his father, and climbing peaks has been annual ritual for him.

He has summitted unclimbed peaks – most recently, three in the Shimshal Valley just above 5,000 metres that he also named.

Mr Mohamed claims to be the only Pakistani from outside Shimshal to have trekked across the Shpodeen Pass twice, and also attempted – unsuccessfully – to climb the 5,200 metre Mali-ka Parbat, his first ever winter attempt and one of his most technical climbing experiences so far.

Mr Mohamed is planning to leave in the first week of April to summit Mount Everest this summer.

Q: How and when did you decide to climb Mount Everest?

A: I was part of the 10-member Pakistan-China Friendship expedition on Spantik Peak in 2012. Summiting the 7,000 metre plus mountain gave me a lot of courage to take on bigger adventures. I have been preparing to climb Mount Everest since then.

That was not all. When Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman climbed Mount Everest, I told myself that if she could do it, so could I.

Q: Why Mount Everest and not K2 or the other four peaks above 8,000 metres located in Pakistan?

A: Mount Everest is the ultimate trophy and summiting the world’s highest mountain on Earth has been a lifelong dream. I have stood at the base camp of K2, the second highest peak in the world, and it sent fear down my spine. I always wondered what standing at the foot of the highest mountain in the world would be like. I’m looking forward to Mount Everest instilling the same kind of fear in me and when it does I’ll know that things are normal.

Q: What are some of the challenges you fear Mount Everest will throw at you and what is your strategy to conquer the peak?

A: There is no particular strategy. I have been preparing to fight the extreme cold and fatigue on the 8,848 metre peak, which will be the biggest challenge. Unlike more seasoned climbers who choose challenging and difficult routes, I do not have such plans and will stick to the regular route. My sponsors have laid certain conditions for my safety. I have also been instructed by my sponsors to use bottled oxygen while attempting to summit the Mount Everest.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2017