KARACHI: Pakistani mountaineer Abdul Jabbar Bhatti, the retired colonel who recently became the fourth Pakistani to summit the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, said on Thursday he was proud to return home after accomplishing the feat.

“I’m happy to have hoisted our national flag atop Mount Everest. These are proud moments for me,” he told media personnel after arriving at the Islamabad Airport.

It was notable that there were no government officials or anyone from the Pakistan Sports Board to receive the mountaineer at the airport.

Upon his arrival, Bhatti spoke to BBC Urdu and DawnNews about his ordeal climbing the world’s highest mountain.

He revealed that his porter, instead of taking three bottled oxygen tanks, carried only one, resulting in a serious shortage of oxygen. Shockingly, Mr Bhatti said this meant he was forced to spend one night at a height of 8,500 metres without any oxygen.

Mr Bhatti’s porter had previously said via Facebook that the retired colonel insisted on scaling Everest, despite his repeated requests to back down because of bad weather.

However, Mr Bhatti refuted the porter’s claims. He told BBC Urdu: “The porter asked me to stand down when we were still not very high up the mountain. I asked him why he wasted my time and money if he couldn’t scale the mountain. When we reached closer to the summit, we ran out of oxygen and the weather was also becoming unfavourable. That’s when I told him we should go back down, but he insisted we should climb to the top.”

On his way back down, Mr Bhatti was in dire need of rescue.

Thanking God, he recalled that five individuals helped him get back down from 8,600 metres to safety.

Before arriving in Islamabad, Mr Bhatti underwent one-week treatment at a hospital in Kathmandu.

“The way I was assisted by the people there is indescribable,” he said.

Mr Bhatti, who himself managed the finances of the Rs6 million trip, said he was thankful to the people of Pakistan as right from the outset of his voyage they had been praying for his success and safe return.

Mr Bhatti has successfully scaled Broad Peak (8,051 metres high) in 1985; Gasherbrum 2 (8,035m) in 1986 and Spantik Peak (7,027m) in 2012.

Prior to him, Pakistani mountaineers Nazir Sabir, Hasan Sadpara and Samina Baig have summited Everest.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2017

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