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ISLAMABAD: Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel is heading towards the Karakorum mountains in hopes of becoming the first person to complete a ski descent of K2.

Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) Secretary Karrar Haidri told Dawn on Tuesday that other ski mountaineers have tried to descend K2 in the past, sometimes with fatal consequences.

Mr Haidri said Italian climber Hans Kammerlander had attempted a descent in 2001 but had turned around just 400 metres from the summit after watching a Korean climber fall past him to his death.

Other ski mountaineers have tried to descend K2 in the past, sometimes with fatal consequences

Nearly a decade later in 2010, Swedish ski-mountaineer Fredrik Ericsson also died after a fall near the infamous bottleneck section.

Mr Haidri said this is Andrzej Bargiel’s second attempt and that he had abandoned his climb last season due to high avalanche and rock fall risks.

“The polish climber is a seasoned athlete and has previously skied down Shisapangma and Broad Peak. This year, before attempting K2, Andrzej Bargiel intends to acclimatize by climbing and skiing down Gasherbrum II, the lowest and relatively easy to access, of the 8,000-metre peaks in the Karakorum.

Mr Haidri said that veteran climbers coming to Pakistan have improved the image of the country.

“When they read and learn about extreme adventure athletes like Swiss explorer Mike Horn, who is attempting to climb Nanga Parbat this year and Andrzej Bargiel from Poland planning to ski on the slopes of K2 and the American Vanessa O’Brien who summited K2 last year, it makes Pakistan look good in the eyes of the world,” Mr Haidri said.

Pakistan was and still is an amazing country for all kinds of tourism, he said, especially adventure tourism. Besides the five highest mountains in the world out of the 14, there are hundreds of 6, 000 metre and 7, 000 metre peaks, far more technically challenging than some of the highest 8, 000 metre plus peaks.

“After the terror incident in June 2013 when nearly a dozen foreign climbers died, adventure tourism in Pakistan still needs to pick up,” he added.

Three-member team embark on K2 expedition

A team consisting of a Arab, Pakistani and Japanese mountaineers launched an attempt on Tuesday to scale K2 - the second highest peak in the world, also known as the ‘savage mountain’.

The three-member expedition team accompanied by 70 local porters departed for the K2 base camp from Skardu. The expedition had been organised by Karakoram Expedition.

Pakistani mountaineer Mirza Ali, Japan’s Yuki and Arab national Saeed Almamery were part of the expedition.

“We are excited to be partners with Saeed Almamery, the first Arab national and Yuki from Japan to try to scale K2,” Mirza Ali said in a Tweet.

Mirza Ali told Dawn that Mr Almamery was the first Arab national to climb any peak in Pakistan and that he had tried twice to scale the world’s highest mountain. He said they will attempt to climb K2 by the end of July.

Meanwhile, foreign expedition team named Furtenbach Adventures K2 and Broad Peak departed from the K2 base camp from Askoli on Monday.

The team leader is Roland Striemitzer from Austria and includes David Roeske from the US, Fredrik Strang from Sweden, Michael Baertschi and Mark Mueller from Switzerland, Afi Gigani from Georgia, and Nepali sherpas Mingma, Ram Nurbu and Nima. The expedition team plans to reach the tops of K2 and Broad Peak.

A 10-member Japanese team which started its campaign to climb K2 on June 5 arrived at the K2 base camp.

These climbers include, Teruko Otoma who is 73, Akira Oyabe, 47, Norio Katayangi, 69, Takashi Higashiyama, 37, Masaaki Yusa, 55, Hotaka Shirakura, 54, Kyoko Hayashi, 45, Kojiro Watanabe, 41, Masato Iizawa, 32, and Atsushi Taguchi, 30.

An expedition official told Dawn the Japanese expedition team was at the K2 base camp and fixing ropes from base camp to camp.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2018

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