ISLAMABAD: Sirbaz Khan from Hunza has become the first Pakistani to scale three of the highest peaks in the world without using supplementary oxygen.
He accomplished the feat after climbing the fourth highest mountain on earth, 8,516 metres Mount Lhotse, on May 14.
At a press conference held on Tuesday, Khan shared his success story with reporters.
His expedition was sponsored by Serena Hotels under its Adventure Diplomacy Programme.
The mediapersons were informed that in July 2018 Khan scaled K2, the second tallest peak in the world, without oxygen along with his partner Fazal Ali from Shimshal, who has set the record of scaling K2 thrice without supplementary oxygen.
In Oct 2017, Khan scaled Nanga Parbat without supplementary oxygen.
The 30-year-old plans to climb all the 14 above 8,000 metres high peaks in the world without supplementary oxygen. In about two weeks, Khan will be attempting to climb Broad Peak in the Karakoram Range that too without oxygen before attempting Mount Everest next year.
It was not easy for him this year. He could not climb Mt Everest which is about 300 metres from Mt Lhotse.
“This year was extremely cold on Mt Lhotse and Mt Everest -31 degrees to -37 degrees. The extreme cold gave me frostbite on my toes. Doctors told me I will lose my toes if I continued climbing from Lhotse to Mt Everest. It was disappointing but I will try summating Mt Everest without oxygen next year,” he said.
In the death zone, which begins above 8,000 metres, it is extremely difficult to continue without supplementary oxygen, the climber said adding: “Decision making becomes hard. At that altitude the body is begging for oxygen which is only 20 per cent compared to 80 to 90pc at the sea levels.”
There were 12 climbers in his team and two others were also able to summit Lhotse without supplementary oxygen.
“One of them died during descent because of fatigue, strong winds and lack of oxygen,” Khan said.
In response to a question, Khan said: “Anyone can climb with supplementary oxygen whether it’s a 70-year-old or a 10-year-old child. For me it is less satisfying to climb with supplementary oxygen.”
In his message, Serena Hotels CEO Aziz Bolani said it was a privilege to support Sirbaz Khan in his expedition. We will continue to support talent to promote adventure tourism in Pakistan to bring diverse experiences to our communities.
Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2019