A TEAM of 10 Nepalese mountaineers made history over the weekend as they scaled the world’s second highest peak K2 which had until now never been summited in winter. The climbers have set a benchmark of courage and endurance. Apart from the Nepalese feat, 367 climbers have completed the ascent of K2 in summer. Their numbers have included several Pakistani mountaineers including the prolific Nazeer Sabir, who scaled K2 in 1981, Hassan Sadpara, Fazal Ali and others. In 2014, six Pakistani climbers who were part of an expedition, scaled the K2 to become the first team of climbers from the country to do so. K2, which stands at a daunting 8,611m, is also known as the Savage Peak. It has a reputation for being the world’s most difficult mountain to climb and is notorious for frequent rock falls and avalanches while the weather is unpredictable with strong winds and unusually low winter temperatures. Such perils have taken the lives of almost 90 climbers in their quest to scale the mountain. On the same day as the Nepalese summited the peak, a Spanish climber Sergi Mingote lost his life when he fell into a crevasse while returning to base camp. The current base camp at K2 was set up in December 2020 which apparently featured the largest gathering of climbers in a winter season and some of the biggest names in mountaineering such as Waldemar Kowalewski and Pakistan’s Ali Sadpara among others, according to the Alpine Club of Pakistan. Given its terrain in the north, it is a wonder that Pakistan has yet to develop its sports facilities and welcome visitors who are attracted to winter games.

As home to some of the highest peaks in the world, there is much potential for mountaineering, as there is for other sports such as skiing, snowboarding and even ice skating. While there have been recent attempts to encourage winter sports, not much can be accomplished without an effective sports policy.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2021

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