ISLAMABAD: Adventure tourism seems to have lost its charm this year with only one expedition coming to Pakistan to try to summit K2 in the winter season.
“After a team of 10 Nepali Sherpas conquered K2, which is only 200 metres shorter than Mount Everest, not many climbers are drawn towards K2 or any of the
other four peaks above 8,000 metres this winter season,” said tour operator Sakhawat Hussain, who is managing the only expedition that was expected to arrive in Pakistan in mid-December to summit K2 in the winter of 2022.
However, that expedition too has been delayed after the Taiwanese team leader, Tseng Ko Erh, ran into visa issues. Tseng Ko Erh has engaged seven Nepali Sherpas to assist him.
“I have already transported climbing gear of the entire team to the base camp and has been waiting for the eight-man team that was scheduled to reach Pakistan on Dec 14,” Sakhawat Hussain told Dawn.
While even a successful spring or summer climb of K2 is rare, there had been six prior winter attempts over the years. In the winters of 2013-14, the 14-member Russian expedition failed to summit the mountain after losing a team mate. Another case of failure was that of the Polish expedition in 2018. In February last year, Pakistani mountaineer Ali Sadpara and his two companions from Iceland John Snorri and Chile’s Juan Pablo Mohr died on K2, which is regarded by many as a ‘savage mountain’ due to its difficult topography and unpredictable weather.
Until last year, the once insurmountable K2, part of the Karakoram Range that straddles on the Pakistan and China border, was the only 8,000er left out of the 14 peaks that has never been conquered during the winter season.
According to Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) Secretary Karrar Haidri, adventure tourism had been on a decline due to Covid-19, and now with the emergence of the Omicron variant, it had been further affected.
According to the official, unlike last year, not a single expedition from Spain, Poland, Italy, the United Kingdom and the US had applied for a permit to climb any of the five peaks above 8,000 metres - K2, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum I and II.
Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2022