GILGIT: As many as 1,400 mountaineers from around the globe, including the first female Arab climber, are expected to scale some of the world’s highest peaks located in Gilgit-Baltistan this year.
It’s a stark contrast to the previous year, when 550 foreign climbers arrived for adventure tourism.
The Gilgit-Baltistan tourism department had already issued 700 permits to international climbers, and as many were expected to be issued this summer, an official told Dawn.
The climbers — coming from Europe, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, China, Russia, Poland, Japan and Norway — are eyeing to summit various peaks, including five eight-thousanders (i.e. mountains towering above 8,000 metres) and 20 seven- and six-thousanders.
Pakistan boasts five of the world’s 14 eight-thousanders, including the world’s second-highest peak K2 (8,611 metres), followed by Nanga Parbat (ranked ninth at 8,126 metres), Gasherbrum-I (11th at 8,080 metres), Broad Peak (12th at 8,051 metres), and Gasherbrum-II (13th at 8,035m).
700 permits have been issued so far and as many are expected to be given this summer
Moreover, 40 Pakistani mountaineers are also in the race, including Sajid Ali Sadpara, Sirbaz Khan, Abdul Joshi, Sheroze Kashif, Samina Baig and Naila Kiani.
As many as 3,000 local porters have been hired by several expedition teams to carry the supplies.
Alpine Club of Pakistan Secretary Karrar Haidri said many international expedition team members from various countries had already arrived in Pakistan. He said this was the highest number of international mountaineers coming to Pakistan since the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
Mr Haidri said a record number of more than 400 climbers would attempt to scale K2, the second-highest — and also the most challenging — peak in the world.
He believed that the prevailing peaceful environment in Pakistan and the introduction of online visas had helped attract such a large number of international tourists this year.
GB Tourism Minister Raja Nasir Ali Khan told Dawn the tourism department was ready to facilitate climbers and cope with emergencies. He said 1,200 international climbers had applied for permits, adding that this year would witness record adventure tourism activity in Pakistan.
Home Secretary Iqbal Hussain Khan told Dawn the GB government and the army had all arrangements in place to rescue climbers in case of emergency.
Adventure Pakistan CEO Muhammad Ali Nagri told Dawn several expeditions had reached base camps while more were on the way.
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2022