the-south-asian.com January 2004
Page 6 of 7
Pakistan's Hunza & Balti Climbers
Sabir comes from Raminji village in the remotest Chapurson Valley of Gojal,
Northern Hunza. Up to the 1970s, there was not even a primary school. Nazir started off his climbing career with a Japanese
expedition to the 7284 meter high Passu peak in Hunza in 1974. In 1975 he
attempted Nanga Parbat (8125 m) with a German Expedition. In 1976 July 17 he
along with Lt.Col. Manzoor Hussain climbed with the first Alpine Club
Expedition to 6600 meter high, Mt. Paiyu.
1977 Nazir Sabir and another
climber from Hunza, Ashraf Aman teamed up for the first Pakistan - Japanese
expedition to K-2, attempting the traditional South East Abruzzi ridge.
However Nazir Sabir’s first assault team had to turn back due to bad
weather. Ashraf Aman as part of
the No.3 summit assault team became the first Pakistani to summit K-2 and
along with Ichiro
Yoshizawa became the 9th K2- climbers. Till
then only two mountaineers of the 1954 successful Italian expedition had
stepped on the K-2 Summit. It was a huge expedition,
using bottled oxygen; this team had an army of 1500 porters and 52 members. In
1980, Nazir Sabir lost his elder brother, who was buried under an ice
avalanche while attempting Diran peak with an Army expedition.
Sabir got the chance to climb K2 in 1981 by accompanying a Japanese Waseda
University Expedition to K-2 attempting the West and South West ridge rather
than the usual Abruzzi ridge. The Duke of Abruzzi had in 1909, surveyed K-2
from all its sides. He felt that K-2 could only be assailed from the South
West ridge, which was to be named Abruzzi ridge. The route to the West and
North West ridges of K-2 is via Savoia glacier. This is north of Godwin
Austen glacier and the traditional K-2 Base Camp. It involves difficult
grade, ice and rock climb at higher elevations with winds at 100+ kms. In
1978 famous British climber Chris Bonington made his first attempt on this
route. Nick Estcourt, part of this team, was swept by a slab avalanche above
their Camp I.
followed by Eiho Otani reached the K-2
summit on 7 August 1981. Nazir created history by successfully climbing
K-2's South West ridge for the first time. He was the second Pakistani to
stand on K-2 summit and the fourth in the world. A documentary film of the
climb, shown all over Japan, made Nazir Sabir a house hold name in Japan. In
due course Nazir had also picked up Japanese language and could speak it
fluently. Later in 1986 he was to marry a Japanese girl.
Nazir Sabir in 1982, along with Sher Khan joined the famous Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner in his attempt to scale Broad Peak (8047 m) and Gasherbrum II (8035 m) in one attempt. Both Gasherbrum II and Broad Peak were done in Alpine style in a period of just one week! For his outstanding achievements, he was honored with President's Medal for Pride of Performance in the sports of Mountaineering in 1982. Campaigning for the Hunza seat in the 1994 elections for the Northern Area Council, for a five year term, he defeated his opponent from the traditional Mir of Hunza family with a wide margin. He was elated as Advisor on Education and Tourism for the Northern Area. He fell about 400 meters while going to Nanga Parbat in 1985
Sabir’s attempt on the Everest in 1997 resulted in failure., but on 17 May
2000, climbing in a full moon in the night to avoid high winds he reached
Everest at 0730 hours.
Aman comes from Aliabad, in Hunza. He studied at Karachi N.E.D University
and graduated with a B.Tech degree in Electrical Engineering.
In 1977, he climbed with the Joint Expedition of Pakistan/Japan. In total
there were 35 climbers from Japan and five from Pakistan. Three Japanese
climbers succeeded in first attempt. The Second attempt with one Pakistani [
Nazir Sabir ] and three Japanese had no success. In the 3rd
attempt three Japanese and Ashraf Aman climbed K2 successfully.
As a result he was awarded President's Medal, Pride of performance. Of his
climb in 1977 he says:
days in 1977, we didn't have plastic boots, we had only leather shoes and
heavy high altitude cloth, now climbing is very easy due to modern equipment
and communication helicopter facilities. I had frost bite. There was no
helicopter to rescue. I had to walk up to Dasso. Every day my doctor had to bandage my toes, I
was walking by help of ski poles.”
worked as Liaison Officer with the first Pakistani K-2 Winter Expedition
from December 1987 to March 1988 led by Mr. A. Zawada from Poland .In
addition he has been a technical engineer, manager and liaison officer and
been on many [ about 20 ] expeditions from
a host of countries .He now runs a professional climbing tour company called ‘ Adventure Tours Pakistan’ ]
[see http://www.k2news.com/amanqa.htm for a complete list of Ashraf Aman climbing
Aman’s views on the comparison between Balti Porters and Nepalese Sherpas
is also presented in the above interview .
high porters are also allowed to climb the K-2. But as compared to Sherpas,
Pakistani high porters are not skilled enough. They are not trained
properly. As we compare K-2
with Everest we hardly have 5 to 8 expeditions every year and few of them
take high altitude porters with them. This is also a reason of being a small
number of local K-2 climbers. While on the other eight thousand peaks in
Pakistan there are many good climbers who are ready to climb. So far there
has not been a Pakistani expedition organized to K-2.
the subject of present day climbing of K2 , Ashraf Aman feels that K-2 is
now very easy [ relative to how good the climber is ] . All one needs is
modern equipment, good weather and experience, plus professional guidance.
- Balti Snow Leopard [Nameless Towers & Climbers]
follows below is a brief version of Greg Mortenson’s story [for exact
story see the above link],
1960, Karim made a friend in the American climber Dick Emerson, who climbed
Masherbrum [7,821 meters]. Emerson returned 3 times to the Karakorams and
lived in Karim’s house in the village of Hushe.
Emerson needed a climbing partner, Karim [5 ft. 2 inches tall, 110 pounds]
at the age of 16 jumped, picked him on his shoulders and walked around the
1976, a Swiss expedition came to climb Yaholla Peak [7000+meters, an Urdukas
tower]. A female Swiss climber slipped into the Chapko Canyon. It was here
that Karim was to exhibit his legendary prowess as a human being and a
climber. As Mortensen wrote in his dispatches, “With one “Bismillah”
[in the name of Allah], he jumped in and saved her “. The Swiss then had
Karim carry no loads, doubled his pay. Karim basically only had to jump into
rivers, and carry the rope to lead the Swiss.
1978, Karim competed with 1800 porters for a job on the Chris Bonnington and
Doug Scott’s K2 West Ridge expedition. Bonington apparently laughed at
Karim, at which point Karim carried Bonington by the thighs and carried him
in front of the cheering porters. In the same year Karim went on the
American West Ridge K2 climb using Bonington’s and Emerson’s
credentials. Then came 1979 and the French used Karim to carry loads to
their high camps including 30 kgs to 8200 meters. In 1981 Karim carried gas,
food, oxygen to the Japanese and Nazir Sabir [Pakistani climber] to 8100
meters in 6 hours.
Karim”- King of the Karakoram” [see
dispatches by Greg Mortensen, www.mountainzone.com ]
1982, Karim contributed significantly to Reinhold Messner, Sher Khan, and
Nazir Sabir's successful climbs of Broad Peak (8,047 meters) and Gasherbrum
II (8,035 meters), by hauling several huge loads to the lower camp.
joined a Spanish K2 West Ridge expedition in 1983. He carried loads to Camp
IV at 7,600 meters. Two weeks of bad weather made most of the team decide to
leave K2. The leader, Antonio Trabado, was without a partner and asked Karim
for help, "You go to summit with me, no problem. We go alpine
8,350 meters on their summit bid, Trabado became psychotic. Karim recalls
the day, "He make crazy, he talk everything, and his eyes look like
yak. I carry him to Base Camp and he no die."
next year, in 1984, Karim helped Messner and Klinehander successfully
complete their five day alpine-style traverse of Gasherbrum I (8,068 meters)
and Gasherbrum II (8,035 meters). …”
…The stories go on, but it seems that a point can be made here. In a humble way, this small man from a tiny village has touched the lives and hearts of thousands of climbers and trekkers worldwide. Although he has been above 8,000 meters perhaps more than 20 times in his own backyard, his favorite moments are not summit days. What he
and gives him the greatest joy are the smiles and happy faces of satisfied
Karim has little to show for his career in the mountains. Often, he says he
is not paid or underpaid by his clients or travel agencies. Indeed, $8 to
$10 per day seems absurd for a chance to walk or climb with this King of the
the winter, his children sometimes go hungry, for lack of rupees and food.
He sells off precious land every year to pay for his subsistence lifestyle.
His youngest daughter, Zakhiria, is three years old. She is paralyzed in the
right arm and never received treatment or therapy for lack of funds. Yet,
Zakhira does not seem to mind and her huge smile echoes the spirit of famed
climber in the world deserves more respect than Little Karim. He brings the
highest ethics and honor to the sport called mountaineering. But my heart is
pained to see what he has received in return for his efforts. Certainly,
when Little Karim's time comes, his Allah Almighty will reward him a throne
more worthy and a summit higher than any mountain he has climbed.
next time, this is Greg Mortenson signing off from Little Karim's kitchen,
where paiyu cha (Balti salt tea) is now being served. “
Mortenson, MountainZone.com Correspondent
– Greg went to climb K2 in 1993 and has stayed back ever since,
establishing about 80 projects setting up schools, hospitals, in the
Karakoram area, with his base camp office “Central Asia Institute in
Skardu. He has overcome the skepticism of the ISI, the local mullahs and has
along with Geoff
[ Dr. Tabin is an University of Vermont opthamalogist ] helped
in the local eye care programs, tree
planting ecology , setting up porter latrines/ porter hygiene education
training for the Baltoro
women’s vocational training / school centers, men’s training
centers ,etc ] . Greg also feels that in comparison with the Nepal and
India’s Himalayan Mountain areas, the Karakorams is a much
neglected area for humanitarian aid projects.
for some excellent accounts of climbing eastern Karakorams Rock
Towers – in the Kondus valley, and Nangmah valleys, namely the Amin Brakk
Tower and the Satulpa Spire & Tahir Tower.
the link : http://classic.mountainzone.com/climbing/99/karakoram/
and in it http://classic.mountainzone.com/climbing/2000/forbidden/
- for many interesting /amusing dispatches and accounts of the rock-climbing
there as well as their interactions with the local flora /fauna and species
of the Team - Brady
Robinson, Steph Davis, Jimmy Chin, Dave Anderson
the Fathi Peak, which Chin did after consulting with Galen Rowell in 199,
this is what Chin had to say about the Fathi Peak: “The
first sight of Fathi Peak's ominous north wall overwhelmed them. "It
blew me away. El Capitan [Yosemite, Cal, USA] seemed like a boulder in
comparison," said Chen.
New Wave or Extreme Adventure – the Purist / Alpinist Climbers
an effort to pit human endurance against more strenuous targets, the
so-called “edge of the envelope”, climbers have begun to break new
ground and find more dangerous/difficult routes to the highest peaks.
Starting in the 1970s, among the mountain climbers, increasing emphasis was
placed on climbing these peaks in more daring
ways. The Alpinist or purist climbing is characterized with no oxygen, with
minimal equipment, with no satellite phones, climbing solo without porters,
finding the most difficult of routes to these peaks, and also climbing in
these new wave climbers who follow this purist /alpinist approach of
climbing without oxygen, solo and using the unclimbed formerly considered
dangerous approaches, the list is also growing. The outstanding names are
Reinhold Messner [Italian born in Brixen,
South Tyrol, Italy, on 17th September 1944. He grew up in the Villnöss
Valley in the Dolomites and later studied at the University of Padua.
Messner has crossed the Arctic and the Antarctica Poles solo and is
currently a member of the Greens Political party in Germany],
Peter Habeler [Reinhold’s climbing companion] , Gunther Messner [ who died
climbing Nanga Parbat with Reinhold’s brother ], Jerry Kukutza from Poland
. Other names that have erupted in the last two years include those of
Simone Moro, Tomas Hummer,
who pioneered the solo, oxygen-less climbs, has put his point of view very
well in a recent classic interview in the newspaper Guardian that carried a
series of interviews celebrating the Everest ascents of 1953. A few of his
words speak for themselves. Messner climbed Nanga Parbat solo using the
Diamir face [north]. As he was coming down, an earthquake triggered an
avalanche, which blocked his route down the same route. He descended using
another route. Messner’s climbing achievements are probably unmatchable
and legendary. He has gone on
to cross the North and South Pole solo. Nevertheless he speaks of
Shackleton’s failures as more important than successes. Messner’s
climb/traverse of Gasherbrum [Hidden Peak] I and II with Hans Kammerlander
is probably the most dangerous climb he rates. He fell into space and then
turned in midair to manage to land on steep rocks.
you're high on a mountain you cannot be anything but what you are.
…Mallory said he climbed Everest because it was there. I think we go up so
we can come back down again. … We are not made for it, this loneliness and
cold. When you come back you feel reborn, you have a new chance. The
experience is so strong you want to have it again and again, but you have to
suffer for it. It's addictive. … This is what I had got as a child, without even thinking: I
could find a good route, understand the weather quickly, know that this rock
is good, if this gully will go to the left. I had learnt the structure of
the mountain. …On Nanga Parbat I understood the reality of my own death. I
had not eaten or drunk anything for days, I was hallucinating, my toes were
black from frostbite and my brother was lost in the avalanche. …When I
lost seven of my toes on Nanga Parbat and small parts of my fingertips I
knew I'd never be a great rock climber. So I specialized in high-altitude
climbing. It's a totally different game… High-altitude climbing is about
suffering, it's about being afraid. I don't believe anyone who says there's
a lot of pleasure in climbing the biggest peaks. It's dangerous, especially
if there are no Sherpas or fixed ropes and camps. If you make one mistake,
you die. … I was elected an MEP for the Green Party. Politics and climbing
are exact opposites. But they're both games.
If the world's leaders could spend a few days climbing a mountain together,
then things would go better.”
|Copyright © 2000 - 2004 [the-south-asian.com]. Intellectual Property. All rights reserved.|