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Jun 15, 2013
By JAMAL SHAHID | dawn.com
ISLAMABAD: The climbing season has already started in Pakistan with mountaineers attempting not just the 8,000 metres plus peaks but also those seldom summated to set new records.
Austrian, French, British and Italian mountaineers started arriving in the country a week ago and some of them are on their way to try new challenges in the Karakorum Range.
The Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) said it was a good sign that more climbers and adventure seekers were heading towards Pakistan for unique as well as adventurous climbing experiences.
Mountains in the Karakorum Range are not just technically challenging but access to these high peaks is difficult compared to the neighbouring countries such as Nepal.
“In the 9/11 aftermath, climbers have been scared to head towards the Karakorum Range. Most of the foreigners confused the conflict in Swat valley with Gilgit-Baltistan,” said Karrar Haidri, the ACP’s member executive council, explaining how security and safety was the top most concern for tourists.
Nonetheless, two Austrian climbers were heading to the base of Masherbrum, 7,821 metres high, the 9th highest peak in Pakistan and the 22nd tallest in the world.
Masherbrum was first summated in 1938 and then in 1960. Austrian David Lama and Peter Ortner, known for their free ascent, who summated Trango Towers and Chogolisa in the Karakorum peaks, would be climbing Masherbrum through an unclimbed 3,800 metres high wall.
Austrian Hansjorg Auer and Swiss Simon Anthamatten had their eyes on the 7,400 Kunyang Chish East.
The pair would attempt to summit the peak in July after being acclimatised. There have been four attempts in the past but the mountain is yet to see its first ascent.
In one such attempt, Steve House and Vince Anderson had to abandon their summit push just 300 metres short from the top.
A French expedition, which reached Pakistan in May, is already getting acclimatised by climbing some 5,000 metres to 6,000 metres high peaks in the Hunza Valley.
The group made up of about eight climbers is preparing to summit the Passu Peak – 7,189 metres high – in the Hunza Valley. They planned to ski their way down after the summit.
The Alpine Club said three Spanish climbers – Alberto Inurragtegi, Juan Vallejo and Mikel Zabala – would be climbing the 6,610 metres tall Paijo Peak this summer.
They would be attempting a route, a kilometre high rock wall.
To date, Paiju peak, which means salt in the local language, has only been summated by Manzoor Hussain, the current president of the ACP, who led an expedition of renowned Pakistani mountaineers Nazir Sabir, Raja Bashir and an American climber Allen Steck in 1976.
The 6,109 metres high Uli Biaho Tower, also in the Karakorum Range, is on the list of six Italian climbers, including a photographer.
According to the ACP, the group is expected to arrive in the country on June 17.
One of their biggest challenges would be to overcome a 1,000 metres high rock wall.
British climbers Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman would be attempting to climb K6, which is 7,281 metre high, K7, 6,934 metres high and the 7,041 metres tall Link Sar in the Charakusa Valley home to numerous climbing options between 6,000 metres and 7,000 metres peaks.