LAHORE – Pakistan is the home to five out of 14 mountains in the world, which are more than 8,000 metres high above sea level.
Among these mountains is the mighty Nanga Parbat that has a height of 8,126 meters, second highest of Pakistan and ninth highest in the world.
This grand collection of different ridges is known as “Killer Mountain” among the climbers.
It got this name because 31 climbers died while tryinh first ascended in 1953.
Ali Sadpara of Pakistan is one of a handful of mountaineers who climbed it recently.
Most of the people came to know about him after he became a member of the first expedition team to summit this “Man Eater” mountain in winters.
Ali Sadpara from Sadpara village of Skardu told The Nation he started climbing as a porter at Boltoro Glacier from 2000 to 2002.
“I went there to see my friends who were working as porters.
I loved climbing and started working as a porter.
After two years I got a job as a high altitude porter to K-2 in 2004.
I just love these mountains.
They give me a sense of peace and tranquility,” he added.
He said he had climbed four out of the five highest mountains of Pakistan.
“I climbed G-1 in 2010, G-2 twice, ascended Nanga Parbat in 2008 and 2009, and was among the team that climbed Broad Peak.
“On April 2, I am going to Nepal for expeditions of Makalu and Manaslu mountains which are eighth and fifth highest mountains of the world.
People ask me why I do this.
I simply say that without it I cannot live,” Ali explained.
On the query about how Nanga Parbat is different from other mountains, he said apparently it seems to be an easy climb.
“Another aspect is that there is very less study on the “Killer Mountain” and lack of study makes it more dangerous as it has steep climbs especially near its top where the layers of rock and ice make it difficult to climb.
“In winter it becomes more icy than snowy.
The weather becomes more dangerous due to its ridges and hanging glaciers kill mountaineers on the spot,” he added.
“Me, Alex Txikon, Daniele Nardi and our other team members have been studying this mountain for the last two to three years.
The key is patience, you have to understand the mood of it and secondly, learn from your mistakes as we did.
We did not repeat the mistakes which we did last year.
Last time we left for summit at 3am, this year we left at 6am.
This year we set up our camp 100 to 150 metres on higher ground,” Ali said.
About the future of climbing in Pakistan, Ali said it was bleak.
“There are few like me, Hassan Sadpara and Samina Baig.
We are 10 to 12 high-altitude climbers in Pakistan and after us, there is no one,” he replied with melancholy.
“It is because of Alpine Club of Pakistan and lack of interest on part of our government that has done nothing for promotion of climbing among the youth of this country.
“Unfortunately, there are no young climbers.
I have requested the government and I want to deliver my message through media that our youth has immense potential, we even get sponsorships, I just want the Alpine Club and the government to establish and train a Pakistani team of climbers, “the climber pleaded.
“The Nepali Sherpas have captured our whole climbing industry because they are more professional and good climbers,” he added.
“The government has to take emergency steps for climbing industry or else we will have only mountains but no mountain climbers.
“The climbers who summit these mountains take photos of their countries’ flags and sponsors on top and as a Pakistani sometimes I cannot do it because I have not been sponsored.
In this ascent I got the time to take a photo with Pakistani flag and I cannot even explain the proud feeling which I had at that moment,” he said.
“With other foreign teams, we do all the hard work mostly, like placing the rope for climbers but do not get credit because we don’t have government backing,” he added.
Published in The Nation newspaper on 18-Mar-2016