First Ascent of Koh-e-Zamiston

Pakistan Youth Outreach (PYO), in collaboration with Karakorum Expeditions, proudly initiated national women winter expedition to an unnamed, unclimbed peak, for the first time in Pakistan’s mountaineering history. The National Women Winter Expedition was lead by the renowned and only female Mountaineer of Pakistan to summit Mt. Everest, Ms. Samina Baig.

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The expedition was initially planned to 6050m Peak in the Shimshal Pamir region, known as “Mingligh Sar”; however, due to some logistic issues the plan was changed and decided to ascend an unnamed and unclimbed peak in the Boisom pass in Gojrave, Shimshal Valley (Upper Hunza, GilgitBaltistan). The peak was never climbed in the past even in the summers, however expedition in the winters is quite challenging and harshest weather conditions and never attempted.

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This expedition was launched under the slogan of women empowerment, to encourage gender equality and unity amongst the youth/women across Pakistan. Women winter mountaineering is symbolic for breaking barriers and stereotypes that are prevalent for women in Pakistan, it is aimed to encourage young Pakistani women to pursue mountaineering as a career choice and embark on such challenging & unconventional outdoor sports endeavors.

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The expedition campaign was announced on social media and women from all over Pakistan were invited to participate, with the plan to select one representative from each area, Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, KPK, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. There were total four local girls finally selected from Pakistan and due to nature of the expedition to be one of its kind, two international women from USA and Norway also joined this historical event. International women participation enhanced cross culture understanding and unity and peace through outdoor sports, and showcased positive side of Pakistan around the world.

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The women winter expedition was first of its kind in Pakistan’s outdoor and mountaineering history, as before commencing the expedition there was a weeklong extensive basic mountaineering camp at Malangudi Glacier Shimshal. The purpose of training camp was to guide, educate and train the female participants for the expedition and to improve their technical and emotional skills before embarking them on such serious and extreme conditions.

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After the weeklong training, the team was all set to start the expedition to Mingligh Sar, however due to lack of availability of porters the plan was changed to next best available option of summit of an alternative unclimbed 5000m+ peak. At day first, starting from Shimshal village, after 5-6 hours continuous hike, the expedition’s first stop was at Zathgruben which is also world’s highest sports arena at 4,100m, and where the team acclimatized for a day. On the next day, the women team hiked to Vayn Sar Pass at 4,700m which was so far the highest point that any member of the women winter expedition team had ever summited.

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At Zathgruben, one of the member named Aafia Younis suffered knee injury due to which she had to decide to leave the expedition. On day third, the rest of the team started their journey in high spirits & best of the health to the base camp, which is at 4,446m, and stayed there for 3 days during which they hiked in the surrounding area for acclimatization. Finally the day arrived for departure to High Camp, which was setup in Boisam Pass at around 5,000m. Finally four members named Bismah, Komal, Siv and Samina were able to make it to the high camp as rest of the two members named Ariana and Sadaf had suffered health & altitude issues. The weather conditions at the high camp were very severe with cold air & temperatures in the range of -35C-40C.

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On the summit day, Samina Baig and Dr. Siv were fit to start the summit along with our high altitude guides Eid Muhammad, Gul Muhammad & Arshad Karim. Rest of the team had also suffered from altitude sickness. The 5 members summit push started at 9:30 am and in 6 hours at local time 18:30 pm, after continuous extreme vertical climb and combating harsh winter temperatures, Dr. Siv and Samina Baig had finally achieved the historical & momentous summit, which was recorded to be at a height of 5,600m.

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The previously extreme winter conditions, which is a proud moment in the history of Pakistan’s mountaineering. Mohammed Eid who is an experienced high altitude guide and had also been part of K2 expedition & climbed till Camp 3, mentioned it to be a very tough and technical peak and equivalent to K2 Black pyramid in technical difficulty. The women expedition team under extreme winter conditions finally conquered the previously unclimbed & highly technical peak, which is a proud moment in the history of Pakistan’s mountaineering. The peak is proposed to be named as Koh-e-Zamiston or ‘Winter Peak’, to mark it’s significance of first ever summit in winter.

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Under the leadership of Samina Baig, the women winter expedition has proved that there is a bright future for young Pakistani women in the field of mountaineering, and that they are capable of breaking barriers and setting new standards in this field. This expedition is just the beginning of many more successful endeavors to come, and Pakistan Youth Outreach along with Karakorum Expedition is working on such similar future expeditions/projects for women empowerment in the filed of mountaineering in Pakistan.

we want to extend our warmest thank you to #Toread for clothing equipment sponsorship for our expedition. we thank Langsetrope #ClimbingTechnology for their support. also our thank you to ArmaSkin Antiblister socks. Thank you to Modern oats for the nice breakfast for the high camp
Thank you to all Great cooking staff,high altitude guides,porters
#Karakorumexpeditions #firstAscent #Pakistanyouthoutreach #Toread #langserrope #Climbingtechnology #AntiblisterSocks #ArmaSkins

Nepal earthquake :Avalanche killed Sherpa

Dear World,

You may or may not have heard that there was a small(ish) 5.4 earthquake 19km or so from Namche Bazaar at around local time.

I would love to be able to say that everything is fine and that we are unscathed … but it is with a huge sense of grief and loss that I have to report that Thundu Sherpa has died.

Thundu and Ciaran were heading for the summit of Ama Dablam and were above Camp 3 making good progress when the earthquake occurred and caused them to be hit by some dislodged pieces of ice, both of them sustaining injuries.

Without going in to the details too much Ciaran was battered and bruised but sadly Thundu suffered a head injury that meant that he didn’t survive. They were climbing as a pair, a metre or so from each other and both of them were very unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Five minutes either way and it would have just been a close call.

Ciaran managed to raise the alarm by radio and we immediately called our agent in Kathmandu who mustered a helicopter.

Meanwhile Jon and Lakpa Onju, because of their respective localities at the time, arrived on the scene within an hour of the call and were able to assist as much as possible.

The helicopter arrived at Base Camp and then flew up to the site to assess what was going to be the best course of action. When the helicopter returned to Base Camp they stripped the doors off, emptied out any excess weight and got ready to perform a long line rescue operation. A crew member went up attached to the line and after some delicate manoeuvring at 6,300m was able to detach himself at the site and hook Ciaran on to the line. Ciaran was brought down to Base Camp where he was given some medical treatment for his various injuries and the helicopter returned back to the site to bring down the long line guy with Thundu. Jon and Lakpa Onju then made their way back down the mountain.

The people at Base Camp (both staff and group members alike) worked in an exemplary manner. Some volunteered to go up to Camp 1 and Camp 2 to be in place for other duties that needed tending to. There were people monitoring the radio stations, taking notes to keep a record of events, making tea and coffee for the helicopter crew, administering first aid and generally working together as a team. Suffice to say that now the dust has settled everyone is in a deep sense of shock and saddened by our loss.

Thundu leaves behind a wife and 2 boys, aged 8 and 14, who live in Kathmandu. Whilst there is a modicum of insurance available for the family it won’t get the children through the rest of their schooling. To that end I am putting out an appeal for donations, however small, so that the family can rest assured that they aren’t going to face financial hardship. If you are able to help then please go to and mark your donation ‘For Thundu.’

On a final note – I would prefer not to receive any comments to the effect that a Climbing Sherpa has died whilst Westerners are pursuing their dreams. Ama Dablam is a climbers mountain and all the people in my team are suitably well qualified by experience to be here. The Climbing Sherpas are not being used and abused in the duties that they perform, they are proud of the work that they do and have worked for my Sirdar for many many years forming a close knit team. This was a tragic accident as a result of an act of nature. We are surrounded by an amazing panorama of massive mountains and when the earthquake happened there weren’t multiple avalanches and landslides. There was one incident … and our team were sadly involved.

Thundu Sherpa … you will be sadly missed. May you rest in peace.

'Thundu on the summit of Cho Oyu 6 weeks ago.'
'R.I.P Thundu. You were one of a kind.'

British Blogger: The only danger after travelling to Pakistan is not wanting to leave

Pakistan is a land of vibrant local cultures and breathtaking sceneries. While there may be a lack of tourism in the past couple of years, some soulful adventurers find Pakistan to be fascinating and have written blogs about their exciting trips.

Many tourists fell in love with the Pakistani culture and natural beauty, and yes some of them have visited Pakistan more than once!

British adventurer, photographer, and blogger Will Hatton is in awe of the beauty of Pakistan. He has visited Pakistan and shared his amazing experience here on his blog ‘The Broke Backpacker’.

Will Hatton be an audacious and fun loving traveler chose to lead a different life, unlike most tourists, he is a backpacker. He travels across countries with nothing more than a backpack filled with necessary clothing, his electronics, and a few bucks.

Recently, Will traveled to Pakistan and after skimming through Lahore and Islamabad, he headed towards north to explore his ultimate love – mountains.

Describing his intentions to visit Pakistan, Will writes that sadly the European media has always portrayed Pakistan as a dump, home of terrorists and hell on earth. However, his Pakistani friends back at home exhibited just the opposite conduct. That’s why he decided to find out the truth about Pakistan and show to the world what a gem Pakistan really is.

In an interview to Jovago, the adventurer was asked to describe Pakistan in three words to which he responded:

Illuminating, unforgettable, totally god-damn unique.

Talking about Pakistani people, he writes in his blog that Pakistanis are the most fun-loving and hospitable people he has ever come across. Pakistanis can’t help but take care of their guests and get them addicted to tea.

Wherever I went, I was greeted by friendly faces and incredibly helpful people… The Pakistani people are very generous and you will be plied with ridiculous amounts of free food and chai.


Little does Will know Pakistanis, as Muslims, feel honored taking care of their guests and believe that guests bring ‘barkat’ to a home. (Dictionaries translate ‘barkat’ to blessing, but really there is no word that truly captures the essence of this concept).

Even after being fed with limitless tea, Will tells his favorite Pakistani cuisine to be lassi. “I’m a sucker for lassis.” Maybe Will has some Punjabi blood in him. After all his favorite city of Pakistan is Lahore, even though he spent most of his time in the north. He talks about Lahore in his blog;

The Paris of Pakistan: Lahore is one of my favorite cities in the world. The colors, the sounds, the smells, the vibrant-in-your-face-ness of it all is best experienced on the back of a motorbike; make friends with some locals and get them to show you around!

Will Hatton, the traveler and photographer, loves Pakistan for its opportunities of nearly every type of adventure. From rocky mountains to snowy peaks to stormy desserts, Pakistan offers everything to her lovers. He said

This is a land of towering peaks and colorful traditions, of ancient fortresses and friendly people. I’m a bit of a history buff and Pakistan is simply heaving with fascinating historical sites as well as some of the best trekking in the world.

Traveling in Pakistan is very cheap and fun according to Will and that’s make traveling on the budget really easy. Financing in Pakistan is super easy for foreigners as:

Pakistanis are so damn hospitable that it’s hard to pay for anything

The mountains and northern beauty of Pakistan cast a spell on Will. He started with Gilgit and made his way to the Fairy Meadows. He narrated his experience that some of the police officers there are friendly enough to guide your tour.

He then explored the ‘jewel of Hunza’, Karimabad where he was stunned by the Baltit fort. Moving further he discovered the fascinating glaciers at Gulkin and the bluest lake in the world – the Abbottabad lake.

He visited the highest border – Khunjerab pass, Skardu, up to the base camp of K2. He also made it to Chitral and enjoyed among the people of Kalash and their colorful festivals.

Throughout his trip, Will was amazed by the beauty of the country and the hospitality of people. He holds that Pakistan is nothing like as depicted in the media. Women are also deeply respected and many people come forward to help in case of a problem.

Pakistan is one of the safest countries I have ever visited and is packed with friendly and inquisitive individuals who are always happy to meet a backpacker. The extremely helpful army and the sometimes helpful police will always keep an eye out for foreigners and they are absolutely everywhere.

Will describes himself as an on-road writer and photographer. His experiences have also made him a “part-time farmer, full-time charmer.” Who is always down for a good mountain or a cheesecake.

This guy has been traveling since 9 years on an extreme budget and in these years he has tried to learn the meaning of life and enjoy it to the fullest. Although he is from the UK, but is hardly ever in Europe. Instead, he has traveled more than seventy countries, all on a budget.

He manages to finance his trips by his famous travel blog ‘The Broke Backpacker’ but mostly he does odd jobs like farming during traveling. Will usually travels via hitch-hiking in a country making friends along the way.

Will Hatton travels to engage with new people. In his opinion, travel gives him an opportunity to meet new people from different cultures and reinvent himself. Every time he meets a new person, he tries to become a happier, friendlier and more exciting version of himself.

Travelers like Will Hatton are trying to bring the bright side of Pakistan, highlighting it to the world what an incredible country Pakistan really is. Pakistan may her issues but Pakistanis make sure their guests have the best possible experience.


British alpinists climb a virgin north face to 7000-meter summit in Tibet

Derek Franz

British climbers Nick Bullock and Paul Ramsden took full advantage of a rare permit in Tibet by climbing a new route—The North Buttress (ED+ 1600m)—in alpine style to the summit of Nyainqentangla South East (7046m) on October 2-8. This may be the first time the South East summit has seen footprints.

Topo of Nick Bullock and Paul Ramsden's North Buttress route (ED+ 1600m) on Nyainqentangla South East. Their descent on the east ridge is marked in green. [Photo] Nick BullockTopo of Nick Bullock and Paul Ramsden’s North Buttress route (ED+ 1600m) on Nyainqentangla South East. Their descent on the east ridge is marked in green. [Photo] Nick Bullock

“These mountains are very rarely visited,” Ramsden said. “Initially you have the difficulty of getting a permit. Next you have the bad weather, which meant that until recently there were very few pictures showing the potential of the area. As far as I can tell from the Alpine Club’s Himalayan index, the main summit has seen a couple of ascents and the central summit has seen one ascent, but until our visit the South East summit was unclimbed.

Bullock scopes the line [Photo] Paul RamsdenBullock scopes the line [Photo] Paul Ramsden

Their North Buttress route takes the central line on a steep, triangular face of rock and ice that led to an arete and the summit. The men spent five days climbing to the top and two days descending by another route off the mountain’s east ridge, which turned into a risky ordeal.

Bullock wrote of their first sighting on the approach: “The mystery face opened, it was dramatic, triangular, overhanging, a wonder… The charge between Paul and myself crackled. This face, this unclimbed face on an unclimbed mountain was almost impossible to describe without using superlatives. It was a dream, it had runnels, ice, fields of snow, aretes—the face twisted and turned in some warped massive monster Matterhorn way and we fathomed, from our position, that the climbing started at 5400 meters and the summit was a reported 7046 meters, making the face a mouth-puckering 1600 meters. Paul and I stood and weaved imagined lines; we didn’t need to look any farther for our objective.

“The weather in the range was complicated,” Bullock continued in his blog. “Most days had sun, rain, snow, wind, sleet, cloud, storm, hail. No day was the same and mostly the weather of the moment only lasted for a little while before some other form of meteorological bruising took over. This climb was not going to be one of those wait-for-a-perfect five-day forecast, which was OK, because we had absolutely no form of contact from which to get one, we were on our own. This climb was going to be a get-involved and sit out the not-so-desirable [weather] until it hopefully passed.”

The men took five days to acclimatize and wait out some bad weather. They started up and had to retreat from more bad weather, leaving the gear cached for their return a day later.

Ramsden climbing on day one. [Photo] Nick BullockRamsden climbing on day one. [Photo] Nick Bullock

Their first night was spent in an open bivy, and the hardest climbing came on the second day. Bullock wrote: “I pulled from the top of what first appeared to be an ice romp but what was in fact one of the harder pitches, which turned into a rotten, overhanging, lung straining, gut busting [pitch]. Paul joined me looking a tad haggard for a Yorky and agreed we needed to bivy.”

Bullock approaches the steep stuff on day two. [Photo] Paul RamsdenBullock approaches the steep stuff on day two. [Photo] Paul Ramsden

Bullock leading on day two, in which the climbers encountered the hardest pitches of the route. [Photo] Paul RamsdenBullock leading on day two, in which the climbers encountered the hardest pitches of the route. [Photo] Paul Ramsden

The good weather turned poor again on the third day, with sleet, hail and gusting wind. They reached the summit in sunshine, which enticed them to abandon their plan of descending by the way they came up, going down instead by the east ridge.

“Setting off, almost immediately on cue, the clouds chose to wrap us in our dreams, but somehow, like a homing pigeon, Paul led across ridges and down and around dubious snow-slopes stopping whenever the cloud turned pea-souper,” Bullock wrote. “The cloud became even thicker, the snow whiter, the angle and territory more dangerous and after falling into three bergschrunds, we stopped and set up the tent in one of the holes found by Paul himself…. Soon after dark it began to snow, and snow and snow some more. I lay, not sleeping at all, while admonishing myself for not forcing the issue and abseiling the line we had climbed. Now we were stuck somewhere teetering on a ridge above 6500 meters in a dump of snow with limited food and limited knowledge how to get off. What were we thinking? We had climbed the line, we had our prize, this was just the way off, it didn’t matter, it was a fucking way off, that’s all and it was going to kill us. Day six, and it’s still snowing and whiteout. We would have to stay put, but by 9 a.m. the winds abated, the snow stopped and we launched, well, we teetered and staggered. I couldn’t help but voice concerns about the amount of snow hat had fallen through the night but what were we to do, sit there and hope for some kind of none-avalanche terrain miracle?”

Ramsden was happy with his tent and hammock. [Photo] Nick BullockRamsden was happy with his tent and hammock. [Photo] Nick Bullock

The team ended up descending another valley to avoid a “mess of glacial holes and lines” that would have been the more direct route to basecamp. “Day seven was a long arduous day following no path, just a jumble of moraine and a river, which after seven or eight hours popped us back into some form of reality near the village and house from [where] we started and the house where our Tibetan liaison officer was staying,” Bullock wrote. Ramsden eventually returned with some helpers to pack up the camp they left below the mountain.

Nearing the summit on day five. [Photo] Nick BullockNearing the summit on day five. [Photo] Nick Bullock

“Seven thousand meters hurts!” Bullock joked in the aftermath of the climb.

The men may have never conjured the idea of climbing there if they hadn’t come across a series of photographs.

“The main reason we went was because of pictures from the north side supplied by Tom Nakamura, the famous Tibetan explorer and chronicler,” Ramsden said. “They showed a very big face waiting to be climbed. The next stage was getting the permit. Mick Fowler and I have been applying for Tibetan permits since our last visit in 2008 to no avail. For some unknown reason this year they said yes!”

Bullock was also surprised.

“Paul has been to Tibet before, so he had a little knowledge of the procedures, but it’s so difficult to get permission we never thought it would happen,” he said.

Ramsden and Bullock on the summit. [Photo] Nick BullockRamsden and Bullock on the summit. [Photo] Nick Bullock

If you were to ask Ramsden about his “North Buttress” route, you’d have to be more specific, as there are several routes on his resume by that name. “Paul is typically stuck in his ways and several climbs he has completed over the last several years have all been called The North Buttress!” Bullock said. “We did think to call it ‘Ard,’ said in a Yorkshire accent, but as I’m from Staffordshire we didn’t think that would work!”

“That’s really a bit of a private joke,” Ramsden said. “I like mixed and ice routes, so I always climb on the north side. I also like objectively safe routes, so they are usually buttresses. As a result nearly every new route I have climbed has been called the ‘North Buttress!'”

While Bullock and Ramsden were climbing Nyainqentangla, Mick Fowler and Victor Saunders succeeded in summiting the previously unclimbed North Buttress of Sersank (6100m) in the Indian Himalaya. It was reportedly the renowned duo’s first time climbing together after thirty years apart.

Nyainqentangla South East (7046m). [Photo] Nick Bullock

Nyainqentangla South East (7046m). [Photo] Nick Bullock

Original source:

11 Awesome Benefits Of Rock Climbing, And 1 Very Important One

You rarely see a fat climber.

I don’t know if this is because they’ve tried to do it but found they can’t, or it’s because climbing makes you lose weight rapidly, but you rarely see an overweight person climbing up a wall, do you?

There are a whole lot of benefits to rock climbing as a hobby, and once my knee has fully healed, I’ll certainly be starting this sport more seriously. It’s such a fun thing to do, and learning about the health benefits, as well as the psychological and emotional ones too, you’ll want to start doing it too.

Rock climbing can be described as any situation where you’re ‘climbing’ up a rock. It could be at a climbing gym, a mountain side or a natural rock climbing location, or a ‘bouldering’ spot which is rock climbing, only it’s done sideways as opposed to climbing up. (It’s more focused on low to the ground movements). Anyway, let’s move on.

rock climbing benefits,rock climber,climber with helmet,

Some benefits of rock climbing

There are many benefits of this sport, but they’re not all physical.

Some of the perks are actually emotional and psychological. I’ll explain them all so you can get a better understanding of why rock climbing is so good for you.

Physical benefits of rock climbing

Rock climbing is a difficult sport.

You’re required to use your strength to cling to the wall and often times you are holding most of your muscles in a static hold, constantly tensed. You should aim to be as relaxed as possible to get better at climbing, but sometimes you can’t and it’s very hard work. This is a good thing.

Here are some notable physical benefits..

  1. Stronger arms. Your arms will become stronger the more you climb, this is because your arms are used to traverse the climbing wall or face. Your grip strength will increase dramatically after just a few weeks of climbing.
  2. Shoulders. Of course your shoulders are part of your arms, but the strength you’ll gain in your shoulders is important. You’ll develop nice toned shoulders, as this muscle group is used to keep you stable on the wall.
  3. Thigh muscles. Your legs will become more toned, although this isn’t one of the main muscles that will become stronger. Your legs are used to push you up fro leg holds and further up the wall, but it’s not a ‘very strenuous’ workout for them.
  4. Back and neck. Your neck will develop stronger muscle groups around it because you’re always looking around you and up and down as you climb. The nature of the sport also means your back gets  nice workout too!
  5. Forearms. I had to mention this one, because I love this muscle! Forearms, specially on a man look great when they’re toned, and your strength here will increase a LOT.
  6. Cardio. Because it’s a low impact cardio exercise, your breathing and heart rate will improve as well as your stamina etc..

And every other muscle group (pretty much).

It’s a full body workout and can improve your strength, endurance and speed in most muscle groups on your body. The nature of the exercise forces you to use your entire body to climb the wall, not just your upper body. Many people think it’s just about having strength in your arms, but it’s not.

You don’t usually see a monkey climb with arms bent as if it’s doing a pullup, do you? They have straight arms because they know the most efficient way to climb is with straight arms and by using their whole body. they use momentum, legs and their core muscles to swing and propel themselves higher.

climbing monkey,rock climbing benefits

Oh, there are more benefits by the way..

Psychological/emotional benefits of rock climbing

Climbing is a full body workout, meaning your head as well.

It doesn’t just keep your muscles fit, but it also stimulates and improves your cognitive ability, problem solving, confidence etc. Let’s look at the mental benefits of rock climbing.

  1. Goal setting. To climb rocks you must set goals and move towards them. We’ve already talked about why that’s important in life.
  2. Being aware of yourself. It requires you to be more aware of the space around you, and how you’re moving your body through it.
  3. Relieve Stress. When you’re climbing, nothing else matters. It’s much the same effect that skydiving has on you, because you’re so focused on the moment and what you’re doing right now, you don’t have time to worry about things like work or bills. It’s an antistress device!
  4. Confidence. If you can climb up a mountain, you can do anything. Things that seemed like a big deal before, (public speaking, confrontation, job interviews) now don’t seem hardly as daunting.
  5. Perseverance. When you’re climbing you always want to get to the top, and you’ll keep trying to get there. That’s what makes it such a good sport because it teaches you life skills as well as giving you a workout.

There are a whole lot more benefits to rock climbing, but I’m just covering a few here. It’s sort of an introduction to the sport if you didn’t know about the benefits, and I’ll probably do a few more posts about the sport when I get back into it in the coming weeks. Oh, I almost forgot.

This is probably my favorite part about rock climbing (Apart from getting thick, strong forearms!)..

The very important reason! -It’s YOU vs YOURSELF..

Just like in other areas of life, often it’s just you vs yourself.

You’re the one who normally holds you back in most things, and learning that through rock climbing will show you that in other aspects of life, you can often remove limitations by just stepping outside of them.

I know that sounds like a weird idea, but stick around on the blog for long enough and you’ll understand what I’m trying to say here. The point is, rock climbing is about you challenging and pushing yourself, so it makes you stop thinking about competing and getting approval for others (Unless of course, you’re actually competing in a rock climbing competition!).

It pushes you and makes you want to achieve more, and that’s a skill that’s useful not only on the climbing wall, but in every aspect of your life.


Rescuers Search for American Climbers Missing on Pakistan Mountain

They were last seen almost two weeks ago

Helicopters began searching on Saturday for two Americans who went missing while attempting to climb one of Pakistan’s highest peaks.


Kyle Dempster, 33, and Scott Adamson, 34, began climbing the north face of Ogre II, near the Choktoi Glacier in northern Pakistan, on Aug. 21, according to a GoFundMe page established to support their rescue. The men, both from Utah, were last seen on Aug. 22, a day before a snow storm hit the mountain. Dempster and Adamson had originally planned on spending five days climbing and descending the mountain.

The search-and-rescue effort began on Sunday, but stormy weather made it impossible for Pakistani military helicopters to join the search until Saturday, CNN reported, citing a family spokesperson.

A U.S.-based rescue group also planned to send two helicopters to help with the search, NBC News reported.

The pair had tried climbing the same peak last year, but ended the trip after Adamson fell and broke his leg, according to CNN.

Source: TIME

Pakistan has more glaciers than almost anywhere on Earth. But they are at risk.

With its neat stone walls and paths, bountiful tomato and wheat fields and miniature sheep that graze right up to doorsteps, this picturesque village has an air of timelessness. But the 110 families who live here only have to glance out their doors to see that their irrigated idyll may not last forever.

For generations, the glacier clinging to Miragram Mountain, a peak that towers above the village, has served as a reservoir for locals and powered myriad streams throughout Pakistan’s scenic Chitral Valley. Now, though, the villagers say that their glacier — and their way of life — is in retreat.

“We worry it may even vanish and there will be no drinking water,” said Abdul Nasir, 60, pointing up at the 19,000-foot mountaintop streaked with thin, patchy snow. “Every year, it’s melting.”

With 7,253 known glaciers, including 543 in the Chitral Valley, there is more glacial ice in Pakistan than anywhere on Earth outside the polar regions, according to various studies. Those glaciers feed rivers that account for about 75 percent of the stored-water supply in the country of at least 180 million.

But as in many other parts of the world, researchers say, Pakistan’s glaciers are receding, especially those at lower elevations, including here in the Hindu Kush mountain range in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Among the causes cited by scientists: diminished snowfall, higher temperatures, heavier summer rainstorms and rampant deforestation.

To many, the 1,000-square-mile Chitral Valley has become a case study of what could await the rest of the world if climate change accelerates, turning life-supporting mountains into new markers of human misery.

“It’s already happening here, and my thinking is, in the coming years it will just go from bad to worse,” said Bashir Ahmed Wani, a Pakistani forestry specialist with the Asian Development Bank.

Over the past six years, the Chitral Valley has also experienced three major floods that many Pakistani scientists attribute to climate change. The floodwaters killed more than 50 people and stranded hundreds of thousands while undercutting a once-vibrant tourist industry still struggling to rebound after Sept. 11, 2001.

While climate change is a factor in the region’s calamities, the valley has also come to symbolize the way a poorly educated populace can make the situation worse, creating a cycle of hardship. Its glaciers offer a stark example.

The valley’s population has soared — from 106,000 in 1950 to 600,000 today — and most residents get just two to four hours of electricity a day. Without reliable refrigeration, residents turn to vendors hawking chunks of the valley’s shrinking snowpack.

Every day, they say, scores of these entrepreneurs drive five to seven hours to the mountain peaks, where they hack into the glaciers — or scoop up the pre-glacial snow — and load the haul into their jeeps and trucks. Back in the valley, they shovel the snow and ice into shopping bags and sell it for 50 cents a bag.

“There are no fans, no refrigerators working, so I will store this for cooler water and then use it for drinking,” said Ubaid Ureh, 46, as he held two dripping bags.

Hameed Ahmed Mir, a local biodiversity expert who has worked for the United Nations, said that one cubic yard of ice weighs almost a ton — enough to supply four to seven families with drinking water for several days — and one vehicle can carry three to four tons of snow or ice. “Then multiply that by 200 vehicles per day.”

Khalil Ahmed, a former project manager for the U.N.-supported Glacial Lake Outburst Floods Project, said Pakistani law does not make it clear whether the government or the public owns the country’s vast glacial reservoirs.

“We are trying to initiate a dialogue with the local people, but these are poor people,” he said, noting that glaciers in the neighboring territory of Gilgit-Baltistan are also being sold off.

Ghulam Rasul, head of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, said the country’s weather patterns have shifted dramatically over the past two decades.

When 30-year temperature averages from 1961 to 1990 are compared with those from 1981 to 2010, temperatures in the northern third of Pakistan, where the glaciers are located, increased by 1.2 degrees Celsius, Rasul said.

Summer snow lines on Pakistan’s mountains have also crept up an average of 3,395 feet since 1981, he added. And the number of glacial lakes — which form when melting ice gets locked up in or around a glacier — has jumped from 2,420 a decade ago to 3,044 today, according to a recent study.

[Life in a Pakistani village so remote, kings once banished prisoners to it]

Equally alarming, Rasul said, the annual South Asia monsoon is growing more dynamic as temperatures spike over land and clash with cooler ocean waters. Now, instead of the late summer monsoon affecting mainly southern and eastern Pakistan, it has also been pumping deluges over the mountains.

“I believe this is an impact of global warming,” Rasul said. “If this continues, the glaciers will be melting at a fast rate, producing glacial lakes — and the lakes will burst,” triggering disasters.

The weather changes have not seriously threatened the ice packs in Pakistan’s northernmost regions, where five of the world’s 14 highest peaks — all topping 26,000 feet — are located.

Nizam Uddim, about 52, points to the site of the house that he lost, along with his 4-year-old daughter, during flash floods in the Chitral Valley village of Reshun last year. (Insiya Syed /For The Washington Post)

Some researchers think that the glaciers in the Karakorum and Himalayan mountains in Gilgit-Baltistan may even expand as weather patterns shift and more precipitation falls over the highest peaks as snow. Many of Pakistan’s glaciers are also covered in silt and debris, which helps insulate them.

But farther south in the Chitral Valley, where most mountains are no higher than 22,000 feet, there is little doubt that the glaciers are under stress, researchers say.

In the village of Reshun last July, a 20-foot wall of water crashed over 126 houses and killed a 4-year-old girl “on a very hot day,” said Azmat, 19, who uses only one name.

“We resided here for at least the last 200 years, and we never faced any kind of flood like this,” said the girl’s father, Nizam Uddim, who estimates that he is 52.

Siraj ul-Mulk, the 71-year-old owner of the Hindu Kush Heights Hotel in Chitral, has been trekking in a different part of northern Chitral since he was a young man.

“It used to take me a whole day to cross the glacier,” he said. “Now, it will take me two hours.”

But just as in the broader global debate over climate change, some Pakistani researchers remain skeptical that warmer weather is causing Chitral’s glaciers to melt.

Arshad Abbasi, a water and energy expert, said Pakistanis alone are responsible for their plight.

He noted that tree roots stabilize the ground that the glaciers bind to — and that Pakistan has retained just 2 to 5 percent of its tree cover. Even worse, he said, goat herders, tourists and even the country’s army are allowed to trek over them.

“People say global warming, but in fact, it’s human activity” that most threatens the glaciers, said Abbasi, who has studied the effect of Pakistani and Indian military encampments on the shrinking Siachen Glacier in the Himalayan range near the disputed Kashmir region.

Local activists agree that lax environmental standards are magnifying the danger. Inayatullah Faizi, an expert on local culture, noted that much of Chitral’s garbage and sewage is dumped directly into streams and the Chitral River — another reason residents buy snow from the glacier.

Aisha Khan, head of the Islamabad-based Mountain and Glacier Protection Organization, said a huge conservation campaign is needed to combat public ignorance. She noted that many mountain-area families still try to make glaciers grow by “fertilizing them,” cutting ice from a dark, debris-clogged glacier (male) and setting it next to a clear one (female).

Still, there are signs that younger Pakistanis, even in remote places, are realizing what is at stake.

Beekeepers collect honey last month from hives they have set up by a roadside in the Chitral Valley. (Insiya Syed /For The Washington Post)

In Sonoghur, a small village north of Miragram that was devastated by a glacial lake flood in 2007, a middle-aged man began telling a reporter that India and Israel are responsible for glaciers melting because they don’t want overwhelmingly Muslim Pakistan “to grow and prosper.”

But Amir Shahzaib, 17, spoke up.

“We don’t believe that, and our new generation wants to take care of the earth,” he said, adding that he and his friends were trying to get older residents to stop throwing plastic bottles in waterways.

They can’t do it all, he added.

“We are just partly responsible for climate change,” Shahzaib said of his village. “Mostly, the city people are responsible.”

Aamir Iqbal in Peshawar contributed to this report.

Source: Washington Post

Nepal bans Pune police couple for 10 years over ‘fake’ Everest claims

Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod, both serving constables with Pune police, announced they scaled Everest on May 23, becoming the first Indian couple to do so.

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THE Nepal government has imposed a 10-year ban on a police couple from Pune who had allegedly bluffed about scaling Mount Everest on May 23. Nepal officials have told Pune police a letter has been sent to inform them of the decision to bar the couple from entering Nepal for that period, Pune police commissioner Rashmi Shukla told The Indian Express Sunday.

“This means the probe ordered by Nepal government has confirmed the two had lied about scaling Everest… This is indeed shocking. The couple have tarnished the image not only of police force but of the whole country,” Shukla said.

Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod, both 30 and serving constables with Pune police, held a press meet in Kathmandu on June 5 and announced they scaled Everest on May 23, becoming the first Indian couple to do so. The two are posted at Shivajinagar headquarters of Pune city police.

Shukhla said she will initiate “strong” action against the couple. Asked if they can be arrested, she said the action will be as per laid-down norms.

She said the couple have been absconding since the Pune police initiated a departmental inquiry against them. “The two have disappeared without a trace even as we were conducting the inquiry,” she said.

Senior officials added the couple might not be arrested, but could face demotion or have their annual increments stopped. Officials said by remaining out of bounds for the probe, the couple have “already confirmed they had done something wrong”.

Days after the couple’s press briefing, a group of mountaineers had approached Pune police alleging they had faked their expedition. Surendra Shelke, one of the complainants and secretary of a city-based mountaineering association, had alleged the couple had morphed pictures and there were discrepancies in their description of the summit. The Pune police probe followed.

A mountaineer from Kolkata had told this paper that he and another climber had scaled Everest on May 21 and their pictures were misused by the duo. “I had scaled Mt Everest along with another climber and two sherpas on May 21,” Satyrup Siddhantha, a software engineer working in Bangalore, had said. He said he had given his pictures to some people, including sherpas at the base camp.

“They had copied the pictures into their pen drives. They might have shared the pictures with other climbers,” he said. Siddhantha had uploaded his pictures onFacebook on June 2.