Pak flag flies high on Mount Everest
May 20, 2011
The dream of setting foot on Mount Everest and hoisting the national flag there is remarkably global. Since May 29, 1953 when the Everest was first scaled by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay Sherpa, over 3000 climbers of all age groups and gender on one or more occasions have climbed the famous mountain.
Usually in May at the peak of climbing season, Mount Everest makes world news -- either for the number of climbers going for the summit, or for those who die trying. This time also the Everest has made news in Pakistan. At 6:00am on Thursday morning (May 12), Pakistan’s national flag was unfurled and hoisted at 29,028 ft (8,840 m) on top of Sagarmatha (Nepalese name for Everest which means goddess of the sky). This feat was accomplished by none other than the son of Gilgit, Hassan Sadpara, who successfully scaled the world’s highest mountain.
The highest mountain on the planet, Mount Everest is growing two inches taller each year. Satellite technology says the mountain is currently 29,107 feet tall. First recognized as the highest peek in 1852, it got its western name 1o years later in 1862. Mount Everest was named for Sir George Everest (1790-1866), a British surveyor. Surveyors don't agree on the height of Mount Everest. The British government in the 1800's thought the height was 29,002 feet. In 1954 the Indian government said it’s 29,028 feet, but a widely used unofficial figure says it is 29,141 feet!
Sadpara, part of the four-member “Pakistan Everest Expedition – 2011” squad, reached the summit without any oxygen supply, making his achievement even more courageous than that of Nazir Sabir. According to reports coming from Nepal, Sadpara reached the peak from the base camp in three days after taking the south route for the ascent. The mountaineer made it to the summit alone as his members remained at the base camp, waiting and praying for his safe return.
Hassan Satpara hailing from Satpara, Skardu started his climbing career as a professional mountaineer in 1999 and started climbing in the company of the visiting foreign expeditions and has since climbed Nanga Parbat (8125 m) on 2nd July 1999, K-2 (8611 m) on 27th July 2004, Gasherbrum II (8035 m) on 22nd July 2006 and Gasherbrum I (8068 m) on 29th July 2006 (making a history in Pakistani mountaineering). In 2007, he climbed Broad Peak (8047 m) thus becoming the second Pakistani to have the honour of climbing all five peaks of Pakistani Peaks rising above 8000 metres.
On the recommendations of the Alpine Club of Pakistan he was awarded President’s Pride of Performance Medal by Government of Pakistan in 2008. In January 2009 President Asif Ali Zardari, during a meeting with Hassan Sadpara at Aiwan-e-Sadr, directed that the Government of Pakistan must provide funds for the launching of Pakistan Expedition to Mt Everest providing an opportunity to climb Mt Everest. The Alpine Club of Pakistan therefore organised Pakistan Everest Expedition -2011 within the funds provided by Ministry of Tourism.
The “Pakistan Everest Expedition – 2011” squad comprised Vice President of Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) Muhammad Ali Changezi, who is also the expedition leader, Assistant Manager and support member Ghulam Muhammad Faisal and climbers Hassan Sadpara and his younger, Muhammad Sadiq. The squad left for Mount Everest base camp on April 3 and is expected to return on June 3.
“Pakistan Everest Expedition – 2011” squad comprised Vice President of Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) Muhammad Ali Changezi, who is also the expedition leader, Assistant Manager and support member Ghulam Muhammad Faisal and climbers Hassan Sadpara and his younger, Muhammad Sadiq. The squad left for Mount Everest base camp on April 3 and is expected to return on June 3.
The news of Satpara having conquered the summit brought jubilation to the people of Skardu, who took to the streets to celebrate the rare feat. Mount Everest was first scaled by renowned Pakistani mountaineer and former President of Alpine Club of Pakistan Nazir Sabir. Sabir climbed Mt Everest as part of an international expedition on 17 May 2000 thus becoming the first Pakistani to reach the Everest summit.
Pakistan is the hub of the world's greatest mountain chains. The Karakoram, Himalaya, Hindu-Kush and the Pamir, these mountains are the walls that form Pakistan's long and carefully guarded frontiers with China, India, Afghanistan and across the narrow Wakhan Corridor towards Central Asia. Pakistan has the largest concentration of high mountains in the World. There are more than 100 peaks over 7,000 meters (23,000 feet) within a radius of 180 kilometers. The statistics are amazing. The K2 (8,611 meters) is the second highest on earth and is situated in the Karakoram. The five above 8,000 meter peaks out of the world's fourteen (14) 8,000 meter peaks are in Pakistan. Peaks above 3,000 to 6,000 meters are countless and remain unclimbed and unnamed. Out of 100 highest peaks in the world, more than 50 are in Pakistan.
With five of the above 8000 meters peaks in the world, Pakistan has been the focus of some of the most outstanding achievements in the world of mountaineering. For many decades the dauntless icy and rocky mountains have posed as challenge to those who dare. There are more than 100 peaks in Pakistan open for mountaineering today. Here, five gigantic mountains, K2, Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II, Broad Peak and Nanga Parbat, tower above 8000 meters, with 108 peaks higher than 7000 meters. Through the ages these majestic and awesome mountains have lured nature lovers and adventurous mountaineers. There are still peaks above 6000 meters, many of which have remained unnamed and unclimbed.
Pakistan is home to some of the world’s highest mountains, but poor security has seen fewer and fewer mountaineers from around the world ascend the peaks on Pakistan’s side of the Himalayas. Prior to the ongoing war on terror about 40-50 mountaineering expeditions were issued permits to climb this greatest concentration of lofty peaks on earth. The rising conflict has severely damaged tourism. NATO and the US-led war on terror have decimated Pakistan's once thriving tourism industry and those who made a living from international climbing expeditions struggle to survive. Tourism to Pakistan has dropped to almost by 50 percent.
Peak fees have also been drastically reduced by the Ministry of Tourism in an effort to attract climbers back to the Karakoram. Any peak below 6,500m is free, and those above are charged out at 10 percent of post-9/11 costs.
Pakistan is suffering economically from the decline in climber numbers since the war on terror. However, the quality of the climbing, the beauty of the terrain and the generosity of the people make it a wonderful mountaineering destination for 2011, despite its reputation.