ISLAMABAD: The first-ever team of Pakistani climbers reached the top of the world’s second tallest mountain, K2, marking sixty years since it was first scaled.
“Six members reached the summit at 02:22 am PST today,” said a local expedition company Nazir Sabir Expeditions high altitude guide Sarwar Ali, in regular contact with the climbers.
Pakistan Tour Operators Association (PATO) President Amjad Ayub confirmed the summit that was made without using supplementary oxygen. “Yes! Six mountaineers from Gilgit-Baltistan have scaled K2 at 2:22 am today (09:22 pm Friday),” he added.
The six climbers are Hassan Jan, Ali Durani, Rahmatullah Baig, Ghulam Mehdi, Ali and Muhammad Sadiq and with three Italians also part of the group.
Unlike Mount Everest that has been scaled by nearly 3,500 young and old climbers, K2 has been a much lonelier place with roughly 300 making to its tops since it was first captured sixty years ago with many climbers dying on the descent.
The 8,611-meter K2 is located on the border between Baltistan, in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China. It was the country’s first team effort, although individual Pakistani climbers have previously climbed the peak.
The local Gilgit-Baltistan government and the Italian organisation Ev-k2CNR sponsored the expedition to mark the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of K2 by Italian climbers on July 31, 1954
Gilgit-Baltistan Information Minister Sadia Danish who also heads the tourism department of the region termed the summit as the first step to the revival of tourism in the area. “The local tourism industry had been badly affected by last year’s killings on Nanga Parbat base camp, the success will help in reviving it” she said, adding, “The tourists who had omitted Gilgit-Baltistan from their destination because of last year’s killings will now add it back” she said.
Sadia Danish said that the local government was doing a number of efforts to boost tourism in the region. Last year, K2 denied all efforts by climbers to go beyond Camp III due to extreme snow conditions. The mountain claimed the lives of a mountaineer and his son, Denali and Marty Schmidt from New Zealand when an avalanche hit them at the camp last year.
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