Italy-Pakistan Friendship Expedition 2013: Pakistani climber Shaheen Baig all set to conquer Ama Dablam in Nepal
One of the most underrated and probably one of the finest climbers of the country, Mr. Shaheen Baig is all set to conquer the famous Ama Dablam in Nepal en route to become the first Pakistani to conquer an autumn peak in Nepal. Boasting an already blistering feathery cap of several mighty peaks, Baig is one of the most sought after High Altitude Porter (HAP) in Pakistan and is constantly hired by the tough foreign expeditions aspiring to conquer the difficult 8000ers in Karakorum.
Baig will be part of the Italy-Pakistan Friendship Expedition 2013 and will be joining hands with Elena Simona, one of the veteran Italian female climbers who have made several fruitful stopovers in Pakistan. She visited Pakistan some eleven years ago and returned to conquer Masherbrum last year, also with her accomplice the formidable Baig.
According to the latest news coming in through the satellite phones, the expedition is currently facing severe bad weather as constant snow fall continues to disrupt any movement so far. The team is getting short of the permitted days to execute and complete the expedition before the weather gets unbearable.
Earlier the expedition reached an altitude of 6000m on the 6,856m peak but had to return to base camp in wake of deteriorating weather conditions.
About Shaheen Baig
Baig, like many of his compatriots hailing from the prolific Shimshal Valley, has conquered the K-2 during the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the first ascent in 2004. He is also the conqueror of the Gasherbrum-2 in the year 2001 and has remained a priceless backup support in the successful Polish Expeditions of G-1 for the first winter ascent 2011/2012 and Broad Peak first winter ascent 2012/2013.
Baig’s career kicked off in the year 1995 when he had a chance to support a foreign expedition as HAP. His phenomenal courage and endurance always helped him get a place in big expeditions since. Ever ready to volunteer for a Search and Rescue Operation (SAR), Baig remains one of the most wanted HAP on the list of all foreign high altitude expeditions visiting Pakistan.
Baig spearheaded the SAR for the retrieval of the body of a Japanese climber on Lady Finger Peak in 1997. He was recalled for another Japanese SAR expedition launched for the retrieval of the body of a missing climber on Passu Peak. He participated in the Magic Line Spanish Expedition on K-2 to bring back the body of a dead climber. Baig also made an attempt to search for the missing Polish climbers Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski in last year’s Broad Peak first winter ascent.
About Ama Dablam
Ama Dablam, the 6, 856m peak is the third most popular Himalayan peak in Nepal with respect to the number of expeditions on it each year. The Southwest ridge is the most frequently climbed route towards the peak and climbers establish no fewer than three camps before making the final summit push. Much like K-2, Ama Dablam poses a looming threat near the peak where a huge hanging Serac continues to test the nerves of climbers.
The Serac broke way in 2006 killing around six climbers and wiping out camp-3 and fixed ropes all the way. Ama Dablam was first climbed on 13 March 1961 by Mike Gill (NZ), Barry Bishop (USA), Mike Ward (UK) and Wally Romanes (NZ) via the Southwest Ridge.
Silk Route Festival: Ukrainian ambassador declares Gilgit-Baltistan as a safe destination for tourists
The Silk Route Festival returned to its full fore on Sunday, 28th October when the Gilgit-Baltistan Governor Pir Karam Ali Shah inaugurated the three-day Festival at the Karakorum International University. The festival is organized after a lapse of 13 long years and is currently being witnessed by a strong contingent of foreign dignitaries as well as domestic tourists.
Gilgit-Baltistan which was promulgated as the fifth province by the Federal Government a few years ago, has since been striving to promote tourism in the region. The Nanga Parbat massacre earlier this year caused a massive down slide in the tourism industry of the province and the statistics of the foreign tourists and visitors tumbled down to the lowest in several years.
“G-B has much to offer to the rest of the world and its potential can be utilised by making investments in the region,” said the governor.
The venue also played host to foreign dignitaries from countries like Ukraine, Korea, and Syria who were driven through the legendary Karakorum Highway to reach the venue. Rightfully named as the Silk Route Festival, the region has been part of the ancient trade route operating for thousands of years between the highlands of China and the plains of modern day Pakistan, Iran and India.
The event was honoured with the presence of the Ukrainian ambassador Volodymyr Lakomov, who visited the region for the second time followed by his emergency visit during the Nanga Parbat incident. The ambassador was greeted by the children and women of the Hunza and Gojal dressed in their traditional attire.
Mr. Lakomov was also entertained by traditional dancers who performed to the tunes of the local musical instruments.
“I saw the young and the old dancing to the tunes. It was really an amazing performance. Let me say it’s really good to be here with them,” said the ambassador. “I came here to see for myself, the land, its culture, music and way of living. Now I am convinced it’s a safe and secure place for foreigners.”
Overwhelmed with the hospitality of the G-B people, Mr. Lakomov encouraged the foreign community to visit the region as it is now safe for the tourists and the mountaineering expeditions from world over.
The foreign delegates were later taken to various other historic places on the Karakorum Highway. The delegation also made a stopover at Sikanderabad, a point which marks the exact location of the collision of the Indian and Eurasian Tectonic plates which caused the creation of the Himalayas and Karakorum.