Another inspiring Italian to take down the dangerous Nanga Parbat for the first winter ascent this year
Winter Mountaineering has now entered in an altogether different mode as the toughened Winter Mountaineers are hoping to grab the last three 8000ers in the world, never been climbed before in winters.
Polish and Italian climbers are currently leading the dangerous world of Winter Mountaineering and both camps are eager to grab the remaining 8000ers in the cold Karakorum in the coming season.
After Italian Simone Moro’s first winter ascent of the Gasherbrum-2 in 2010, Polish veteran Artur Hajzer and his team bagged the first winter ascent of the Gasherbrum-1, giving a new impetus to the decades old rivalry between the Poles and the rest of the Mountaineering world.
Moro is still leading the pack from the front for having three virgin winter ascents for which he is rightfully called as the “Mr. Winter”. But this year around, he will not be the only Italian hoping to bag yet another 8000er.
The 36-year-old Daniele Nardi will be yet another aspirant to bag the notorious Nanga Parbat in the cold Western Himalayas in Pakistan along with no fewer than half-a-dozen different expeditions from all over the world.
Nardi comes with an impressive resume for having successfully summitted four 8000ers in his career and has always hoped to climb one of the deadliest and most difficult mountains in the world. His dream of climbing the second highest mountain in the world came in the year 2007 when he summitted the 8,611m high K-2 in the rugged Karakorum Mountain range in Pakistan.
Nardi has fond memories of the ascent but also regrets the loss of his friend during the expedition.
“I started to go to the mountains as a child”, said Nardi. “My family would take us every summer to spend holidays in the Alps Then one day, at age 13 in Courmayeur we saw a documentary on a mountaineering expedition. Was to Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli in 1954 climbed “the most difficult mountain in the world, "K2”.
“I decided I also wanted to climb that mountain. At age 18 I went alone direct the Alps, the next day I climbed the Grand Jorasses. The years that followed were years totally devoted to the mountains and to the inner search that generates mountaineering”. He added.
“In 2007 crown my dream, call K2, the mountain teaches me his law, I must learn to accept the loss of a friend on those slopes of ice.”
Nardi along with his team of International climbers is likely to take the Kinshofer route and will switch over to the Diamir face on the North side of the mountain.
He will be negotiating his path on what is often referred to the world’s tallest wall of over 4000metres. He will be bracing strong winds surging to a gruesome 150km/h with temperatures as low as -40 Degree Celsius.
Apart from the sturdy Italians who will be eager to tame the treacherous Nanga Parbat in the dead of winters this year, another ambitious Gridlock of Americans and Hungarians will be attempting the unthinkable.
The 28-year-old American Ian Overton, an accomplished Climbing Medic will be teaming up with Hungarians Dávid Klein and Zoltan Acs to summit the 8,125m Nanga for the first winter ascent.
Of the three 8000ers K-2, Nanga Parbat and Broad Peak which have not been summited in winters, Nanga Parbat offers a gruesome challenge and has overpowered several winter attempts in recent years. This time around the mountain will be facing at least three renowned climbing teams from all over the world, all hoping to bag the virgin ascent of one of the most notorious mountain on earth.
The team will be arriving in Islamabad somewhere in the closing weeks of December and will be shuttled to the Nanga Base Camp on the Raikot Face. Following in the footsteps of “Mr. Winter”, Italian Simone Moro, the team wants to keep the strength to the minimum and will be treading the same route followed by Simone and Denis Urubko last year.
“Last winter Simone Moro and Denis Urubko scouted an excellent line slanting to climber’s left of the traditional Kinshofer Route (and then later gaining it) on the Diamir Face.” says David.
“It looks relatively safe and avoids the steeper, rocky sections at lower altitudes. It’s important, because this way we can limit – or maybe avoid – fixing ropes. Since these steep, rocky sections are at a lower altitude of the Kinshofer, we would have to fix them, so that we could ascend and descend these sections during acclimatization. We are a small team, relaying on no high altitude porters or bottled oxygen, so I was very happy to see this creative solution of the Italians.” He added.
Overton, may not have experienced the ascent of an 8000er before in his life, but comes with considerable experience of climbing and skiing in the winters. Being a Medic in the expedition, Overton’s duties may be limited to the safety of the Base Camp but he does not want to stay put.
“As the team medic, I intend to be on the mountain with David and Zoltan”. He said. “I won't be of much use at base camp playing with a suture kit and taking my own blood pressure. As for my personal climbing career, I won't shy away from saying I've never reached beyond what you can find here in the Continental US. Point me at a 14000 in winter and I'll make a run at it”.
As for David and Zoltan, both have no fewer than five 8000ers between them, all in Alpine Style and without the use of supplementary Oxygen.
“Zoltan and I have climbed together – since 1998 – on six different expeditions (four of those in the greater Himalayas) and we know how the other functions during an expedition”. said David.
The team is likely to be accompanied by a Romanian Expedition in the Base Camp also following the Kinshofer-Diamir line chartered out by Simone.
Vultures of Nagarparker: WWF to setup sanctuary following recently discovered nesting sites in the area
Tharparker District in Sindh is not just the only fertile desert in the world but is also home of some of the rare migratory birds in the country. Most of these birds which visit the area to avoid the harsh winters of their home countries mostly use the land for nesting purposes and for the propagation of their hatchlings in comparatively suitable atmosphere.
Recently the Wildlife monitoring agencies came across new nesting sites of the endangered White-back and Long-billed Vultures, specie which has experienced fast decline in their population in the region. Emboldened by the new development, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has established a sanctuary for the specie in the Nagarparker Town.
“Nagarparkar remains the last stronghold of the two critically endangered vulture species in the country — the long-billed vulture and the white-backed vulture. The long-billed vulture has always restricted to Nagarparkar, particularly Karoonjhar Hills, whereas the white-backed vulture is found in Punjab as well, its active nests are only found in Sindh,” said Uzma Khan, director of biodiversity looking after the vulture conservation project of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Vultures play an important role in the ecosystem of any region, working as the natural recycling units which devour and consume the flesh of the dead and decaying animals. They not only control the spread of deadly disease like Anthrax, Tuberculosis and Foot-and-Mouth diseases, but also add to the beauty and the diversity of the region.
Long-Billed and White-Backed Vultures have experienced sharp decline in the population predominantly owing to the widespread use of Diclofenac — a cheap widely available non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug commonly used in livestock in the Indian subcontinent for treatment of inflammation, pain, etc.
Omair Shahid, who has been working with the WWF and has been to the project site many times, said that: “Vultures are poisoned by Diclofenac which causes immediate death when they eat carcasses of livestock that have been administered veterinary Diclofenac”.
The necropsy of dead vultures showed that 80pc of adults, 63pc of sub-adults, 19pc of juveniles and 13pc of nestlings had visceral gout (a disease of birds in which kidney failure causes a build-up or urates in the internal organs) and this finding was consistent with the earlier reports from India.
The drug was banned by the Government in the year 2008 but its use has not been successfully checked over the span of time.
There are other species of the birds dwelling the area but their population is stable for the moment.
Among them, four of the Gyps vulture species are only found in Asia. These are oriental white-backed vulture (Gyps benegalensis), long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus), slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) and Himalayan griffon vulture (Gyps himalayensis) and Eurasian Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) that breed in Eurasia but migrate to Africa and South Asia. The geographic range of these vultures overlaps.
In a recent survey conducted throughout Pakistan in the vulture breeding season from November 2010 to April 2011, a total of 457 Egyptian vultures, 167 Eurasian Griffon, 43 white-backed vultures, three king/black vultures, seven cinereous vultures, 55 long-billed vultures and 89 Himalayan griffon were seen across 77 sites in Pakistan.
Islamabad on the verge of losing yet another elephant owing to the perpetual negligence of the Zoo administration
The inefficiency and apathy of the Islamabad Zoo administration is on yet another rampage as the staff deputed is on the verge of losing the only Elephant left in the enclosure.
Pakistan Explorer took the lead last year to bring the agonizing condition of the female elephant Saheli and was able to rattle the power echelons in the Zoo administration, pushing them to take some immediate steps to save the elephant. The efforts turned out to be too little and too late as the city lost its old companion Saheli, losing her battle against the lingering Gangrene on her left hind leg.
The only male elephant left in the zoo “Kaavan”, also an Asian breed, has now been in “solitary confinement” for the last five months. The poor animal has not been unchained resulting in deep gashes around his ankles, which are likely to develop Gangrene.
The staff present at the enclosure promptly provided the excuse that the elephant is too dangerous to be unchained, conveniently avoiding the fact that none of the caretakers deputed have the capability or the experience to handle the elephant.
An official at the zoo, requesting not to be quoted, said that because of the alleged negligence of the zoo management, problems have been increasing continuously.The official warned that after the death of the female elephant, the male elephant might suffer the same fate.
“The male elephant had been chained for five months, due to which his legs are wounded. The elephant is worth Rs20 million. It should be unchained, otherwise he could also die just like the female elephant but the management is not ready to listen,” he added.
One of the professional Mahawat (caretaker) of the animal was removed about a year ago and was replaced by one of the sweepers who is absolutely unaware of handling and feeding of the animal. The replacement is attributed to the hefty amount Mahawats collect from the visitors at the elephant enclosure and one of the directors of the zoo was reportedly said to be particularly interested in the amount collected every month.
Not just the elephant, several other animals kept in the zoo have been subjected to severe negligence, where many have lost their lives and quite a few have been stolen. No enquiry or case was ever registered against the stolen animals.
Another official requesting anonymity said there was politics – internal management rifts – going on in the zoo, due to which animals have been suffering.
“Extension work is going on in the zoo and every director wants to give the contract to his favourite contractor. Also animals and medicines are being stolen,” he claimed.
The zoo lost its most revered possession, the African male Lion in 2008, followed by the loss of Saheli last year. The zoo officials have now reported the loss of a Neelgai, and almost half a dozen animals have acquired severe injuries for reasons still not known.