SKARDU: The first-ever expedition of Pakistani mountaineers to summit K2 peak received an overwhelming reception from the local authorities, tourist organisations and foreign mountaineers at a send-off ceremony held here the other day.
The ceremony was arranged by the Central Karakoram National Park (CKNP) and the Gilgit-baltistan tourism department with the support of the Ev-K2-CNR at a local hotel, said a press release issued here. GB minister Shaikh Nisar Hussain Sarbaaz was the chief guest on the occasion while the speakers included Italian mountaineering expert Murizio Gallo, deputy commissioner Raja Faisal Khaliq, CKNP director Raja Abid Ali, mountaineer Hassan Sadpara, mountaineering trainer and president Baltistan Association of Tour Operators (Bato) Mohammad Iqbal, president Pakistan Association of Tour Operators (Pato) Amjad Ayub, Pakistan K2 Expedition team Leader Mohammad Taqi, and expedition focal persons Munir Ahmed and Arif Hussain.
The GB minister while speaking on the occasion said that our mountains were the best for adventure tourism and mountaineering and added that the region was very peaceful and hospitable for domestic and foreign guests.
Murizio Gallo mentioned that the team was competent enough to scale the K2 peak if something harsh would not happen. “All the mountaineers are very enthusiastic and well aware of the harsh behaviour of the mountains,” Mr Gallo said and added they had the requisite skills and techniques to handle any untoward situation.
Two Italian mountaineering ambassadors Michele Cucchi and Simone Origone, world champion in speed skiing, would be available to the Pakistani expedition for technical support and assistance in the hour of need.
Director CKNP Raja Abid Ali said we had several opportunities of tourism in park that were being developed with the support of Italian government.
This expedition would mainstream CKNP and Pakistan at national and international level.
Bato President Mohammad Iqbal was very happy to see the porters becoming the mountaineers. “I trained them as porters and to climb initially, now the Italian mountaineering experts have equipped them with skills and techniques to climb the harshest mountain – the K2. I believe in their skills and with the mercy of God they would be successful.”
President Pato Amjad Ayub urged the government to take steps to promote and mainstream internationally the mountaineering and adventure tourism.
Karakoram Mountains K2 Pakistan
Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2014