This winter season on the world’s second highest mountain K2 is historic in every sense.
Widely considered as “the last problem of mountaineering” climbing K2 in Winters had been a distant dream so far.Since late eighty’s only four teams have tried to climb the summit in winter; all without success. It is now almost three decades since first attempt for K2 in Winter was done and no human to date have crossed K2 beyond 7650m altitude in harsh winter of Karakorum.
Currently two Teams are on K2 seeking out to overcome this “Last Great Challenge” .
First one is the ”Western Team” comprising of Spanish and Polish Mountaineers which is lavishly equipped and sponsored, led by 37 year old Spaniard Alex Tricon.The second team is a Russian / Kazakhstan / Kirghizstan dominated which can be referred as “Eastern Team”. This team unfortunately is neither well equipped nor sponsored enough .
Despite of the fact that mountain climbing is a team sport which heavily depends on support staff including the accompanying sherpas and logistics people at the base camp it all ultimately boils down to the leadership of a daring mission like that.So how the team leaders of these two different and highly competitive teams compare to each other.
The team leader of Western Team “Alex Txikon” was born in Spain on December 12 , 1981. To his credit are almost thirty expeditions including fourteen of 8000ers . Most noticeably in 2016 he completed the first winter ascent to Nanga Parbat .With unsuccessful winter climb of Everest in 2017 and successful climb of Nanga Parbat in 2016 in Winter Alex is in good shape to meet this great challenge .
He can be reached at http://alextxikon.com/en
Vasily Pivtsov from Kazikhistan is the team leader of seven member Eastren Team currently on K2. Born on August 16, 1975 in Alma-Ata , in Kazakhstan he has climbed all 14 highest peaks of the world without the use of artificial oxygen. However on Everest he had to fall back for health reasons. The summit of the K2 as his 14th and last eight-thousand he reached on August 23, 2011.Despite the limited resources his team is also poised well to meet the Challenge of K2 in winters. He can be reached at
As both teams move cautiously inch by inch on K2 in harsh winters under their experienced leaders , it remains yet to be seen if this last great challenge is accomplished once for all or will be left for future.
Pakistan is a great place for climbers.
It has five of world’s 14, 8000 meters and it has more than 100 peaks greater than 7000m.
But how often is that a teenager can become an acclaimed trekker and morph into Pakistan’s Youngest Mountaineer. So as a matter of a fact this boy from Lahore is now on Pakistan’s climbing and mountaineering radar.
His name ? Shehroze Kashif.
His age ? Fifteen Years.
According to Shehroze his inspiration came from one of his father’s trip to Shogran where he saw some trekkers starting their journey towards the PakPeak Makra (3885m).So that must have been love at first sight as Shehroze was particularly curious about what his father and his trekking partners did when they got to the top.(A question he still must be finding answer).
PakPeak Makra (3885m) – Shehroze in 2014 at the age of 12.
Next was PakPeak Musa Ka Musalla (4080m) in Kaghan Valley,which he also did at the age of 12 back in 2014.
PakPeak Musa Ka Musallah (4080m)
Next was PakPeak Ganga Choti (3044m) situated in Pir Panjal Range and located near Sudhan Gali in Bagh District, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan.With enough experience under his belt by now, the little mountaineer eyed for something serious.
Shehroze on PakPeak Ganga Choti (3044m)
PakPeak Mingli Sar (6050m) is in the Shimshal Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan. Pakistan’s legendary mountaineer Nazir Sabir set foot for first time on PakPeak Minglik Sar (6050m) in 1988.After 27 year of Nazir Sabir’s great feat,15 year old Shehroze waved the national flag on top of PakPeak Mingli Sar (6050m) on 31 July 2015. He mentions that it was difficult peak to scale as the route was less than ideal.
Apart from the above mentioned climbing feats, Gondogoro Pass near K2 base camp remains his another achievement.In August 2017,Shehroze added another feather to his hat by traversing intimidating Khurdopin Pass .
Shehroze atop Khurdopin Pass ( Credit : Shehroze Kashif )
So what’s next for Pakistan’s Youngest Mountaineer ? Being from a country with greatest collection of mountains it can be difficult to choose from.However time is on his side.Who knows sooner or later a K2 Summit might be on the way.
All the best Shehroze. Keep PakPeaking !
Mountaineering is in his blood as his father Group Captain Shah Khan was himself a climber of his time. Native of Hunza which is known for climbers and working with Pakistan Army which is an academy for mountaineers, Sher Khan has all the circumstances to become a climber, which he is. Undoubtedly he is a born and natural climber.
Sher Khan is amongst the very few lead climbers of Pakistan. Unlucky not to reach on the summit of K-2 even crossing the magic line of 8000 meters twice, but he has climbed all the rest four eight thousanders of Pakistan. He was detailed as deputy leader of Pakistan Mount Everest Expedition – 1997.While climbing two eight thousanders in one attempt, he was also the member of Messner’s team.
Apart from his mountaineering activities and profession, he is also a top class player of Polo. Moreover Alpine Club of Pakistan has enjoyed his services as vice president for last few years. He is another recipient of President’s Award for Pride of Performance (sports).
Samina Khayal Baig is a Pakistani high-altitude mountaineer. She is the only Pakistani woman and the third Pakistani to climb Mount Everest. She is also the youngest Muslim woman to climb Everest, having done so at the age of 21.
Samina is also the first Pakistani woman and the first Muslim to climb the seven summits.She was the first to climb the peak Chashkin Sar (above 6,000 meters) in Pakistan in 2010, which was later renamed Samina Peak after her.She reached the summit of ‘Koh-i-Brobar’ (‘Mount Equality’) in 2011.An attempt at the seven kilometre high Spantik Peak ended in failure for Baig, due to adverse weather conditions.
Samina Baig became the first Pakistani woman and the third Pakistani to climb Mount Everest on 19 May 2013.She was joined by Indian twin girls Tashi and Nungshi Malik in climbing Mount Everest and they together perched national flags of India and Pakistan side-by-side atop the peak,to spread a message of Indo-Pakistani friendship and peace. In an interview with her brother before the ascent; Baig also stated that the expedition was a demonstration of gender equality. Samina’s Brother Mirza Ali, approximately 248m short from the summit of Everest, let his sister go to the summit on her own without his support ,to give message of Women empowerment in Pakistan.
1954 K2 Expedition
Amir Mehdi was a High Altitude Porter (HAP) and climber from Hassnabad, Hunza, Pakistan. He is known for bivouacking at 8100m during 1954 Italian Expedition to K2. Mehdi was born in 1933. He was a participant of 1953 German Expedition to Nanga Parbat. Mehdi returned down from Camp IV due to health issues. Hermann Buhl made first ascent of Nanga Parbat.
Next year, it were efforts of Walter Bonatti and Amir Mehdi that made first ascent of K2 possible. Both of them shifted bottled oxygen directly from Camp VII to Camp IX, late in the night. To their surprise Camp IX was not present at it’s agreed spot. Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni asked them to go down. Already exhausted, descend to lower camp in dark wasn’t possible. Walter Bonatti and Amir Mehdi bivouacked at 8100m in freezing cold. Mehdi descended next morning, severely frostbitten and had to undergo several surgeries. He lost ten fingers and couldn’t climb again.He was first Pakistani mountaineer to reach a height above 8000m. Mehdi died in early 2000.
Ashraf Aman 7 August 1977 Japan-Pakistan Joint Expedition
Nazir Sabir 7 August 1981 Japan-Pakistan Joint Expedition
Rajab Shah 7 July 1995 International Expedition
Asad Khan 27 July 2004 Swiss-Italian Expedition
Nisar Hussain 27 July 2004 Chinese Expedition
Shaheen Baig 28 July 2004 International Expedition
Mehrban Karim (Late) 1 August 2008 International Expedition
K2 2014 Pakistan Expedition 26 July 2014