Heli Skiing in Pakistan

The Karakoram is home to the highest concentration of peaks over 8,000 meters high to be found anywhere on earth, including K2, the second highest peak of the world (8,611 m/28,251 ft). K2 is just 237 m (778 ft) lower than the 8,848 m (29,029 ft) tall Mount Everest. The range is about 500 km (311 mi) in length, and is the most heavily glaciated part of the world outside the polar regions.

Pakistani Mountaineer Samina Baig

While Mount Everest is considered the tallest peak at 8,848 meters (29,029 feet), it is K2, believed to be the second tallest at 8,611 meters (28,251 ft), that is documented as the most dangerous. In fact, there have been rumors circulating in the mountaineering world that new measurements show that K2 is actually taller than Everest. Rumors that it might actually be much, much higher - 12 feet taller than Everest - began in 1987 after a British expedition measured K2 and found it to be 29,041 feet. If confirmed, this new measurement, along with the greater challenge of K2, could hurt significant tourist revenue stream of Nepal and bring it to Pakistan.


Malam Jabba Ski Resort in Swat, Pakistan

In contrast to Mt. Everest summit's total of 3,681 successful climbs, only 280 climbers have reached the K2 summit. "It's enormous, very high, incredibly steep and much further north than Everest which means it attracts notoriously bad weather," says Britain's most celebrated mountaineer Sir Chris Bonnington, who lost his colleague Nick Escourt in an avalanche on K2's western side during an expedition in 1978. In 1986 13 climbers were killed in a week when a vicious storm stranded numerous expeditions. It is often said that if you were to summit K2 with a climbing partner, it is best to say your goodbyes well ahead the descent, because the statistics claim that one of the two will not come back alive. 46% of the attempts end in death, most during descent, according to a K2 climbers website. The fatality rate for those who reach the summit at 27% is about three times higher than that for Mount Everest, according to BBC.

Here's a recent CNN video report on heli skiing in the Karakorams:



Heli-skiing in Karakoram Mountains of Pakistan - CNN from Badar Khushnood on Vimeo.

Here's PTV News video on heli skiing event in Gilgit-Bltistan:


Report on First Ever Heli-Skiing Event in Pakistan from Shabbir Ahmad Wahgra on Vimeo.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Climbing K2-The Ultimate Challenge

Life of a Siachen Soldier

Extreme Kayak Adventures in Pakistan

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Comments

heliskiing said…
I know very well that it is extremely difficult to come up with worthwhile article subjects all the time. So I just want to say: well done! Regards,
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Express Tribune story of first Pak woman on Everest:

ISLAMABAD / GILGIT-BALTISTAN: Two young siblings achieved rare mountaineering glory for themselves on Saturday by becoming the first Pakistani woman and only the third Pakistani man to set foot on the summit of Mount Everest in Nepal.
Through their feats, 21-year-old Samina Baig and her 29-year-old brother Mirza Ali ensured that their country’s flag fluttered on the world’s highest summit.
An ecstatic Samina informed her family about her successful ascent via satellite phone.

Mirza Ali and Samina can count themselves lucky as they will be remembered as the only Pakistanis to scale Everest on the 60th anniversary of the first conquest by Edmund Hillary on May 19, 1953.
Only two other Pakistani mountaineers, Nazir Sabir and Hassan Sadpara, have ever climbed the highest peak.
“According to initial reports, the two mountaineers and 29 other foreigners reached the summit at 7.30am (local time),” said Pervaizuddin, a resident of Shimshal Valley.
Two twin sisters from India, Tashi and Nugshi, also accompanied Samina and Mirza.
Together, the siblings placed the flags of India and Pakistan side by side on the highest peak on earth – making a statement of peace.
But Samina and Mirza’s effort stood out because the two siblings managed to scale the peak on the 48th day of their expedition, without the use of supplementary oxygen.
Mirza, who has been regularly updating about their expedition on his blog mirzaadventure.blogspot.com, wrote: “We request all our readers and visitors [to] please pray that Samina becomes the first Pakistani woman to reach the summit of Everest. And I hope to be the first young Pakistani without bottled oxygen to unfurl Pakistan’s flag on top of the world together with our Indian friends! Wish us luck! Thank you for sharing and for your support!”
Hailing from Shimshal village in Gojal tehsil of Hunza-Nagar district, Samina has come a long way.
“She is proof that the country has the talent and motivation; unfortunately there is no government support for mountain climbers,” said Colonel Sher Khan, one of the country’s leading mountaineers. “It is a sport without spectators.” Khan counts the people of Shimshal as among the world’s the best climbers.
Samina’s expedition began on April 1. She and her team ascended the mountain via the south face from the Nepalese side.
Mirza and Samina have been mountaineering for leisure for the last 10 years. They have served as mountain guides and expedition leaders for peaks in the Karakoram, the Himalayas and the Hindukush. But Samina has started climbing professionally for the past four years.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/551757/for-the-record-woman-climber-makes-pakistan-proud/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Fox New report on booming tourism in Azad Kashmir:

Success stories can be rare in Pakistan, but business is booming in one Kashmir tourist spot as the region rebuilds after a devastating earthquake and shrugs off associations with violence.
Hundreds of thousands of Pakistani tourists drawn to the lakes and glaciers of the Neelum valley are injecting desperately needed money into one of the poorest parts of the country.
Westerners stopped coming to the Himalayas of Pakistani-Kashmir years ago, put off by its reputation as a training ground for Islamist militant groups and the risk of sporadic conflict with India.
But with a new road built by the Chinese after the 2005 earthquake killed 73,000 people and a ceasefire holding with India, Pakistanis are discovering the snow-capped peaks, glaciers, lakes and lush-green meadows of the Neelum valley.
Known locally as "Paradise on Earth," the valley is 114 kilometres (70 miles) east of the base camp where gunmen shot dead American, Chinese, Lithuanian, Slovakian and Ukranian climbers in June.
It was the worst attack on foreigners in Pakistan for a decade, but in neighbouring Kashmir, few Pakistanis are worried.
"There is a bit of fear there, but overall we are enjoying ourselves and we will stay according to our plan," said Mohammad Amir, a lawyer on holiday with his family from southern Punjab.
Munazza Tariq, a university student from Karachi, agrees.
"This was carried out by enemies of Pakistan. After it happened, we received a lot of calls from our relatives from Karachi, but we are safe and enjoying ourselves," said Munazza.
Local tourism ministry official Shehla Waqar says 600,000 people visited Neelum last year compared to 130,000 in 2010, before the Chinese built a road linking the area to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
"There is an influx of tourists in the area because we have a very beautiful road from Muzaffarabad to the Neelum Valley," she said
The nearby Line of Control slices apart the Indian and Pakistani-held zones of the Himalayan region where a ceasefire has held since November 2003.
"This area is very peaceful and there is no fear of terrorism," said Waqar.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region claimed in full by both sides....



http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/07/16/tourists-flock-to-pakistan-kashmir-valley-in-rare-boom/
Riaz Haq said…
No longer big news here. Just, "oh ... that again." I'm taking a few days off, and I'm already scoping out the best woods to find some trails to ski on.

Pakistan has some of the most famous mountains in the world - the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, Karakorum. They are mostly untapped for skiing. Few in Pakistan have ever heard of the sport. And even if there was interest, there's very little infrastructure - to get people to, or up, the mountains.

A few years ago, our BBC colleague Rebecca Kesby reported on a man in Pakistan's Swat Valley named Matee Ullah Khan.

He was trying on his own to jump-start skiing as a way to capitalize on the stunning winter scenery, at a place that is Pakistan's premier resort in the summer.

Khan learned to ski as part of his survival training for the Pakistani Air Force. He loved it.

"It keeps you alive, especially the spring skiing. The ice crystal is on the upper portion of the snow. And when you are breaking that crystal, that ice, it produces a very good sound and you feel it down your skis. It's very good. We say that having one run on this spring skiing, it make you younger for one year," Khan said.

And it is a great sound, isn't it?

Khan wanted to impart his excitement for the sport to the next generation. And for a while the skiing in Swat was okay.

But then in 2007 the Taliban swooped in and destroyed what little Khan had put together — the grooming equipment, the donated chair lift, the small lodge.

"For me, it was very shocking," Khan said. "I was personally very upset because skiing, I love it. We love our area, but at that time it was not possible to live peacefully and do our activities."

The downhilling stopped. But after the fighting died down, Khan tried to start things up again ... with just 15 pairs of skis and a few pairs of poles at his ski school.

Some kids just strapped on narrow planks with boots nailed to them.

After Kesby's story aired, the BBC was inundated with calls from all over the world from people wanting to donate equipment. Kesby said there was one guy from Switzerland, Marc Freudweiler, who was the rainmaker — or snowmaker as it were.

"His wife is Pakistani and he wouldn't give up, he was totally intrepid about it. And he's managed now to send more than a ton of equipment — it arrived about a week ago — and the kids are now able to ski properly on proper equipment," Kesby said. "They still need a ski lift and some more snow preparation equipment. Ironically, it is called 'the Switzerland of Pakistan' so it's quite apt that it's Swiss people who are trying to help along with other people."

"But of course it's still a very difficult situation security-wise," Kesby continued. "There was just an attack in Peshawar, just a few hours ago, so that's obviously at the time of everyone's mind.

So — still a little dicey, but some day maybe I'll take a few runs in the Switzerland of Pakistan.

http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-02-13/pakistans-only-ski-school-back-business-switzerland-pakistan

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