Monday, June 03, 2013

2013 Pakistani Climbing Season Ramps Up

As I mentioned last week, now that the the spring climbing season in the Himalaya is over, the mountaineering community is turning its attention elsewhere. A considerable amount of that attention is currently focused on Denali in Alaska, but the summer climbing season in Pakistan is also starting to gain momentum. While the country doesn't have the number of 8000 meter peaks that Nepal has, it certainly is home to some of the more difficult climbs around. Over the next two months, some of the top alpinists in the world will surely be testing their skills on those mountains.

Chief amongst the Pakistani big peaks is K2 of course. Standing just 237 meters (777 ft) shorter than Everest, it is the second tallest mountain on the planet. It just might be the toughest to climb however. Due to its myriad of technical and logistical challenges, not to mention unpredictable weather, K2 has earned itself a reputation for being the "mountaineer's mountain." Its harsh and unrelenting challenges, which has resulted in the second highest fatality-to-summit rate (behind Annapurna), has also earned it the nickname of the "Savage Mountain." Successful summits are few and far between on this peak, although there will no doubt be several teams trying it again this year.

Other 8000 meter peaks in Pakistan include Broad Peak (8051 m/26,414 ft), Gasherbrum I (8080 m/26,444 ft) and II (8034 m/26,358 ft) and Nanga Parbat (8126 m/26,660 ft). Each of those mountains presents its own unique challenges that sets them apart from each other and the Himalayan peaks that are typically climbed in Nepal and Tibet. Nanga Parbat for instance is known for its incredibly difficult technical challenges while BP requires a great deal of endurance to summit. The Gasherbrums happen to be quite remote, even by the standards of these big mountains, which presents some difficulties just getting to Base Camp.

Throughout June and July we'll get updates from these, and likely other mountains in Pakistan. Some teams will go to acclimatize on Broad Peak then attempt K2. Others will be satisfied with taking on just one of these mountains. And while it won't be nearly as active as the Himalayan climbing season, there will still be plenty of news to report and interesting stories to tell. Hopefully I can do my best to help share some of them with you.

Stay tuned for more updates in the days ahead. Climbers are just now arriving in Islamabad and the Pakistani climbing season is just about to get underway.

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