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Sunday Jan 24 2021
Web Desk

'Thank you Pakistan': Nepalese mountaineers overcome with emotion over K2 feat

Web Desk

  • Nepalese mountaineers complete a winter attempt on K2 summit
  • Around 49 climbers in several teams are on K2 making attempts on the summit, weather permitting
  • K2 is notorious for its sleep slopes and high winds
  • In winter, K2 surface becomes slick ice

Nepalese mountaineer Nirmal Purja, who was part of the team to successfully complete a winter attempt on the summit of K2 for the first time, was humbled by the warm welcome the team received upon arrival in Skardu and Islamabad. 

Taking to Twitter, Purja said the climbers were overjoyed with emotions and "our hearts are full of gratitude" and thanked "Pakistani family for making us feel at home".

"We feel honoured that many highly respected delegates of Pakistan came to congratulate our team," he wrote. "It was a great pleasure to meet the President Dr Arif Alvi, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Tourism Minister Zulfikar Bukhari and our very own minister of Gilgit Baltistan Nasir Ali Khan."

It may be added here that Zulfi Bukhari is a special assistant to PM Imran Khan on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource and not a tourism minister.

"We value your kind words of encouragement and appreciation for our team and the Nepalese climbing community," said Purja. "Smallest things matter in big mountains."

"The support team including the porters, basecamp support, logistic providers, cooks; everyone plays a pivotal role. They are the backbone of our expedition and I cannot thank them enough," he continued. "Thank you, Pakistan!"

Read more: History making K2 team make it back safely to base camp

The impossible K2 climb in winter

 A team of climbers from Nepal become the first mountaineers to successfully complete a winter attempt on the summit of K2, the world’s second tallest peak.

The group were named as Nirmal Purja, Gelje Sherpa, Mingma David Sherpa, Mingma G, Sona Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, Pem Chhiri Sherpa, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Kili Pemba Sherpa, and Dawa Tenjing Sherpa.

Located on the Pakistan China border, K2 is the only mountain over 8,000 metres that had not been summitted in the winter.

The group of sherpas had paused at a point 70 metres short of the 8,611 metre (28,251 foot) peak to wait for each other before climbing into the world’s history books together at 4:56pm.

The team's success was marred by the death on the mountain of renowned Spanish climber Sergio Mingote, who fell down a crevasse as he attempted to make his way down to Base Camp, Karrar Haidri, secretary of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, told Reuters. 

Mingote, 49, had climbed seven mountains over 8,000 meters without supplemental oxygen in less than two years.

The Nepalese team on K2 summit. Photo: Reuters

Around 49 climbers in several teams are on K2 making attempts on the summit, weather permitting.

First climbed in 1954 by Italian Achille Compagnoni, K2 is notorious for its sleep slopes and high winds, and in winter its surface becomes slick ice.

Of the 367 people that had completed its ascent by 2018, 86 had died. The Pakistani military is regularly called in to rescue climbers using helicopters, but the weather often makes that difficult.

The previous highest altitude achieved on K2 in winter was 7,750 meters by Denis Urubko and Marcin Kaczkan, set nearly two decades ago.

The coronavirus pandemic had meant restrictions on travel severely impacted the traditional summer mountaineering season in the Karakoram range and Pakistan in particular, which is home to five of the world’s 14 peaks over 8,000 metres.