All-Pakistani Team Heads for Annapurna

In a year when the Nepalis showed their skill on K2, it’s now Pakistan’s turn to attempt mountaineering history. Inspired by the late Ali Sadpara, and as a tribute to the high altitude porters of Gilgit-Baltistan, four Pakistanis are on their way to Annapurna.

Although an all-Pakistani team is a new trend, climbers from Pakistan have never hesitated on 8,000m peaks, given the chance. First Pakistani summiters of K2, Ashraf Aman and Nazir Sabir, paved the way for others. High-altitude porters sometimes evolved into competent climbers: Hassan Sadpara summited six 8,000’ers, including Everest. Little Karim summited Gasherbrum II without supplementary oxygen.

Qudrat Ali summited four of Pakistan’s 8,000’ers. And of course, the late Muhammad Ali Sadpara climbed eight of the 8,000’ers, including a first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat.

As for women, the best known is Samina Baig, who started climbing at age 15 with her brother Mirza Ali, then summited Everest in 2013 at only 23 and is going to K2 this summer. The biggest challenge for these local climbers is finding the sponsorship they need to become role models and inspire a new generation.

During the country’s coronavirus closure, some of these new local climbers poured into the mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan as soon as they could. Now one of these teams is ready to go beyond national borders, to Nepal.

Long-haul cyclist and artist Kamran Bhai, also known as Kamran on Bike, came up with the idea during a year-long bicycle journey. He used to think that all mountaineering happened without external support, “but then I heard the term, High Altitude Porter, for the first time.”

Kamran hopes that his climb will shine a light on these porters, so often left out of summit glory. His small team includes climbers Sirbaz Khan and Abdul Joshi, expedition manager Saad Munawar, and he and Saad Munawar to film it all.

Further details will follow on Kamran’s social media. So far, his is the only team with confirmed plans for Annapurna, although Seven Summit Treks told ExplorersWeb some weeks ago that they will also run climbs there.