Beneath the waving flag is Pakistan’s hero

Elia Saikaly

It took losing my own father to a brutal car crash on July 25th, 2018, and travelling to extraordinary lengths to find answers leading up to his death, crossing the blurred unwritten lines between (in)sanity and love to understand (and support) just how far a young man would go to bury his father, remove him from the pathway where all could see and honour his name and memory according to Islamic tradition.


I am still processing what happened high up on K2. Sajid was unstoppable, fueled by a determination only a son can have for his fallen and missing father.

We were in the death zone for two days, on the mountain for five, let down by both of our high-altitude porters and forced to carry their responsibility on our backs. To say it was intense would be a disservice to the experience and the sheer power of the King of all mountains. K2 was kind to us, very kind. And we are humbled and grateful.

This was Sajid’s journey and PK and I was passengers on his sacred mission. Adapting to his every emotion and move, reaction and action was the strategy. His strength, bravery, courage, and commitment to his father were one of the most powerful forces I’ve ever witnessed. He is his father’s son.

Sajid covered up Juan Pablo with snow and brought some of his belongings home for his family. He then buried his father Ali Sadpara and performed a burial ritual outside of camp 4.

He also searched our dear friend John Snorri’s lifeless body for clues and evidence of a winter ascent.

I hung by my ascender on a 75-degree slope of blue ice and recorded that moment, and all others, as our parallel mission was to honour our missing friends by finishing what we started in winter.

We retraced their footsteps and found answers, many of which are devastatingly heartbreaking, and we continue to gain insight into exactly what happened.

Lead with your heart, not your ego. One can never go wrong.

The soul of the son of Pakistan’s Snow Leopard can finally rest. As can mine. Finally.

The mystery continues to unravel.

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