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Fazal Ali among unsung heroes who scaled K2 three times

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The most experienced and humble HAP from Shimshal climbed the savage mountain without supplemental oxygen.

High Asia Herald Report

Islamabad, July 28: Fazal Ali Shah, the three-time sumiteer of K2 attempted the savage mountain nine times but couldn’t break his own record on Tuesday. 

The 42 years old is among the few climbers who have achieved such feats in the field of mountaineering. He attempted K2 eight times twice in winter and conquered it four times without supplemental oxygen, and two times even without a down suit. 

“This proud son of Gilgit-Baltistan has broken his own record of scaling K2 (8,611m) the second highest and most challenging peak”, commented Niamat Karim, on his Facebook page. 

“His accomplishments must be recognized and respected. He is a real hero,” he added.

Despite being the only High Altitude Porter (HAP) ever to have scaled K2 three times, Fazal Ali’s achievements have not been recognised, like those of many of his fellow climbers and high altitude porters who risk their life and limb on highest peaks.

Hailing from Shimshal, the valley of mountaineers, he is one of the few climbers who specialises in high-altitude expeditions.

In 2002, a tour operator invited him to join a Spantik (7,027m) expedition. The company organized a training session in which Fazal learnt climbing techniques from two foreign climbers. The mission was successful.

In 2006, he went to K2 for the first time with a Japanese team. He had reached a significant height of 8,000m, but the expedition leader decided that only Japanese members would push for the summit.

In 2010, Fazal Ali joined a 14-member K2 cleanup expedition. They collected about 2 tons of waste till Camp 3.

They found harnesses, dead bodies, cut off arms, and shoes with severed feet in them. From the basecamp, the mules carried all the rubbish to Askole.

In 2011, Fazal Ali helped an Italian climber Mario summit Gasherbrum I (8,080m) in only one week. It was Fazal’s first 8,000er.

In 2013, he successfully climbed Broadpeak (8,047m).

In 2014, Fazal took part in his first K2 expedition that included seven Nepali Sherpas and two Pakistani HAPs. It was his first K2 ascent.

In 2016, he went to K2 again with an American female climber and her group. After Camp 3, Fazal Ali and other HAPs ascended to deposit climbing gear to Camp 4. They fixed ropes along the way and set up the tents. When they returned, they heard an explosion. They went back up to see what had happened.

The expedition got cancelled, but in 2017, the American woman returned. This time they were successful. It took them only 16 days to finally reach the summit.

In 2018, Fazal Ali was again on K2 with a team. They had crossed the dangerous bottleneck but were facing a 150km/hour windstorm. Continuing further up could have been fatal. Fazal and his colleague, a Nepali sherpa, advised their client to cancel the expedition, but she said, “I would rather commit suicide here than return without a summit.”

They decided to go ahead with her. This time, it took them only nine days in total to scale the mountain. Thus, Fazal Ali became the only person in the world to summit K2 three times. He spent 1:20 hours at the top.

K2 is the deadliest mountain amongst the world’s five highest peaks, far more challenging than the Everest. Whereas Mount Everest has seen over 7,000 summits; K2, only a few hundred times.

People like Fazal Ali are the true ambassadors of the country. They are the ones helping foreign climbers fulfil their lifelong dreams on the mountains by putting their own lives at risk, wrote blogger and traveller KamranOnBike.

The love for K2 runs deep in Shimshali HAPs veins.

Others who climbed K2 this year

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