‘Look, I did it without you’

I lost my brother but not the courage we shared, says the award-winning documentary ‘Unsung Heroes’ Pakistan Shero fame climber Shakela Nazar

By Raheem Sherazi

Shakeela and Nadeema during the climb of Yazghel Sar Peak in Shimshal. Photo: Qudrat Ali

“Look! I did what I could not in your life without you.”

These are the words of Shakila Numa, one of the bravest women from Shimshal, the character of the ‘Pakistan Shero’, an award-winning documentary for its best story.

The documentary was made during the summit of Yazghel Sar Peak in Shimshal Valley, Upper Hunza in harsh winter with minus 35 degree Celsius low temperature.

This story, that won European Union award for Shakila’s courage, resilience, and feat in winter expedition 2021, would help young men and women to accept any challenge in their life. It would also help them to understand the reality and circumstances and not to let themselves down while facing any adversity, rather make it their strength to fight and pursue their dream in life. It is possible only when you try to transform your imagination and thoughts into reality.

Yazghil Sar expedition during their winter climb. Photo by Abdul Joshi

Breaking taboos, stereotypes and setting your eyes on lofty goals through hard work and faith in your strength and always coming out of your comfort zone, are the golden rules that enable one to overcome challenges and achieve the goals. Doing something new and unique will bring you something exceptional you want to achieve.

“It always etches my heart and brings me to tears when I think about the tragic incident that occurred at Melvin Jone’s Peak in June 2019. The avalanche hit us and snatched my brother from me forever,” recalls Shakila, a young, resilient and brave women who was given the ‘Pakistan Shero’ award for 2020 by European Union. The story has been skilfully documented by ‘Kamran on Bike’.

Abdul Joshi with Shakeela and Nadeema on tio of Yazghel Sar peak in Shimshal. Photo by Wahab Ali Shah

“It was a dark night with a crystal clear sky on the summit day on 17th of June 2019, around 1am in the morning. The team was energetic, enthusiastic and committed to celebrating the memorable moment on the top of the summit,” Shakila narrated.

“This is how we think and plan in our mundane daily life. But in mountaineering despite all the plans you make, there is always an element of unpredictable incidents and risks. There are no guarantees of your plan to become true or you could execute the way you have planned it for the next day or months etc,” Shakila said.

fILE PHOTO: Shakeela Numa (5th from L) and Nadeema Sahar with Imtiaz Ahmed (2nd from R), Tracisio Bello, (4th from L) the leader of the Pakistan-Italian expedition to Mervin Jones peak in Hindu Kush Ranges in 2019. They were hit by an avalanche 500m off the summit killing Imtiaz, brother of Shakeela. Credit: Tracisio Bello

She added further that it was what they had experienced in 2019 when a seven-member joint Pakistan-Italian Expedition including four climbers from Italy led by Mr Tracisio Bello and three members from Shimshal, northern Pakistan including her brother Imtiaz Ahmed, their mountain guide, and Nadeema, her climbing partner – embarked on the expedition of the secluded unscaled peak in the Hindu Kush mountains.

“As we were planning to push for the summit at about 8 am, we felt a horrifying sound and then saw a wave of ice and snow moving toward us at about 500m off the summit while the team leader Tracisio was 50 meters above us. I told my brother Imtiaz (late), there is an avalanche to hit us, please save us. ‘No need to worry. Everything will be fine. Nothing will harm us there. Don’t worry I am here,’ was the reply that we received from him.” Shakeela narrated quoting her brother’s last words.

Meanwhile, the avalanche hit us and then swept us 600 meters down. When I opened my eyes, it was a strange place, and I was there all alone near the body of my brother.

I called him and Nadeema for help but there was no response. Imtiaz had already said goodbye to us and left for his final abode. I called Nadeema many times but she was not there. After being stuck there for 24 hours, on the ice, it was a miracle that I am still alive. In the middle of the night, I felt the harsh cold in my feet as I lost my climbing boots and covered myself, especially my feet with my jacket. This is how I was half dead, it’s not normal to bear such tragedy while you are already injured badly. The whole night was just something strange for me that cannot be described in words.

 Nadeema was luckily safe and she helped the other injured members to descend them dawn to the camp-2 and never returned as she was not allowed by the team leader to move again up to save me, as it was dangerous for her to go up and help me alone. It was risky too.

The next day, she said, after spending the night alone without a sleeping bag and food on a harsh and freezing altitude, I was unable to figure out whether it was some illusion or a real situation. I was moving down even without being fully in my senses. In such a situation, where you feel and see the death just inches away, one needs the courage and bravery to accept it and take bold action to save yourself.

Shakeela narrated further that when I saw the Army helicopter came to rescue us and then I was lifted down to Ishkoman, Immit Village. I met Nadeema, Tracisio and others there, but still, Imtiaz was missing. During our treatment in a hospital in Gilgit, I was told about the devastating news that he is no more.

His body was rescued by the brave Shimshali climbers, led by Qudrat Ali, a veteran mountaineer with Rehmatullah Baig, K-2 Summiteer, Wahab, a rescue expert, and Shaheen Baig, the leopard of the ice.

“Recently, we did summit the 5,964m (19567 feet) high Yazghel Sar Peak, with my mentor and cousin Qudrat Ali, Abdul Joshi and Nadeema Sahar. This expedition was organized by Saad Munawar, a blogger and climber, who works for the empowerment of women of the remote valley as well as promoting their achievements and enhancing their skills.

The route has been named after Qudrat Ali, who is famous for his extreme adventure, exploration, and technical expertise. He is the only climber who has climbed four peaks of over 8000m high in Pakistan and Nepal with internationally known mountaineers such as Rolf Bae of Norway, Simon Moro of Italy and others.

Also see this: https://youtu.be/KrfG_rbO6WQ


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