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Friday, November 30, 2007

Pakistan’s unsung heroes: Hassan Sadpara - first Baltistani to climb all 5, 8000ers



(K2Climb.net) Hassan Sadpara has become the first Baltistani climber to have scaled all the five major peaks in Pakistan. You might have noticed his name with hard-core international expeditions - such as the Polish Nanga Parbat winter climb last season.

Unlike Nepal’s top Sherpas; star Pakistani and Tibetan high altitude porters/climbers are little know within the international world of mountaineering, and even less outside of it.

Global warming points for sale

ExplorersWeb’s correspondent in Pakistan Karrar Haidri reports that Hassan climbed Nanga Parbat in 1999, K2 in 2004, both Gasherbrums in 2006, and Broad Peak finally this year.

Born in 1963, Hassan started his mountaineering carrier in 1996 at age 33; inspired by his father. He works out of the Sadpara village which back then lacked electricity although it’s located only 7 kilometers away from Skardu - can’t blame these guys for global warming!

“We never had any books; no one was even registered in our village back when I started my work as a mountain porter,” Hassan told ExlorersWeb.

The underdogs

It’s one thing to climb big walls and 8000ers well-fed and sponsored by multi-national companies; wearing the latest in tech-wear and hiring porters to carry our stuff. It’s another story to start from a dirt house; use whatever gear is handed down and lug others’ belongings up the hills.

Hassan climbed his way to the top of the world from the very bottom of it; even becoming one of the increasingly fewer mountaineers who did K2 without oxygen. So what now?

Hassan on the cover of Alpinist?

Although they would be cool to show the neighbors; the mountaineer is not after glossy pics of himself published in climbing mags - other things are more important in Hassan’s world: “A middle school has been opened by the government in our village now,” he proudly told Karrar. But, “we also need medical facilities,” the eager beaver added.

“The small dispensary we have now is not enough to fulfill the needs of the poor people in our village. If a person is in a critical condition then they must go to Skardu, seven kilometers away. People die on the way,” Hassan said.

Deep inside though, Hassan is just like each one of us, “If I could get sponsors I would proudly take my flag to the top of Mount Everest,” he said. And yet he’s not one of us at all, “I’m just a climber for hire,” Hassan said. “I don’t even have my own trekking agency.”

To date only the Alpine Club of Pakistan has recognized Hassan’s achievements; ACP has requested the Government to honor Hassan with the Presidential Award.

Working hard for the money - in only the past year Hassan has made three major climbs: He summited G2 with the Korean Donga-A G2 team last year, worked as porter for Krzysztof Wielicki’s Polish expedition to winter Nanga Parbat past winter (but became sick early on) and summited Broad Peak as a porter this summer.

While Hassan is the first Baltistani climber to have scaled all the five major peaks in Pakistan; Rajab Shah was the first Pakistani to climb all the five eight thousand meter peaks in the country.

Hassan Sadpara (top image) summited Broad Peak this year on July 12 together with his brother (bottom). Image compiled by ExplorersWeb .


Taken from:
(K2Climb.net)
01:34 am EST Nov 23, 2007

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