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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Golden Jubilee of the first Ascent of Nanga Parbat 1953-2003. (2003-17)

Pakistan is the meeting point of three of the world's mightiest and highest mountain ranges i.e. the Karakoram, Hindukush and Himalaya.
The central Himalayan mountains span Nepal reaching upto Bhutan and Sikim in the East and far into Pakistan in the west.
Rising to 8125 meters, ranking ninth highest on Earth, the massive Nanga Parbat stands in isolation like a big bull, guarding the Western bastion of the Great Himalaya. It is one of the five peaks in Pakistan rising above 8000 metres; K2 8611m, Hidden Peak 8068m, Broad Peak 8047m and Gasherbrum II 8035m of the Karakoram being others. Dominating Diamer District of the Northern Areas, Nanga Parbat is bounded by Astore Valley to its Northeast and East, Indus River to its North and lower mountains of Kaghan valley to its West and South. Its prime lay is North-East to South-East, with Doian ridge rising above the confluence of Rivers Astore and Indus and rising to Chongra Peak 6430m connecting it with Raikot Peak 7070m, and Rocky pillars of Silverzacken 7597m through east ridge. It leads further to the silver plateau dominated by Bazhin gap and long sharp rocky crest housing the main 8125m high Nanga Parbat summit, flanked by two subsidiary peaks i.e. North 8070m and South 8042m - a distance of 41 kms. This main Nanga Parbat ridge continues West and Southwest to 15 kms distant Mazeno Pass 5399m and 33 kms distant Tosha Gali, making the main ridge 74 kms long; over 5 kms of its portion lying above 7500m characterized by hazardous rocky, snow and icy steep slopes. Nanga Parbat summit is flanked on the East by highest wall of Rupal face and Bazhin glacier whereas its western flank descends into the Diamer Valley. Formed by the collision of the India-Australian and Eurasian Tectonic plates, Nanga Parbat, continues to rise upward, with equally strong erosion creating the balancing act, geological strata underneath remaining unstable, prone to high seismic activity. Monsoons hit the area in beginning July with heavy snow and storms and lasts till end August, permanent snowline remaining above 4500m. In view of its configuration and climate, Nanga Parbat has always been considered as a treacherous mountain to climb.
The climbing history of Nanga Parbat is replete with incomparable tales of dogged determination, tragedies and tribulations, endured mostly by German, British and Austrian climbers. It was on 3rd July 1953 that legendary Austrian mountaineer Hermann Buhl, climbing as part of a German Expedition, succeeded in setting foot atop Nanga Parbat, defying all myths and evils associated with Di amer. Golden Jubilee of this first ascent of Nanga Parbat fell on 3rd July 2003.
There have been a number of ascents of Nanga Parbat since then. Till date over 200 mountaineers have succeeded in reaching Nanga Parbat's summit, and much lesser than those on Mt Everest (over 1500). At the same time 53 mountaineers tragically lost their lives while attempting it, highest climb to death ratio, rivaled only by Mt Annapurna 8091m of Nepal. The first climbers from Pakistan to succeed in reaching the top were members of a Pakistan Army expedition led by Col. Sher Khan comprising 12 members. Until now 9 climbers from Pakistan have been able to scale the summit. The tale of climbing Nanga Parbat is a never ending story, as the mountaineers continue to climb, setting legends, climbing new routes, adopting new combinations and techniques. As we celebrate Golden Jubilee of First Ascent of Nanga Parbat, we remember and pay homage to all those gallant men from different nations, Who attempted to ascend this gigantic and arduous mountain, climbed it, or were lost in the white expanse of this ferocious fairyland Kingdom of Di amer. Date of Issue (October 06, 2003)