The 2022 Karakorum climbing season has begun! Multiple teams have arrived in Pakistan, and many are already trekking the Baltoro Glacier to their respective Base Camps. Of the fourteen 8000-meter peaks, Pakistan is home to five: K2, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak, and Gasherbrum I & II. Without a doubt, some of these are the most difficult 8000ers as are plus countless 6000 and 7000-meter mountains. Those who summited Everest will be shocked when they attempt K2. They are entirely different experiences.
The number of climbers, close to 700, in Pakistan this summer is staggering compared to previous years. I’m concerned about their safety, given the objective dangers presented on the 8000-meter peaks, crowds kicking rocks on other climbers, and the lack of space to establish high camps. The operators need to coordinate movement like they never have to avoid massive confusion, congestion, delays, and potential tragedies.
With that said, I’m delighted to see so much work for the Pakistani operators, High Altitude Workers (aka Pakistani mountain support climbers), porters, and the associated tourism industry. However, it must be noted that the Nepal operators are swamping the climbing in Pakistan and bringing in scores of Sherpas to support their clients along with copious amounts of supplemental oxygen at high flow rates beginning at camps lower than in previous years. It’s similar to what we saw in Nepal, with a record 1.6 Sherpa support for each member across the 8000ers. Perhaps Pakistan will develop enough support that they can be the dominant force in their own mountains.
Record Climbing Year in Pakistan?
After two years of COVID restrictions, the pent-up demand is revealing itself in force across the 6,000 to 8,000-meter peaks. Karrar Haidri, Secretary of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, and Managing Director at Saltoro Summits Treks & Tours Pakistan told me that there are 57 expeditions across 23 peaks this summer with a combined total of 672 permits issued:
- K2: 8611m
- Nanga Parbat: 8126m
- Gasherbrum I: 8068m
- Board Peak: 8047m
- Gasherbrum II: 8035m
- Masherbrum Peak: 7820m
- Saltoro Kangri: 7700m
- Shispare Peak: 7611m
- Muchu Chhish: 7453m
- Sia Kangri: 7400m
- Diran peak: 7260m
- Lupghar Sar: 7200m
- Kuron Kuh: 7164m
- Urdok Kangri:7082
- Spantik Peak: 7027m
- Karun kuh: 6977m
- K7: 6943m
- K7: 6934m
- Pumari Chhish: 6850m
- Dut Sar Peak: 6800m
- Tahu Rutum: 6652m
- Virjerab SarL: 6601m
- Ghamubar zom: 6518m
The Pakistani Operators running climbs or providing logistics for foreign operators this season includes:
- Adventure Pakistan
- Adventure Tours Pakistan
- Alpine Adventure Guide
- Apricot Tours
- Baltoro Adventures
- Baltistan Tours
- Blue Sky Treks and Tours
- High Mountains Treks & Tours
- Higher Ground Expedition Treks and Tours
- Hunza Guides Pakistan
- Jasmine Tours
- Karakorum Expedition
- Lela Peak Expedition
- Nippa International Travel &Tours
- Mashabrum Expedition Treks and Tours
- Mountain Expert Pakistan
- Nippa International Travel &Tours
- North Pakistan Adventure
- Rupal Expedition
- Saltoro Summits
- Summit Karakoram
- World Adventure Tours
As for permits, including members and support climbers (Sherpas and HAWs), the largest number is for the combination of K2 and Broad Peak with a stunning 348 followed by G I & II have a combined total of 101 and Nanga Parbat at 82.
Keep in mind that it has become common for operators to sell the combo of Broad Peak and K2, similar to Everest and Lhotse, but few accomplish this Pakistani double as it requires actually climbing both peaks from their respective base camps, unlike the Everest/Lhotse link.
The Foreign Operators in Pakistan with permits for both members and support, often are 2:1 ratios including:
- 8K Expeditions (Nepal): K2, Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat GI & GII with 37
- Elite Expeditions (Nepal): K2, Broad Peak with 53
- Furtenbach Adventures (Austria): K2, Broad Peak with 30
- Jagged Globe (UK): GII, Spantik with 14
- Kobler & Partner (Switzerland): Broad Peak, G II with 20
- Madison Mountaineering (US): K2, Broad Peak with 24
- Mingma G’s Imagina Nepal (Nepal): K2, Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat with 57
- Pioneer Adventure (Nepal): K2, Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat, and G I & GII with 42
- Seven Summits Treks (Nepal): K2, Broad Peak with 64
Of note German alpinist, Jost Kobach will be alone on the 7453-meter Muchu Chhish Peak. Also. Kristin Harila, is after all five 8000ers in Pakistan after bagging six of Nepal’s eight in April and May. She is after all 14 in record time. If she gets the Pakistan five, she will need to get Cho Oyu, from the Nepal side, then permission from her Chinese for Shishapangma. It remains unclear when she got Manaslu during this effort. She is supported by 8K Expeditions with Sherpas, Dawa Wongchu Sherpa, and Pasdawa Sherpa who will share in the record if set.
As for the largest Pakistani Operators, Karakorum Expeditions led by Mirza Ali’s has 18 clients on K2 and Broad Peak.
And the Other 8000ers
While K2 gets a disproportionate amount of attention, the other four deserve an equal amount of attention.
At 26,362’/8035m. GII is often considered the most attainable of the Karakoram’s 8000ers. There have been about 360 summits of GI and 950 of GII. 32-year-old Pakistani Sirbaz Kahn is on a mission. He wants all fourteen of the 8000ers and has Annapurna and Everest plus six others. Now he will go for G I and G II.
NP is often considered one of the most difficult 800ers with steep rocky faces and plenty of avalanche and rockfall dangers. There are an amazing 82 climbers there this year.
BP is often considered a warm-up for K2 but that grossly understates the difficulty of this 26,414’/8051m peak. About 445 people have summited Broad. Every season people talk about summiting both but it is rarely accomplished as I described in this post last.
I’ll be reporting on progress this season as I did for the Nepal 8000ers season.
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