I’m sure by now many of you have heard the tragic news that came out of Pakistan this weekend where a group of gunmen stormed Base Camp on Nanga Parbat and killed 10 climbers there. The incident took place in BC on the Diamir Face at approximately 10 PM on Saturday evening when the gunman stormed the camp, tied up the climbers and proceeded to shoot them. The dead include three Ukrainians, two Chinese, two Slovakians, one Chinese-American, one Lithuanian and one Nepali. The killers also shot and killed a Pakistani guide.
A branch of the Pakistani Taliban has taken responsibility for the action which is the first of its kind against mountaineers. They say that the killings were in retaliation for an American drone strike that killed one of their leaders.
Nanga Parbat, much like the other 8000-meter peaks in Pakistan, is located in a very remote region of the country. It takes days of travel just to get to BC and it is far from any major cities or towns. Regional police have moved into the area now however and have closed it off to travelers. There have even been reports that some climbers who were still in transit have been turned back for now. Alan Arnette estimates that there are more than 50 climbers still on Nanga Parbat and he says that eight Sherpas were fixing lines higher up the mountain when the attack happened. There is no word yet if the teams will be allowed to stay or if they’ll be forced to leave BC. There have been no reports of violence on any of the other big peaks in the country at this time.
While everyone who travels to Pakistan knows that the country has some dangerous areas the mountains have always been safe to climbers. Most visitors say that the capital of Islamabad can be challenging, but once you’ve left the city behind and head out into the countryside, it is a safe place to be. There are militant factions throughout the country, but for the most part they have left the mountaineers alone. It is too early to say if this will become a trend and climbers will begin to think twice before traveling there, but it certainly is unsettling news.
My condolences go out to the friends and families of those who were senselessly murdered. They traveled to Pakistan thinking they were going on an adventure and their lives were taken by violent men seeking revenge against a group of people who had nothing to do with the drone strike that sparked this incident.
It is all such a waste.
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