Scaling new heights

August 14, 2022

“I missed many chances of attempting some peaks because of lack of resources but I never gave up,” says young climber Shehroze Kashif

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It is the dream of every mountaineer to hoist the flag of his country on all the highest mountains in the world. With this determination, young mountaineer Shehroze Kashif has climbed ten 8000-metre peaks. His journey of climbing the mountains continues.

The risks involved in this adventurous journey have not stopped him. A few days ago the adventure enthusiast achieved another milestone, scaling Gasherbrum-II 8,035m, the 13th highest mountain in the world.

On Friday morning, Shehroze created history, becoming the youngest ever climber in the world -- surpassing climber Britain’s Adriana Brownlee’s record -- to summit ten peaks of over 8,000m.

Shehroze scaled the world's 11th highest mountain peak Gasherbrum I. The record-breaking climber's ultimate desire is to summit the remaining four highest peaks which are situated in Nepal and China.

Shehroze started climbing mountains at the age of 11. His first big achievement was scaling Makra Peak which is situated in the Hazara Region of the Himalayas.

Thus started a row of difficult expeditions over the years with Shehroze peaking the 4,080m Musa Ka Musalla at the age of 12; 4,600m Chambra Peak the same year; 6,050m Manglik Sar in Shimshal at 13; 5,585m Gondogoro La K2 base camp at 14; 5,800m Khurdo Pin Pass at 15; and then reaching the 8,848.86-metre peak.

He is the youngest Pakistani to have climbed the 8,047-metre Broad Peak at the age of 17, which earned him the title of 'Broad Boy'. At the age of 18, he also scaled the 6,050m Khusar Gang.

In 2019, he scaled the world's highest peak Mount Everest and became the youngest Pakistani and fourth youngest mountaineer in the world to have summited it.

On July 27, 2021, he summited K2, at 8,611m, the second highest mountain in the world.

On May 5, 2022, Shehroze summited the Kanchenjunga, at 8,586 meters, the third highest mountain in the world.

On May 16, 2022, Kashif summited the Lhotse, at 8,516, the fourth highest mountain in the world.

Remembering the memorable moments of Gasherbrum II expedition recently, Shehroze told 'The News on Sunday', "GII is easier than K2 and Nanga Parbat. For this summit, I had to wait plenty of time at the basecamp since most of the team members were attempting K2."

Shehroze declared the recent Nanga Parbat expeditions as the most dangerous. Recalling the moments while descending to Camp3, Shehroze said, "The killer mountain tested my skills, patience, resilience, and power.

"On 5th July me and Fazal Ali coming back from the summit at around 7500m lost contact to base camp due to bad weather. We dug a small hole where our heads could fit in and waited for the weather to improve and for sunrise in the open sky without our sleeping bags or anything to eat.

"We were anticipating death anytime since our oxygen level was low and we hadn't eaten or drunk in the last 32 hours. But it was just a miracle that we survived. We woke up around 4:30 and made our way to camp 3. We slept, ate well, and descended to camp 1 on our own," Shehroze added.

The enthusiastic mountain climber attributed the successful adventure expeditions to the mountains to the unwavering support of his parents. "My parents have been most supportive throughout my mountaineering career," he added.

"I love mountains. I can't give up my passion. There have been financial issues. I missed many chances of attempting some peaks because of lack of resources but I never gave up," he added.

He said the government announced awards for him, but the promises have not been fulfilled yet.

Shehroze said his father always encouraged and supported him. "I have been the most hapless mountaineer. I have achieved so much for Pakistan without financial support from the government or the private sector. I have met President Arif Alvi and some of the ministers but everyone just appreciated, promised, but never helped me financially," he said.

Shehroze's father sold his land and car for his son's Mount Everest expedition. "A few private sector companies supported me, but it was not enough to cover the whole expedition. The PSB promised to give Rs1 million which does not even cover 10 percent of the expedition. When I received the cheque it was only Rs450,000 and their excuse was 'We don't have money," he said.

Shehroze was inspired by Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner, who did the first solo ascent of Mount Everest. He was the first to ascend Everest without supplemental oxygen.

The young mountaineer paid tribute to legendary mountaineer Mohammad Ali Sadpara. "He will always be in our hearts. For others, he became a hero after his death on K2 but for mountaineers like us, he was a hero from day one. Ali Sadpara was the one who encouraged me to go to Mount Everest. Unfortunately, he died just a few months before my expedition," he said.

The young mountaineer is unhappy with the lack of tourism facilities in Pakistan. "I am unsatisfied with the facilities available to climbers in Pakistan. Look at Nepal. They have facilitated tourists and attracted them from around the globe. Nepal doesn't have anything other than mountains. Their tourism revenue is beyond our imagination," he said.

Shehroze urged the government to take interest in mountaineering and support the mountaineers financially.

Shehroze said the work of porters and climbers for promoting the soft image of Pakistan should be recognized. "We don't know the issues of people who are living in or around the mountains," he said.

Shehroze said it was regrettable that WAPDA offered him a job as a clerk when he conquered K2. "When I requested them to offer me a better scale of 16 or 17 they simply said they did not recognise mountaineering as a sport," he added.

"How do you expect tourism to flourish when mountaineers are treated this way!" he said.

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