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Asia, Pakistan, Pir Peak, Winter Ascent

Pir Peak, Winter Ascent. The Alpine Club of Pakistan launched its first winter mountaineering expedition to Pir Peak (6363m) in the Shimshal Valley, Hunza. The team left Rawalpindi on February 17, 1999, for a period of 20 days. This expedition, which comprised ten young climbers, was launched with a view to train young climbers in high-altitude mountaineering, especially in winter conditions. Muhammad Nasir Awan, an experienced and a very active member of Alpine Club of Pakistan, led the expedition. Accompanying him were Aman Khan, deputy leader; Muhammad Shahid Saleem, Naeem Shaukat, Umer bin Abdul Aziz, Wahab Ali Shah, Ghulam Amin, Ali Musa, Bakhatawar Shah, and Rahmat Ullah Baig.

The expedition reached Shimshal on February 21. Two more senior members were admitted to participate in the expedition: Rajab Shah, who had trained many of the young climbers, and Shambi Khan from Shimshal. Base Camp (4515m) was reached on the 23rd. The trek in was conducted through about three feet of deep snow. The weather was extremely bad due to continuous snowfall. The trail-breaking was very difficult. On the 24th, the first group (Aman Khan, Bakhtawar, Ali Musa and Shambi Khan) went in the early morning to establish Cl at 4900 meters. The members cached equipment and food there and began breaking trail up to CII at 5420 meters, which took another three hours. After caching their loads, they returned to Base Camp in five hours. On the 25th, groups one and two (Umer bin Abdul Aziz, Shahid Saleem, Wahab Ali, Ghulam Amin and Rehmat Ullah Baig) started early in the morning for CII, which they reached in six hours. It was cloudy; after lunch at CII, two members from the first group and two members from the second group went for the summit, which they reached in five hours. Due to bad weather, they were not able to take proper photographs before returning to CII.

On February 26, groups one and two started climbing for the summit early in the morning in good weather. With the trail already broken, they reached the summit in four hours. After taking photos and resting on the summit, they came back to CII. After a light lunch at CII, they packed two tents and started back to BC. They left some food, equipment and one tent at CII for the third group (Muhammad Nasir Awan, Rajab Shah, and Naeeem Shaukat). As the group started descending, an avalanche caught Rehmat Ullah Baig and Shambi Khan, who were behind the other members checking the sight of CII, and carried them down almost to BC. Luckily, the rest of the members remained safe from the avalanche. Aman Khan immediately informed BC about the accident. At BC, Muhammad Nasir Awan and Rajab Shah canceled their own program to come up at CII and rushed to rescue the injured. After ten minutes, Rehmat Ullah Baig contacted them by walkie-talkie and told them that he and Shambi Khan were OK. Nasir Awan and Rajab Shah soon reached Rehmat Ullah Baig and Shambi Khan and transported them slowly to BC. Shambi Khan was seriously injured and bleeding from his wounds. The rest of the team also reached the base safely, bringing with them the remaining equipment from CII. They took more than seven hours to descend because the avalanche had totally destroyed the climbing route. After this accident, the third group canceled their summit bid and the expedition was ended. All members of the expedition were in good health by the time they reached Islamabad on March 5.

Muhammad Nasir Awan, Pakistan