Amical cancels expeditions to Pakistan
“It’s just too exciting”, says Dominik Mueller. The head of the German operator Amical alpin has called off all its expeditions and treks in Pakistan that were originally planned for the summer of 2015. “Due to the uncertain situation in Pakistan and the conflicts that flare up time and again in the areas around Gilgit and Chilas, we have reluctantly decided to take this step”, it says on Amical’s website. “We are worried about the violence of the Taliban, various subgroups and not least of religious factions. Thus we had no option.”
Warning of foreign ministries
For this summer, Amical Alpin initially had offered commercial expeditions to the eight-thousanders Gasherbrum II and Broad Peak in Karakoram, as well as the popular trekking route across the Baltoro Glacier to Concordia with the return over Gondogoro La, a 5650-meter-high mountain pass. “It was damned hard for me to take this decision”, Dominik tells me on the phone. “The military offensive against the Taliban has increased the risk of terrorist attack”, says the 44-year-old and refers to such warnings of the foreign ministries of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The demand for eight-thousander expeditions in Pakistan has been rather low, says Dominik. Many clients asked him about the security situation in the country: “I preferred to communicate openly instead of blandishing the problems and having to blame myself afterwards.” He says, he doesn’t know if other operators are also thinking about canceling their expeditions to Pakistan in 2015.
Wait and see
He might have taken another decision, if flights to the north of the country could be guaranteed, says Dominik. But it is more often the rule that flights are cancelled and therefore expedition and trekking groups have to go by jeeps or busses via the Karakoram Highway, through crisis areas such as around the town of Chilas. “We will monitor the situation and hope that the new ‘High Altitude Police Unit’ will be fully launched until next year, perhaps leading to an improved situation that allows us to offer mountain adventures in Pakistan in good conscience again”, it says on the website of Amical alpin. In June 2013, eleven mountaineers were killed by Islamist terrorists at the base camp on the Diamir side of Nanga Parbat. Tourism in Pakistan has collapsed in recent years because many tourists stay off for fear of terrorist attacks.
Update 24 March: The Broad Peak expedition of the German operator DAV Summit Club was cancelled too. “Due to the security situation, not enough people signed up for it”, says product manager Christoph Schnurr.
Date23. March 2015 | 15:18
TagsAmical Alpin, Broad Peak, Chilas, Dominik Mueller, Expedition, Gasherbrum II, Gilgit, Pakistan, Safety situation