Taking no risks on Nanga Parbat
The Taliban attack on the basecamp at the Diamir side of Nanga parbat has left even Pakistan experts stunned. „We have been caught cold“, Eberhard Andres told me. He is working for the German trekking agency Hauser Exkursionen and is responsible for trips to Pakistan. „It was really the first time that something like this has happened.“ Last weekend Taliban terrorists had attacked the Diamir basecamp and killed eleven climbers: three Chinese, three Ukrainians, two Slovaks, a Lithuanian, a Nepalese and a Pakistani. The attack was of „a completely new quality“, Dominik Müller, head of the agency Amical Alpin, said to me. Swiss expedition organizer Kari Kobler is shocked as well: „We knew that Pakistan can be a dangerous place. But not in the north!“ All of them expect negative consequences for mountain tourism in Pakistan, which had just began to get back on its feet after lean years as a result of the tense political situation.
Nanga Parbat expedition 2014 will be cancelled
„The assassination changed the whole situation,“ Kari Kobler said. „This is really bad for Pakistan.” He has heard that the army would send 70,000 more troops to the region. „But that’s just a drop in the ocean.“ Kari told me that he fortunately had no clients on Nanga Parbat just now. „We will cancel the planned expedition to the mountain in 2014. You can not do that.“
Hauser has to react more quickly. Actually on 8th July a group should start to Pakistan to trek around Nanga Parbat. „It doesn’t make sense now to take any risk on Nanga Parbat“, Eberhard Andres said. He is in contact with the clients to look for alternatives. „But it would be wrong to say we close the chapter Pakistan for years.“ According to Andres trips to Pakistan were „fully booked“ in 2013. The fascinating mountains of the Karakoram had increasingly been considered as an insider tip among trekkers and as an alternative to the classic routes in Nepal. „It has gotten about that one did not feel endangered on the spot.“
Police escort on Karakoram Highway
But this feeling could now be lost on Nanga Parbat. „We have to wait and see what the Pakistani government is doing,“ Dominik Müller said. The head of Amical had visited Nanga Parbat previously three years ago and had felt the situation in the Diamir valley to be problematic. „There were conflicts between the clans.“ Dominik said, there was no military post in the region. „An officer was referred to us but didn’t accompany us to the mountain.“ Due to this experience Müller had not taken Nanga Parbat into the Amical program for 2013. „For me the region seemed to be too hot.“ Dominik told me that this year for the first time all expedition groups had got police escorts on the Karakoram Highway in the area around the town of Chilas near Nanga Parbat.
If possible by plane
The organizers from Germany and Switzerland point out that the situation in the more northern areas, around the other four 8000ers of Pakistan, is still safe. The local agencies were now trying to take all mountaineers and trekkers from Islamabad directly by plane to the city of Skardu and back – instead of using buses on the Karakoram Highway. The German Foreign Office has issued a „partial travel warning“ after the attack on Nanga Parbat. The goverment in Berlin advises tourists „to inform themselves fully on the current security situation with Pakistan’s tour operators and authorities before traveling to Gilgit-Baltistan.“
Date25. June 2013 | 11:30