Climbing duo to attempt sixth peak in Seven Summits mission
By Jamal Shahid
ISLAMABAD: Climbing duo Samina Baig and her brother Mirza Ali are on their way to completing the Seven Summits mission, as they leave Friday night to attempt to climb Mt. McKinley in Alaska.
The siblings are pan of a six-meml>er Adventure Diplomacy Group on a mission to conquer the seven highest peaks on all seven continents.
While Baig has conquered five of the highest peaks in the world – including Mt Everest in May 2013 – Ali has yet to climb the highest mountain in the world.
His plans to attempt the 8,848 metre climb were cancelled after an avalanche in April this year took the lives of 16 porter* and injured four others.
“I didn’t even have time to leave for Nepal,” Ali said, “but I will attempt Mt. Everest next year”.
Me plans to reach the top without an oxygen cylinder, which is no easy feat.
Baig recently gained recognition when she bccame the first Pakistani woman to summit Everest
Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, the siblings shared their plans to climb Mt. McKinley (6,168 metres), despite the numerous challenges that could await them in Alaska
“The elevation gain of the |>eak is higher than Ml. Everest, which means that base camp is at 2,000 metres – compared to roughly 4,000 metres at Everest. This means the climb from base camp to the top will be longer,” Ali explained.
“There also won’t be any porters, which means we will have to carry’ our gear ourselves,” Baig added. But carrying their own gear would be the least of their concerns.
According to Ali. climate change has made mountaineering incredibly dangerous. Avalanches have claimcd 16 lives on Everest, four on Mt. Makalu, – the fifth highest peak in the world on the border of Nejwl and China – and another six on Mt. Rainier in the United States of America (USA).
“All peaks have their own challenges. Mt. McKinlcy is all ice. so it will be extremely cold. But rising temperatures adds to our list of concerns,” Ali said, and added that frequent avalanches had the international mountaineering community on edge.
Talking about the peaks they have already conquered, the duo said Mt. Kilimanjaro Mas the hardest to summit.
“It seemed like it would be a walk in the park, but the weather changed so fast, many climl>ers were forced to abandon the mission. Heavy rain and snow, which are rarely so extreme, made the climb
harder than we expected,” Baig said.
In order to complete the challenge, each member of the international expedition will have to reach the top – which means that both Baig and Ali will have to reach the top separately.
“Each team member depends on the other. But each member has to reach the-top to complete the challenge of conquering the seven highest peaks in the world.” Ali said.
Over the last six months. Baig and Ali have made history, climbing Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina. South America’s second highest peak, in December 2013, Antarctica’s Mt. Vinson in January. Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in February, and Mt. Carstensj: Pyramid, the highest peak in Indonesia in March.
With no support from the Pakistani government, the duo’s expenses arc-picked up by a few embassies in Islamabad, fellow climbers abroad and managed by the Serena Hotels group.
Following their mission in Alaska, the Adventure Diplomacy Group will fly to Russia to climb the highest mountain in Europe, Ml. Elbrus, which stands 5,642 metres tall.
This mission would bring the Seven Summit challenge to an end.
At the briefing, Ali also announced plans to launch a 30-minute documentary titled “Beyond the Heights’, which is
based on his sister’s Mt. Everest climb.
“The documentary aims to inspire Pakistan’s youth to follow their dreams,” Baig said, who has become a role model for many young people.
Baig lamented the lack of opportunities and the neglected state of athletic activities for the youth. “The more playgrounds and outdoor activities we have, the fewer hospitals we will need,” she said.
SAMINA Baig and her brother Mrza Afi are part of the Adventure Diplomacy Group, on a mission to summit the seven highest peaks on the seven continents.