Teaching Women Mountaineers in Pakistan
In 2007, a group of American Alpine Club women planned to travel to Pakistan to help organize and teach a Pakistani Women’s Climbing Camp, in conjunction with the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP). That plan was postponed in the wake of the violent siege of the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July 2007. This year, however, the ACP followed through on the original inspiration and organized a training expedition for 22 young women in the mountains of Hunza. ACP president and AAC honorary member Nazir Sabir describes the event:
The Alpine Club of Pakistan organized a Women’s Alpine Mountaineering Training expedition to the Passu Glacier in Hunza from July 10 to 24. Twenty-two female students from Punjab University in Lahore, Fatima Jinnah University in Rawalpindi, and Karakoram University in Gilgit took part. The training was aimed at preparing these girls in rock, ice, and snow climbing techniques that are essential for high-altitude climbing.
The trainees were taken to a 2,800-meter base camp at Borit Lake in Hunza, where they learned rock and ice climbing skills, belaying, and rappelling, and also were equipped with the necessary theoretical knowledge about ecology, geology, geomorphology, navigation, mountain weather and hazards, high-altitude sickness, cure and prevention, waste management, and other mountain-related issues. Apart from this, they were also trained in crevasse rescue techniques and assembling and dismantling fixed ropes. The ACP instructional team was comprised of Afzel Sherazi, Prof. Mehmood Pervaiz, Farid Ahmad, Attaulah Khan, and Muhammad Tauqeer.
After completion of their training, the women climbed Borit Sar (5,640m), did few high-altitude walks, and traversed glacial terrain before returning to Islamabad on July 23. The Alpine Club of Pakistan organized a reception on their return, and a ceremony was held at Sports Complex Islamabad at which Brig. (Retd.) Mir Gulistan Janjua, former governor of the Northwest Frontier Province and a past president of the ACP, distributed certificates among all the participants. Speaking on the occasion, Brig. Janjua applauded the efforts by the Alpine Club and reiterated the need for similar youth training programs in future. Nazir Sabir, president of the ACP, apprised the audience about the scope of the training, thanked the participants for completing such an extensive program, and offered his hope that this effort by the ACP will help shape the future of women’s mountaineering in Pakistan.
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