First Pakistani team of mountaineers summit K2 peak
Islamabad: The first-ever team of Pakistani climbers have reached the top of the world`s second tallest mountain, K2, to mark 60 years since it was first scaled.
"Six members reached the summit at 02:22 am PST today," Sarwar Ali, a high altitude guide of the Nazir Sabir Expeditions, a local expedition company in regular contact with the climbers told AFP.
Amjad Ayub, president of Pakistan Tour Operators Association(PATO), confirmed the summit, which was made without using supplementary oxygen.
"Yes! Six mountaineers from Gilgit-Baltistan have scaled K2 at 2:22 am today (09:22 pm Friday)," he told AFP.
The six climbers are Hassan Jan, Ali Durani, Rahmat Ullah Baig, Ghulam Mehdi, Ali and Muhammad Sadiq. Three Italians are also part of the group.
Unlike Mount Everest that has been summited by nearly 3,500 young and old climbers, K2 has been a much lonelier place with roughly 300 making to its tops since it was first captured 60 years ago. Many climbers have died on the descent.
The 8,611-meter K2 is located on the border between Baltistan, in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China.
It was the country`s first team effort, although individual Pakistani climbers have previously climbed the peak.
The expedition is sponsored by the local Gilgit-Baltistan government and the Italian organisation Ev-k2CNR to mark the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of K2 by Italian climbers on July 31, 1954.
Sadia Danish, the information minister for Gilgit-Baltistan who also heads the tourism department of the region, termed the summit as the first step of revival of tourism in the area.
"The local tourism industry had been badly affected by last year`s killings on Nanga Parbat base camp, the success will help in reviving it" she told AFP.
"Those tourists who had omitted Gilgit-Baltistan from their destination because of last year`s killings will now add it back" she said.
Miss Danish said the local government was doing a number of efforts to boost tourism in the region.
Last year, K2 denied all efforts by climbers to go beyond Camp III due to extreme snow conditions.
The mountain claimed the lives of a mountaineer and his son from New Zeeland - Denali and Marty Schmidt - when an avalanche hit them at the camp last year.
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