Sunday, April 14, 2013

Heli Skiing the Unspoiled Peaks of the Karakoram - Courtesy Pakistan Army

[Photo: Mountain Hardware/Facebook]

Tourism has no bounds - but unless the tourism is given the innovative touch, the very concept of roaming in wilderness soon crashed due to boredom and inertia.

Pakistan is a God gifted country with lush green plains, scorching deserts, semi mountainous to snow covered mountains of the three major mountain ranges of the world: The Himalaya,  Karakoram and the Hindu Kush. Each year, many expeditions come to Pakistan to scale the scaled and un-scaled mountains peaks both in summers and winters to be part of those countless mountaineers who have ventured the mighty peaks of Pakistan, some of which are known for their treacherous gradients and difficulty in going. 

K-2, the second highest peak after Everest, is one - which according to mountaineers is more difficult to attempt than the Everest. Likewise Nanga Parbat, the only Himalayan Peak out of the five eight thousanders that are located in Pakistan - rest four eight thousanders are in the Karakoram Range (Karakoram in local language means 'black gravel'). I have written much about the five of the fourteen eight thousanders that are located in Pakistan.

Now coming back to the ingenuity, innovation and vision in planning tourism. Awhile ago a Himalayas International Mountain-bike Race 2011 was held in Pakistan, that brought many a world class bikers to ride the treacherous tracks on the top of the world. Now just this month, another tourism adventure the 'Heli Skiing of the unspoiled peaks of the Karakoram' has been undertaken by Pakistan Army Aviation, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) of Pakistan Army in collaboration with the Walkabout Films, a Pakistani film production company that focuses on extreme sports, wildlife and natural heritage

The very concept attracted an 11-member team of some of the world's top skiers to Pakistan in the first week of April to take on a daring challenge in the world's highest mountain range. Their goal was to heli-ski in the 5,000 metre high peaks of the Karakoram Range, that has four of the world's fourteen peaks with a height of 8,000 metres and above.

In the event, nicknamed "Pakistan Pure Discovery", the heli-skiers from France, Canada, Russia, Serbia, Ireland and Switzerland, gathered in Skardu from where they were transported to the peaks by helicopter. The group also included  Samyra Rashid, a Pakistani designer who runs a successful women's fashion business. She became the first Pakistani as well as the first woman to ski in the Karakoram range.

Watch a video by CNN:

One of the skiers Brice Lequetier from France, who is also the European Champion and the honour of climbing the Everest in 2003 said:
"We managed to get dropped at an altitude of almost 5,000 meters, with our skis and mountain equipment, and we skied down. So far it's a great success, because its very exciting to do something new, something that nobody has even done before."
Another skier Cedonir Chadda from Serbia was really ecstatic: 
"We are the first men on this beautiful part of Himalayan Karakoram range, and really my advice is that everybody has to see Pakistan."

And certainly for Samyra Rashid from Pakistan, this was a unique experience and honour for being the first Pakistan women ever to ski on the slopes of the Karakoram. She describerd her experience as under: 
"Its been the most amazing opportunity in the world to come here and ski in the Karakoram mountain range. We have brought skiers from all over the world, from Russia, from Serbia, from Canada, from Switzerland, and they have skied everywhere in the world you can imagine."
Watch the video below by NTD Television to view the challenges and excitement of heli-skiing on the Karakoram:

And as I said, innovation does matter and bringing some of the world class skiiers to the slopes of Karakoram was certainly a bold initiative taken by Pakistan Army and the the Walkabout Films to introduce to the world the beauty and challenges that await the ones who dare.

[via NTD Television]

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