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18 February 2020

Shimshal Mountaineering School ladies ready for the Karakoram winter, first Pakistani women expedition

Shimshal Mountaineering Shool

The names of Dur Begum, Farzana Fasial, Takat Bika, Shakeela Numa, Merah Jabeen, Gohar Nigar and Hafiza Bano may be unknown to the climbing community, but their goals speak for themselves. These seven women from Shimshal valley will face the Karakoram winter for a 6000er double-header. Not so many climbers around the world would fathom to follow in their footsteps. 

The first Pakistani double-header Women Winter Expedition will kick off on December 25 towards Mangligh Sar (6,050m) and Valyoo Sar (6,030m) during the full calendar of winter. All members are pupils in the Shimshal Mountaineering School, founded in July 2009 by Qutrat Ali and Shaheen Baig, and supported by Italian Simone Moro. 

"All are well trained and experienced: Farzana Fasial and Dur Begum have already scaled 6000ers," Majeed Karim of the school told ExplorersWeb. "Even before the foundation of the school there were many mountaineering activities (Shimshal is known as the mountaineers' village) and, since 2009, we've organized various technical training programs for the students. However, none of the women have climbed in winter yet." 

Qutrat and Shaheen's legacy 

Qudrat (Quadrat) Ali, who will supervise the expedition, attempted winter Broad Peak in winter 2009. Qudrat has also successfully scaled four out of the five 8000ers in Pakistan (except K2) and has attempted Manaslu in Nepal. Co-founder Shaheen Baig has summited K2 and GII, Mustaghata in China, and nine Pakistan 7000ers. He was Simone Moro's mate on two winter attempts on BP in 2007 and 2009 (together with Qutrat). 

"In 1997, Qudrat Ali and Shaheen Baig organized the first winter expedition to an unclimbed peak, Chashken Sar, and successfully scaled the peak," Majeed said. "In 2006, they organized the first local expedition to K2, to prove that the mountaineers from Gilgit Baltistan are second to no one, and have the capability to accept all challenges and bring laurels to the country in the filed of mountaineering." 

"As mountain professionals, Qudrat Ali and Shaheen Baig considered it imperative to establish a school for the younger generations, particularly females, in order to provide them the basic facilities and opportunities to enhance their potential in the field of mountaineering, although it has been an odd fiend for Pakistan women," Majeed Karim added. 

A little help from their friends 

"Setting up a climbing school in such a remote area was not easy, but founders worked hard and used their own expenses to establish the school, which is a non-profit organization. Simone Moro donated the equipment and visited Shimshal to train the students on different climbing techniques. Hereve Barmasse has also visited Shimshal mountaineering school to train the students and provide gear." Source