Ashraf Aman first Pakistani to conquer the "killer mountain" K2

Pakistan history in the sports on mountaineering starts when in 1977 first Pakistani succeeded in climbing upto the summit of K2. Ashraf Aman is the first Pakistani to succeed in climbing the K2 summit which is also notoriously known as the "Killer Mountain". It once killed 16 people during a climbing expedition while 7 of them were highly experienced climbers and the rest 9 were high altitude porters.


Fosco Maraini describe the beauty of K2 in his book
"Just the bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man – or of the cindered planet after the last” Fosco Maraini

Around 70 people have died during the climb of this killer mountain. Most recently Fredrik Ericsson who died in 2010, others who lost their lives on K2 include Alison Jane Hargreaves who already climbed the three highest mountains of the world, Tadeusz Piotrowski who was once cosidered as the finest mountaineer of his time and the famous celebrity french mountaineer couple Liliane and Maurice Barrard.
Ashraf Aman born on January 15, 1943 in Aliabad, Hunza a small town located near Hunza Town. He did his Electrical Engineering from N.E.D Engineering University. Besides mountaineering, he has almost 35 years of experience in tourism. He operates the tourism company known as Adventure Tours Pakistan. Recently, he is the vice President of Alpine Club of Pakistan.
This is a small interview of Ashraf Aman.

Question: What areas will be open for trekking/mountaineering next season do you think?

Mr. Ashraf Aman: There are no change of rules and regulations. Previously open areas are still open and all restricted areas still need permits.


Question: Have you ever attempt Mt. Everest if not would you like to?

Mr. Ashraf Aman: I have been to Base camp of Mount Everest Tibet side and Nepal side, every mountaineer want to climb Highest Peak, but need money to climb, Everest is very expensive comparatively to K-2. Now I am too old to climb Everest and I have not been practicing for last many years. I think I cannot climb Everest now, it's a DREAM PEAK.

Question: Can you compare climbing K2 when you reached the Summit in 1977 to today's climbing of K2.

Mr. Ashraf Aman: The days in 1977, we didn't have plastic boots, we had only leather shoes and heavy high altitude cloth, now climbing is very easy due to modern equipment and communication helicopter facilities. I had frost bite. There was no helicopter to rescue. I had to walk out up to Dasso. Every day my doctor had to Bandage my toes, I was walking by help of Ski Poles.

Question: I see you are listed as the ninth person to Summit K2. Since it is old news now, can you tell us what was the order of the summiteers on that expedition including yourself?

Mr. Ashraf Aman: It was Joint Expedition of Pakistan/Japan. Total There were 35 climber from Japan and 5 from Pakistan

1.Three japans Climbers succeeded in first attempt
2.Second attempt one Pakistani three Japanese with no success
3.Three japans and myself with success

Question: As I understand it, few Pakistani Climbers are allowed to Summit K2, most are used as porters, unlike Everest where Sherpa climbers do the work but also are normally allowed to attempt the Summit. Is this true?

Mr. Ashraf Aman:
This is not true, Pakistani high porters are also allowed to climb the K-2. But as compare to Sherpas, Pakistani high porters are not skilled enough. They are not trained properly. Whatever they do, they do it by their own and by previous experience. There are total four Pakistani climbers who have summitted K-2 and two of us are high altitude porters. I was a member of Pak-Japan K-2 expedition. As we compare K-2 with Everest we hardly have 5 to 8 expeditions every year and few of them take high altitude porters with them. This is also a reason of being a small number of local K-2 climbers. While on the other eight thousand peaks in Pakistan there are many good climbers who are ready to climb. So far there has not been a Pakistani expedition organized to K-2.

Question: What do you see as the future of climbing K2? Meaning do you see guided expeditions, more assistance given to individuals, or about the same as now?

Mr. Ashraf Aman: Now K-2 is very easy [Easy is relative to how good you are.] with modern equipment, only need good weather and of course experience, if some expeditions Sponsor they can afford guided expedition.

Question: It is an honor to speak with you. I was wondering if you could tell us more about the efforts to rescue Eric Escoffier and if his body was ever found.

Mr. Ashraf Aman: For me it was one of the saddest news, because I knew Eric, he was not only my client but also a good friend above all he was a very nice and kindhearted human being. I was shocked when I heard the news of his disappearance. I have been searching for him in snow and I did heli search as well, even I sent my guides to different parts. Still I ask my high porters to take a look for him on the mountain and all comes with no positive response. We are still thinking of him. He was a very good climber, but they risk their lives and that's what mountaineers make unique in the sports. I think his body is somewhere under heavy avalanches. May his soul rest in peace.

Mountaineering achievements and honours of Ashraf Awan
1962 – Nanga Parbat Expedition with Germans, Awarded Himalayan Tiger.
1967 – Member, Pakistan Czechoslovakia joint Expedition, Awarded Gold Medal.
1971/76 – Mountain Guide in Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindukush.
1977 – Japan-Pakistan joint Expedition to K2, Became first Pakistani to climb K2 on August 7, and then he was Awarded Presidential Award for, Pride of performance.
1980 – Member of International Karakoram Project, Awarded R.G.S London Fellowship.
1982 – Member of German Gasherbrum I Expedition.
1983/84 – Mountain Guide with different Mountaineering Expeditions.
1985 – Liaison Officer with Japanese Expedition to Nanga Parbat & Passu Peak.
1986 – Member with Karakoram Himalaya Research Expedition led by Professor Keith Miller in Tibet & Western China.
1987/88 – Liaison Officer with first Pakistani K2 Winter Expedition during the extreme cold weather from Dec-1987 to Mar-1988 led by Mr. A. Zawada.
1988 – Manager/Technical Engineer with K2 Italian Scientific Expedition for measuring K2, Gasherbrum I & Gasherbrum II from China side led by Professor Ardito Desio.
1989 – Guided Trekking group on Biafo Hispar Glacier.
1990 – Expedition to Mount Meckaulan Alaska.
1991 – Explored Chillinji Trek, First guided group on Chillinji pass.
1992 – Built two pulley bridges on Karakoram River and foot track between Ishkoman and Warguth.
1995 – L.O. French Spantik Expedition. Introduced Chinese Mountaineers to Pakistani Mountains. Baltoro Trek with BBC World Service.
1996 – Nepal Everest Base Camp Trek.
1997 – Climbed Mont Blanc on the occasion of Golden Jubilee Anniversary of Pakistan. Leader French-Pakistan joint Nanga Parbat Expedition.
1998 – Search for French mountaineer Mr. Eric Escoffier on Broad Peak.
1999 – Awarded Gold Medal UND DEI CENTO in Milan.

Some interesting facts for women climbers: Only 5 women have reached the Summit of K2. Three of the 5 women have died descending from the Summit. Only 2 Wanda and Chantal returned to tell. The 198 summits are by 196 climbers, with Serap Jangbu Sherpa reaching the Summit in 2000 and 2001. Note there is no woman alive today that has summited K2! Both Wanda and Chantal have died on other mountains.
Not a single person of Indian nationality have ever succeed in reaching the summit of K2. Nazir Sabir, Rajab Shah, Meharban Shah are other 3 Pakistani's who have conquered this mountain. There are a total of 22 people who have died during the descent of this summit after climbing to the summit. K2 has a death toll of 1 person every 3rd person who succeed in reaching the summit.

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