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  A true story in Pakistan


A true story

A climber on his rest day listens to a walkie-talkie and realizes that a Pakistani altitude porter is coming down the glacier in trouble, facing bad weather, heavily charged and weak, because he hasn’t had anything to eat in two days and he has altitude sickness. He gets out of his tent, grabs an empty pack and an ice axe and walks up the glacier, looking for this porter and his client.

Apparently, they were much farther tan it seemed, almost at Camp I in the Gasherbrum mountains. Normally, you would need climbing boots with crampons, an ice axe and someone to be roped with, but the urgency made this climber from a different expedition just to go up without thinking too much. He comes across other climbers and some of them even talk harsh trying to convince him to leave the glacier. But this man is determined to look for Ali, the porter.

After two hours, he sees the Pakistani resting on the snow with his client. They were really slow! The climber did not say much, showed his empty pack and, in silence, transferred the load (about 20kg) to his bag. “Have a drink and see you in Base Camp”, he salutes on his way down. It kept snowing, visibility was poor and crevasse crossing was a real danger.

The climber returns alone, and very quickly, to Base Camp, where Pakistani staff from different expeditions was waiting with warm drinks.

After the climber changed to dry clothes and Ali and his client had also arrived, the climber was invited to eat in the kitchen, sitting on a mattress, like they do, next to the warm stove. Ali, father of five, said something like “good man, good heart” and they just eat with silenced smiles. It seems the food was king of special, maybe it  really was…

During the afternoon and the next day, this climber kept having meetings with other Pakistani Base Camp staff and high altitude porters. They were impressed and they wanted to meet the climber that went up to help a Pakistani porter… now they salute differently, shaking hands slowly, after putting the same hand over the heart and at the same time gently bending forward. Meanwhile, they whisper words the climber does not understand.

This climber, a man who has summited Everest without bottled oxygen and is now attempting Gasherbrum I, tells me this story only a couple of weeks after he helped saving the only survivor of a group of porters who drowned near Askole. He feels strong pain in his eyes, because he also forgot to wear sunglasses when he climbed to help the Pakistani porter.  

I ear his voice on the satellite-phone and I know I must share this with everyone who loves mountains. He doesn’t want his name to be revealed, but it’s not so difficult to find out…

Luís Francisco

(note this is story is getting a little old now (7-10 days... the climber summited....)

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