“I had dreams, crazy ones,” says Nazir Sabir, the first Pakistani who ascended the roof of the world, the Mount Everest, and hoisted the green flag on the Summit on May 17, 2000. His dreams were just the contrary to those of typical villagers; they aspire to get out of the mountainous ranges, Nazir dreamt to go into the mountains. As he dreamt, he became a mountaineer.
Starting his climbing career in 1974, he has left his footprints on the heads of five 8000 meter high mountains. He was the first commoner who beat the Royal Mir family of Hunza in 1994 elections for the General Legislative Provincial Assembly of Gilgit Baltistan and served as advisor on education and tourism for five years. He is the only Pakistani to have been awarded honorary membership of the Alpine Club (UK) in 1992, the Polish Mountaineering Federation in 2002 and the American Alpine Club in 2008. He was awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2001 for outstanding performance in mountaineering sports.
A Lot has been written about his accomplishments, and sure, a lot more is to come. It would be unfair to write about Nazir’s career without narrating any expedition. But, narrating an expedition to a mountain as high as 8000 meters merely in 800 words would be unjust either. Nazir’s fascinating stories better be heard in his own voice to have a feeling of all the emotions, reminiscence, nostalgia, amusement and ecstasy coming along with his words. Sharing a piece of his story that has meaningful lessons for people who may not get a chance to hear Nazir narrating the story is, however, plausible.
I recently attended a talk from Nazir Sabir, and believe me it revived my poor soul who I had, so cruelly, confined to studies and plans about career. Here I am trying to recall two bits of Nazir’s expeditions to K-2, the killer Mountain, from the talk.
First Expedition to K-2
“…Two of my friends and I were just about a 100 meters short of the summit. But we were trapped; trapped in a sugar-like snow where a single miscalculated step could have led to death. Other colleagues, down in the camp, kept insisting to descend back to camp; we were eager to reach the summit, so we didn’t go back. We dug holes in the snow and spent a whole night in the hole. We kept awake all night because sleeping lowers blood circulation and lower blood circulation at an altitude of 8000 meter simply means death. The next day, conditions got even worse; with heavy winds coming our way, the snow became even more slippery, and impeded our climb to the summit. We grudgingly decided to return to base camp after the unsuccessful expedition, I cried and we five colleagues promised to come again to accomplish the summit. By the second expedition, out of the five who promised to reach the summit, 4 lost their lives in different mountains and i was the only one alive, carrying the promise on my shoulder…”
Sighs and takes a sip of water.
Second Expedition and the summit
“…After 3 sleepless nights and 36 hours of hunger, there i was, standing 10 meters away from the K-2 summit. I waited for my Japanese fellow to catch-up. As he approached me I told him to step ahead and take the glory of being at the summit first. He said, “No, Nazir! These are your mountains, so, you go first”. Eventually, we walked the remaining 10 meters hand in hand.
I bent down on my knees and prayed for the departed souls of my five fellows whom i indebted the promise. That moment and the sense of elation and fulfillment is beyond description…”These two anecdotes are but a very small fraction of the enriching stories that Nazir Sabir has to share with us. Put yourself into the situation and imagine the pain of calamity, and the honor of accomplishment. No equals.
They say follow your dreams if you want to be successful. But success comes at a price; dedication and endurance are principles. The above two bits of Nazir’s stories, and many others that remain untold, are quintessential examples of dedication and endurance. The kid who used to walk 6 miles each side to attend school flies thousands of miles around the globe. Talks to people about the nature and the mystics of mountains, informs them and entertains them. His vision is to bring the youth close to nature. He delivers lectures in universities across the globe; he is an ambassador of Nature and Mountains, and Pakistan, of course.
Hats off to Nazir!
The contributor is a student at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).