Obituary: A reflection on the fatal Pakistani-Italian Friendship Expedition on Melvin Jones Peak

Rehmat Raheem Sherazi                                                                                    

Adventure is different from other sports; it is full of thrill and risks, often a struggle against defying death. The Pakistani-Italian Friendship Expedition Melvin Jones Peak Ghutolti Ishkoman Hindukush was no different.

The journey started with zeal and enthusiasm to climb the peak that was unsuccessfully attempted by the same climbers in 2018. It was also attempted by many solo and group expeditions, without success.

For the seven climbers – four Italians and three Pakistanis, including two female students of Karakorum International University – it was simultaneously a day of disaster and miracle. Imtiyaz Ahmad, Shakeela, and Nadeema Sahar were from Shimshal valley of Hunza District, Gilgit-Baltistan, while Tino, David, Luca, and Trecisio were from Italy.

It is pertinent to mention that the Pakistani climbers are the student of Shimshal Mountaineering School where they got their basic training in 2010. Also, they have gotten the advance climbing training and rescue from the famous Italian trainer, Professor Penali with the help of Mountain Wilderness.

The seven-member team was making the summit push, above 5,600m, when they were hit by a snow avalanche. They remained stranded for hours on the Hindukush mountain before being rescued by Pakistan Army helicopters and local volunteers.

Unfortunately, Imtiyaz Ahmed could not survive the terrible accident and died on the spot. His death is a big loss for our family and for the community. Nadeema was the one who proved her mettle by displaying her survival skills and also helping others who were unable to move even a few inches. According to the other climbers, Nadeema expressed unparalleled bravery, courage, skills and confidence through the whole day and night without food and freezing cold.

On behalf of our family members and Italian friends, we would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to the rescuers for their wonderful help during this horrific situation.

We are specially grateful to the Pakistan Army rescue team, Aga Khan Foundation, Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, Ghizer District administration, Ishkoman Ismaili Council, Shimshal Ismaili Council, Volunteers, FOCUS volunteers, Ghutalti Community, ATP, Karakorum Expedition and Shimshali mountaineers for their altruistic services.


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