Singapore Mountaineering Federation winter expedition to the Karakoram
During August 2000 I joined 4 other climbers on a winter expedition to the Karakoram in Pakistan. In general we were hopelessly inexperienced and ill-prepared. Three of the team members quit after 3 days, leaving two of us with a group of porters and a high altitude guide. The guide was a lovely guy named Kudrat Ali who has gone onto considerable success on K2 and other peaks. It was horrificly cold and on the second peak even Kudrat gave up and I climbed alone but turned back in deep snow and freezing fingers about 200m below the summit of Shalmina Shar.
Whilst from a climbing perspective this expedition was a complete failure, I actually had a fantastic time. It was my first exposure to climbing higher altitude peaks, my first exposure too such cold conditions and my first real expedition. Most importantly I loved the culture of the local Hunza people, hard, tough men but so friendly. I also learnt that in the future I would choose my team mates very carefully, and learn to climb independently as possibly.
Below is a newspaper article from a Pakistan website about the trip: http://www.geocities.ws/climbernightmare/singapore.html
SINGAPORE EXPEDITION LEADER RAJIV RAJI KOUL
Singapore climbers return from North
By Asem Mustafa Awan
ISLAMABAD – “We have unfinished business in Karakorums and we will certainly come back,” said Grant Rawlinson member of the Singapore winter mountaineering expedition which is leaving for home after an unsuccessful bid on two under 6000 metres peak.
Thirty-five year old Rajiv Raji Koul member of the Singapore Mountaineering Federation led the expedition.
It was the first time that any Singapore expedition came on Pakistani soil with climbing credentials of Nepal, Scotland, America, Canada and Indian mountain ranges.
“The weather was very cold and it was well over minus 30 and on both peaks we exercised better judgment then to push our luck,” said Rajiv adding,” The expedition reached all its objectives which were introducing and exposing the Singapore climbers at the new horizons of extreme winter climbing and develop a good relationship with Pakistan mountaineering authorities.”
“Our experiences have been very enriching,” said Rajiv who has climbed in Nepal, America, Canada and India.
The five member team took two peaks of 6000 metres. The first peak was Shalmina Sar on Batura Glacier having Base Camp at 3700 metres.
The expedition adopted Alpine Style with Advance Base Camp at 3900 metres and managed 5400 metres, 600 metres below the summit.
Twenty-six year old Grant Rawlinson member of the expedition having experience of climbing in Scottish winter climbing said,” The weather was too cold minus 35 degrees and the snow near the summit was thigh deep with avalanche hazard.”
“We decided not to put a high camp due to extreme cold weather.”
The second peak expedition encountered was Shufkateen Sar in Shimshal having 5400 metres summit. Grant reached the highest point with 5200 metres before calling it a day.
Rajiv managed around 5100 metres and fearing frost bite of his fingers he returned back.
“The snow was chest high and temperature were minus 40 degrees during our stay at the peak.”
“We will come again as Pakistan has so much to offer in mountaineering and hopefully in 2001 we will attempt a peak above 7000 meter,” said Rajiv who will also lead the expedition.
He said,” The expedition started the quest for the summit from Advance Base Camp at 4300 meters highest point reached by other members was 4900 metres.”
Other members of the expedition included Muhammad Hairul Nazwa Bin Dol (24), Foo Yiingkal (23) and Cheng Li Huei Glenn (30).
Qudrat Ali from Shimshal with two 8000ers Broad Peak (1999) and Gasherbrum II (2000) accompanied the team as mountain guide.
Rajiv specially thanked Ashraf Aman from Adventure Tours for all the assistance provided to them during their stay in Pakistan.