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On top of the world: K-2 base camp swept clean

Volunteers trekking up to Concordia for clean-up. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Volunteers trekking up to Concordia for clean-up. PHOTO: EXPRESS

GILGIT: A group of volunteers in Gilgit-Baltistan trekked up to Concordia, the K-2 basecamp, for ‘operation clean-up.’ While cleanliness drives are quite common in the cities, this team removed waste and refuse from the base camp, working in freezing temperatures on a difficult terrain.

The 35-member group, led by Shamshad Hussain, collected 2,750 kilogrammes of solid waste during their trek which started from Skardu on October 3 and concluded on October 16. They covered 100 kilometres.

“We went as high as 4,400 metres and collected garbage on the way and back,” Hussain said on Wednesday. He is also the Pakistan US Alumni Networking’s [PUAN] president.

“The K-2 clean-up campaign took us seven days on one side and the same amount of time on another.”

Talking to The Express Tribune from Skardu town, Hussain said the garbage collected and transported by donkeys included bottles, tin packs, animal carcasses, plastic bags, discarded clothes and shoes. “We collected those items during the journey from Askoli to Concordia,” he said. He added the garbage was properly disposed of in Askoli by officials of the Central Karakoram National Park.

Beyond Askoli is complete wilderness consisting of glaciers which are home to the mouths of rivers.

“We had our team members as well as local volunteers of Khurpa Care; the initiative is supported by the US Embassy under the PUAN programme.

Hussain said the harsh weather was a massive challenge for the team, but it managed to overcome all odds through sheer dedication.

He believed the impact of the activity will be long-lasting and would help raise awareness among locals and foreigners to keep the environment clean.

“I hope the campaign contributes to ecotourism and promotes responsible tourism in the region.”

Baltistan is home to more than 20 peaks over 20,000 feet (6,100m), including K-2, the second highest mountain in the world. Other well-known peaks include Masherbrum—also known as K1—Broad Peak, Hidden Peak, Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum IV and Chogolisa in Khaplu Valley.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2015.

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