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  • Writer's pictureVoita

Last preparations

Should’ve rained the last two days, everyone said. Seemed like a good plan to stay inside, finalize all the preparations. No rain came, despite some pretty dark clouds on the horizon. It did snow up in the mountains though, to no-one’s surprise. Even if I get away and encounter no rain, climbing and hiking will be… wet.

bread, butter and tea / these trucks are huge

Sohail is in the first group of Pakistanis who are doing the five – year course for an international high altitude mountaineering guide licence. He’s one year deep and next week he leaves for Nepal, to do another three week long course and final entrance exams. If he passes, he’ll be officially a guide in training. His expected standards are far beyond the villagers typically “guiding” in the mountains. With the full licence, he’ll need to do one guided ascend a year for decent living. In this case, quality costs, and pays.

clouds above the peaks

For now it means that he knows every guy connected to the mountains in the area. He introduced many to the sport himself, after all. And luckily I was able to borrow shoes of my size from one of them. Not climbing shoes; working shoes, with a steel toe. They weigh as much as the 25K summiteer boots; good future practice.


Evenings are most commonly spent with friends and moonshine; dozen large shots are well enough to mess up my stomach. Who didn’t study abroad at least lived in the southern cities for years; the talk most revolves around alcohol, girls and drugs and how restricted it all is in the country. The guys forlornly complain that it has only changed in the 80s; back in the day Karachi used to be a hub for hippies from all around the world. Part of the issue are their overprotective parents, looking after them. I couldn’t explain to them that having a caring family over a party den with a dead end is a pretty good trade…

clear Rakaposhi / yak pasta for last dinner

The other main topic of the evening is sponsorship money for dream projects; “I don’t want money for myself, but for my family. If someone gives my family $10.000, I’ll work for them for a year. Climb any mountain, walk 60 miles a day…” And once again I fail to explain that that’s not how it works, otherwise I’d have been (with my family ☺ a millionaire a while back. Another visitor from France is explaining that all they need to do (and this time I choose to stay silent) is send enough emails, one after another, and someone will oblige. It’s a lovely thing, to dream over a beer (or moonshine), wouldn’t we in post-Soviet countries know. But we’re hardly millionaires; turning dream into reality hurts and takes effort and time. And so everyone quietly dreams on (and goes to work the next day, or, in local case, back to being idle / “free”).

sunset colours

Sohail gives me rest of the gear I lack; sleeping bag and a mat, a gas burner. He won me over for trekking on Batura glacier, which isn’t too awfully high and has shepherd huts where it’s possible to stay. I shouldn’t be even needing a tent… unless I get lost.

Follows a swift shopping spree on the city’s main strip; food, nuts, gas for the burner, batteries for my torch. Hopefully that’ll do it.

Sahlan still isn’t sure, if he’ll come as well. But I’m out of time and only rain can stop me now. I’ll be heading out tomorrow and hopefully be back midweek next week. Diary will be on sabbatical until then; a great chance for you to head out and enjoy the fall for yourself!

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