President ACP urges world mountaineers and trekkers to
benefit from the most friendly mountaineering and trekking policies
being pursued by Pakistan during UIAA General Assembly
held at Kathmandu, Nepal
Col Manzoor Hussain (Retd), President ACP made a strong and compelling presentation entitled “Pakistan – Mountaineering and trekking – Opportunities and Issues” at the International Symposium on Expeditions, Climate Change and Ice Climbing held at Kathmandu, Nepal on 7th October 2011 as part of the General Assembly of the international mountaineering and climbing federation – the UIAA. Main points highlighted during the presentation are as under:-
President ACP urged world mountaineers and trekkers to visit Northern Pakistan both in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral (Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa province) and take advantage of most friendly mountaineering and trekking policies being pursued by Pakistan. The UIAA General Assembly participants appreciated the Presentation made by the President ACP and also were very appreciative of the liberal mountaineering and trekking policies being pursued in Pakistan. Later UIAA General Assembly held on 8th Oct decided to put the presentation on the UIAA web site giving wide publicity to Pakistan’s friendly policies for the benefit of the world mountaineering and trekking community.
- Pakistan offers great mountain tourism potential and opportunities as it is here that the three spectacular mountain ranges Karakoram, Himalayas and Hindukush meet. Pakistan has more than 700 peaks rising above 6,000 metres including 162 rising above 7,000 metres and five rising above 8,000 metres.
- The controlling authority for issue of expedition and trekking permit has been vested with Gilgit Baltistan Council Secretariat with effect from April 2011 since devolution of the Ministry of Tourism due to constitutional amendments.
- In accordance with the present system developed by Government of Pakistan over many years only few kms of area bordering Gilgit-Baltistan with China and Chitral with Afghanistan and peaks above 6,500 metres require permits. Remaining portions of Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral which comprise more than 90 percent of the area is Free Zone where no permit or liaison officer is required.
- The peak fee which is already very low has further been reduced by 40 percent. Besides all the peaks in the districts Chitral, Gilgit, Ghizer and Diamer (less Nanga Parbat) have fee concession of 90 percent whereas for winter climbing, the peak fee concession is 95 percent.
- Vast area in free zone with peaks less than 6,500 metres of height offer great opportunities for youth climbing with no peak fees. Youth can climb challenging peaks/towers which are aplenty near the main roads like Karakoram Highway to cut down the costs involved. Only a local guide may be hired for the logistics.
- Search and rescue system, being looked after by the Army Aviation through their agent organisation Askari Aviation, has been very effective and the rescue mission are available within hours depending upon weather conditions. With the induction of Ecureuil helicopter in the service the altitude for the rescue service has been raised. The Army helicopter pilots are well trained as they operate at high altitude in the area for operational reasons. However, a prior deposit of US $ 10,000 is required by the Askari Aviation from each mountaineering expedition for availing the Rescue Service.
- Liaison officers (L.O’s) are only required for the peaks above 6,500 metre peaks in the area requiring permits only, which is less than ten percent of the area to be visited. Various proposals to resolve the issue of the L.O numbers, daily and equipment allowance etc are under consideration by the concerned Ministry with the advice of the Alpine Club of Pakistan.