"Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land" - Aldo Leopold

"If you ignore the mountain, doesn't mean mountain will ignore you too..."― Tanveer Mazhar

"The destruction of the natural beauty, the ecosystems, and the majesty of mountains affect us in ways we're not even aware of. Every time a mountain is beheaded, we chop off a little part of our souls" - Gloria Reuben

"Why do you take donkeys up there to heaven" - Abdul "Little" Karim, Hushe Village.

The Issues

The Environment

 

Gilgit-Baltistan is the northern most territory of Pakistan, with an area of 72,791 km2 and a population of two million. It is home to three of the world’s greatest mountain ranges, five of the world’s 14 highest peaks and three of the world’s largest glaciers outside the Polar regions -Baltoro, Godwin Austen and the Biafo glaciers. It also contains one of the largest fresh water reserves in the country. At ‘Concordia’, the innermost sanctum of the Karakorum range, lies the confluence of these glaciers and the starting point for assaults on the highest peaks.

 

For these reasons it is seen as a paradise for mountain climbers and trekkers from all over the world and the region receives heavy traffic. However, this has resulted in severe pressure on the fragile mountain ecosystems. One of the major negative effects is the waste left behind in the form of paper, plastics and tin. Additionally the use of horses, mules, donkeys and yaks for transporting supplies for expeditions has also resulted in improperly disposed carcasses on the glacier.

 

The resulting impact of this environmental footprint includes (but is not limited to):

 

  • Accelerated environmental deterioration of the glaciers and surrounding areas.

  • Water contamination at the site and in glacial runoff (the Baltoro glacier ultimately feeds into the Indus, Pakistan’s longest river).

  • Increased glacial melt and risk of flooding due to large amount of waste present.

 

HASP is dedicated to supporting responsible tourism and clearing the mountain waste which has accumulated through the decades in these areas.

For more information on our current environmental initiatives please click here.

 

Legendary climber and High Altitude Porter Rajab Shah speaks about the conditions on the Baltoro Glacier. 

HASP interview, Shimshal Village, Novemeber 2014.

Andy Parkin - veteran solo climber and artist talks to us about the conditions on Baltoro Glacier and shares advice on responsible trekking in the area.

HASP interview, Chamonix, April 2016.

Featured Videos​ - The experts weigh in
 

Veteran climber and High Altitude Porter Abdul "little" Karim on animal porterage and drinking water quality on the Baltoro Glacier. 

HASP interview, Hushe Village, October 2014.

The People 

 

A key issue with management of adventure tourism in northern Pakistan is the level of current support available to the local communities that sustain it.

 

Pakistani High Altitude Porters (or Khurpas as they are referred to in the local Balti language)are the traditional backbone for expeditions in the area. These are the tough, proud but economically marginalized local people who assist teams in trekking and climbing. Khurpas are valued for many reasons; above all because they make the success of climbers possible by following an unimaginably strenuous regimen. Carrying up to 25 Kg for the party in addition to their own rations they sometimes transport up to 40 Kgs over high altitudes and walk more than 10 hours a day.

 

However, they are at manifest disadvantage from lack of resources for suitable training and equipment. They are often the only breadwinners in their families, which mostly rely on subsistence farming and have a very short earning season during the summers.

 

Khurpas also suffer from various welfare issues like lack of proper health insurance in case of injuries and nonexistentretirement plans. They find themselves unable to continue the strenuous schedules (their only source of livelihood) and often have to abandon active participation in expeditions on reaching the age of 45 or so. The result is economically devastating for the families. These issues are leading to more and more of the communities not opting for this line of work and seeking other opportunities.

 

HASP is dedicated to filling the gap that exists in adequate support systems for these unique mountain communities. Some of the issues we are commited to addressing are:

 

  • Physical demands

  • Seasonal labor

  • Foreign labor

  • Animal porterage

  • Training and Equipment

For more information on our current porter welfare initiatives please click here.

Foreign labor

Foreign labor

“Fine the Alpine club gives training, good training to the guides and HAPs but it is not at par with the training the Sherpas have.” Altaf Hussain Veteran Porter Sirdar, Husanabad HAS Interview, 2014

Use of Animal Porterage

Use of Animal Porterage

“One donkey can carry more than 4 men and costs much less. The competition is getting tougher..” Ali Hussain Shigri, Skardu, 2014.

Seasonal labor

Seasonal labor

“Climbing mountains is my bread and butter like many [others] in Gilgit-Baltistan. We wait for summers to earn our livelihood as porters…” Hassan Jan K2 Summiter, 2014 Express Tribune, August 3, 2014

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High Altitude Sustainability Pakistan

 

33, St 23, F-10/2, Islamabad, Pakistan, 44000.

Phone:0092(0)512293395, 0092(0)3458535392

Email: info@highaltitudesustainability.org

 

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