Finally, it’s time! Yesterday, Sirbaz and Joshi made to Camp IV. Tonight, they will push for the summit. As they inch towards the top, I reflect on my journey to Annapurna.
I was minding my own business when one day, I received a message from Saad for a meet up. In our meeting, he spoke about the lack of support for mountain guides and porters. A few days later, in an event, I got to know the stories of our legendary climbers, including M. Ali Sadpara, working as High Altitude Porters (HAPs).
Their accounts prompted me to cycle to Shimshal where I did stories on mountaineers and families of deceased HAPs to highlight their feats and the challenges they face.
Then K2 winter happened, and we lost Ali Sadpara.
This tragedy once again highlighted the challenges we are trying to address. One key problem is that our climbers are not able to have their own expeditions and have to work as HAPs.
Recently, I met Sirbaz who has a mission 14 summit. He had already climbed five 8,000m peaks and wanted to go for Annapurna next. We made a teaser video and set up an online fundraiser in his support.
Soon after, Joshi, a mountain guide from Shimshal, came into the picture. An 8000er summit had long been eluding him, so we agreed it be a wonderful opportunity if Sirbaz and Joshi could climb Annapurna together.
In the end, it turned out to be 1st Pakistani expedition to Annapurna with two more members; Saad as an expedition manager and myself as a photographer.
So here I am. It’s a special night after three weeks at Annapurna Base Camp. I have set up my own little MSR – Mountain Safety Research tent that travelled with me on bicycle tours so we could witness this moment together.
As the wheel of sky spins tonight, a few stars will be heading up on the upper slopes of Mt Annapurna. The stars which once drifted in cold dark space aimlessly are now breathing creatures, with their eyes on the summit and hearts pumping with passion and feet cold and heavy but steps full of resolute.
Their existence is about to realize after billions of years. Tonight, the entire galaxy will be smiling at them, because in the grand jigsaw that we call the universe, a few pieces would have finally found their place!