Monday, July 16, 2007


Pakistani Women's Climbing Camp Postponed
Alpine Club of Pakistan Officials Forced to Make Difficult Decision, Hours before American Alpine Club Representatives Depart for Islamabad, Pakistan

An eight-member team of American Alpine Club representatives were set to depart for Islamabad, Pakistan today for the much anticipated Pakistani Women's Climbing Camp. The unfortunate news that the camp must be postponed came just hours before the women's scheduled departure.
"When the siege of the [Red Mosque] started on July 4, many here were hopeful that the crises would be resolved through negotiations," says Nazir Sabir, president of the Alpine Club of Pakistan. "[Then], on July 10 reports of blocking of the Karakoram Highway were received in addition to many disturbances in other areas as a reaction to the military response [to the siege]. For the present, much to our dismay and regret, we have decided to cancel the event as we are not aware as to how long the ramifications will continue."
The Pakistani Women's Climbing Camp is a collaborative project of the Alpine Club of Pakistan and the American Alpine Club. The main goal of the camp was to introduce Pakistani women to climbing and mountaineering in a socially acceptable manner. The plans for the camp, which would have taken place in Pakistan's Northern Areas from now through mid-August, included a two-week introductory mountaineering course for one-hundred women followed by an attempt on 19,619 foot Kusheikh Peak by a select number of the participants. More details about the program and future plans can be found on the team's blog-
The project's postponement came at a time of increased tension throughout Pakistan as a result of quickly developing current events. Reports from the Ministry of Tourism include difficult and possibly unsafe travel for visitors and citizens alike. "Many of the participating girls are worried by the situation," says Sabir. "While expressing their keenness about participating in the training, they conveyed their concerns in participating at this time. Many of the participants withdrew from the training on insistence from their parents."
"We were deeply saddened by this news," says team member Janet Bergman. "It is heartbreaking that this combination of circumstances could prevent an otherwise straightforward climbing course from taking place, but it also shows the importance in pursuing these collaborations. Many of us are even more motivated to be involved now, so if we have to wait until more settled times, then we are willing to wait."
In the weeks leading up to the camp, many key areas of support were secured. More than $6,000 was contributed by dozens of individuals through the American Alpine Club, in addition to a special $2,500 American Alpine Club challenge grant. Team member Charlotte Fox provided outstanding monetary and time contributions, despite an injury that would inhibit her participation this year.
The team wishes to thank the following for gear donations: Black Diamond; Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School; Grivel USA; La Sportiva; Mountain Fund; Mountain Hardwear; Mountainsmith; Mountaintrips; Osprey; Patagonia; Sterling Rope Company; SUUNTO; and dozens of individuals who offered boots, crampons, ice axes, clothing and more for the participants.
"After long and detailed planning and hard inputs made, this cancellation is a painful decision that we are forced to take in view of the current law and order situation, where safety and security of all participants is our highest concern," says Sabir. "However, I am confident that we will be able to pursue the program in the future, when the situation permits and we are able to put our girls and their spirits together."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Encouraging Words

Dear Janet,
I am Shiva Nami, Iranian and at the moment I live in Auckland, New Zealand. I heard about Pakistani women camp through a friend of mine who is photographer.
It is really impressive to see all your effort for organising this camp for Pakistani women.
I come from very similar culture in Iran and I know how it can be hard for society to understand about women mountaineering. Although I believe your camp will be very successful.
I had same kind of experience when I was in Iran. I was a member of the first Iranian Rock Climbing National team in 1997 and it was really hard situation and very restricted situation for us to train .However, we made it and even few years' later two Iranian women managed to climb Mount Everest.

I am writing to you to see wish you all the best and also I would be very happy if I can help in this matter.
Kind regards,

Monday, July 9, 2007

On Freedom

A friend shrugged as we were talking about the PWCC. “You’re going to teach recreation, that’s kinda cool, but so what?” It got me thinking about where my own conviction to work so hard on this project was coming from?
Riding my bike out of town with a sleeveless top, knee length skirt and flip flops from a small town Independence Day parade with my mountain rescue team, it came to me. The answer is in fostering personal freedom and career opportunities for others.
What if you couldn’t ride a bicycle around town showing your arms, legs and hair? What if you were not allowed to play, as we do, in the mountains, as there was no one who would be socially acceptable to teach you? What if you were the daughter of a mountaineering family and your brothers were allowed to meet foreigners, to go on expeditions, expand their world? How important are these simple freedoms?
As guests of Pakistan, we have the opportunity to introduce women, from many differing backgrounds, to mountain exploration, the thrill of climbing, the comradeship of a team, then, if they chose, exploration in careers within this realm.
Every culture has its forms of freedoms and its confinements: we, in the West, have personal freedom at the cost of all else. I look forward to learning about the lives of Pakistani women, and what costs are assumed in return for their lives' most important values.

Sallie Shatz, racking up.

Check out an article about Sallie and Heidi and the PWCC in yesterday's Aspen Daily News!

...And more thank yous!!...

The gear and support are just pouring in!

  • Lilla Molnar of Canmore, Canada, sent a box of goodies including rope, crampons, packs and clothing.
  • La Sportiva sent two pairs of boots, as did many individuals (Thanks Ruthann, Claire, Julie, Jim Shim and Nancy!)
  • EMS Climbing School just donated 10 pairs of crampons, and EMCS guide Craig Taylor added 2 more pairs to that
  • Jim & Angela Donini sent along a very significant donation, which was matched by our challenge grant from the AAC
  • Thank you to Charlotte Fox, once again, for all of her efforts and support in all aspects of the trip. Charlotte, this couldn't have come together without you!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Final Needs Update

A little over a week from now we are all going to be wrestling our gear onto planes bound for Gilgit. We are keeping close tabs on the political/social scene there and still feel it safe enough to travel.

Last minute needs:
Thanks to many commitments in the last few weeks, and some major cash donations, we are closing in on reaching many of our goals. If you are able, please help us with a few last minute areas:

- Cash donations. To date we are in need of approximately $7,000 to reach our goal budget, which covers plane fares, satellite phones, shipping costs of some of the equipment and an emergency travel fund (which will be donated back if not used). Please make a tax deductible donation through the AAC, and don't forget to earmark it for the Pakistani Women's Climbing Camp. Donor incentives are still in place!
- Women's mountaineering boots, more information at this link
- Crampons, walking or 12 point, adjustable, small sizes preferable
- Ice climbing and mountaineering axes
- Pickets, ice screws, cams, nuts, locking and non-locking carabiner
- Trekking Poles

There is still time to get these items to us! Just let us know they are on the way and send them to:

Sallie Dean Shatz
Sallie Dean Shatz Photography
0068 Blue Sage Lane
Snowmass, CO 81654
phone: 970 923 6757


Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School
c/o Janet Bergman
2760 Main Street
North Conway, NH 03860
phone: 603 986 9457

All items must be received by July13.
Cash donations can be made for the remainder of 2007.

All equipment will stay in the care of the Alpine Club of Pakistan for future Women's Camps (which are already in the works!) and other educational courses.