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."


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