I was following the route of the Indus river on the Google earth backwards from its delta in the Arabian sea towards it source. As I was going along through the Karakorum range of mountains, I began reading about Karakorum. It has the most number of high peaks in the world but K2 takes the place of pride among all of them.
Mountaineering is the most taxing of all the sports. It takes the toughness not only of physique but mind also to excel and survive in this sport. As one goes up, amount of available oxygen goes down causing difficult in breathing. As the blood is not able to carry oxygen to cells, cells become inactive or dead. It is most dangerous in the case of brain cells. Person can suffer from Edema which is the swelling of cells due to excessive fluid. You may hallucinate and see the visions of the people who had died during expeditions and their souls are wandering up there.
K2 with a height of 8,611 meters is the second highest peak after Everest smaller by only about 250-300 meters. But it is said along with Annapurna range of mountains to be the most difficult mountain to summit. Sometimes, due to the difficult nature, which have taken the life of many climbers, it is called “Killer Mountain” from the initials of K alphabet. It is also called Austin Godwin who first surveyed the peak for the first time. K2 may also be thought to have been derived from Karakorum.
Many women have also climbed this peak. Amongst them are ace mountaineers Alison Hargreaves of Britain, Edurne Pasaban of Spain and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner of Germany. It so happened that many of women climbers died during the expedition or trying to summit other peaks like Annapurna another difficult peak to climb. It was said to be unlucky for women. But Pasaban has proved this only a myth.
During the reading about mountaineers, I came across the extraordinary story of Greg Mortenson. He was a mountaineer in a party to scale K2 but due to a life saving mission for another member, lost his way. He became emaciated and sick but somehow ended up in a place called Korpe, a very distant village. The village elder Haji Ali nourished him and after becoming fit, he returned from US with funds to open schools and educate the poor especially girls in Pakistan. He weathered many threats from Taliban, separated from his family and kidnap attempts.
He is the founder of Central Asia Institute and has opened 55 schools. He believes that it is more important to educate girls because they stay back and can light the lamp of education of other children whereas boys go away from the region after getting education.
He has described all this in the book titled “Three cups of tea“. The name is taken from the customs of the people of Balti region which says that by drinking and sharing cups of tea three times one becomes like a family member of the family.
Sometimes, how an event in your life can change the course of your life is the best learned from the story of Mortenson. From adventure to becoming a humanitarian person, that too in a region where the education of females is considered to be a taboo, the journey of his life is like a beacon to guide the others. Even doing noble work is difficult to do in some regions of the world.