BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
GILGIT: A group of volunteers in Gilgit – Baltistan (G-B) this month trekked up to Concordia, K-2 basecamp in freezing temperatures, cleansing what climbers and porters had left behind earlier in the shape of heaps of garbage.
The 35 member group led by Shamshad Hussain, collected 2750 kilograms of solid waste during their trek that started from Skardu on October 3 and culminated on October 16, covering over hundred kilometers through difficult terrain and freezing temperature.
“We went as high as 4400 meters and collected garbage on the way and back,” said Hussain on Wednesday.
“It was K2-cleanup campaign which took us seven days on one side to reach the destination and same from days another,” said Hussain who is president of G-B Chapter of Pakistan US Alumni Networking [PUAN].
Talking to media from Skardu town, Hussain said: “We had in our team members of PUAN as well as local volunteers of the Khurpa Care during the initiative supported by US Embassy under PUAN Grant.
The garbage collected and transported by donkeys included bottles, tin packs, animal carcasses, plastic bags, discarded cloths and shoes. “Those were the items which we collected during the journey from Askoli to Concordia – K-2 Base camp,” he said, adding the garbage was disposed off in Askoli area by officials of the Central Karakoram National Park. Beyond Askolie is complete wilderness consisting of glaciers spouting the beginnings of rivers with mountain guards of unimaginable heights lining their beds.
Hussain said the harsh weather was a big challenge for the team but the dedicated team overcame the situation.
He believes the impacts of the activity will be long-lasting as it will raise awareness among the locals as well as foreigners to keep the environment clean.
“I hope the campaign contributes to eco-tourism and help promote responsible tourism in the region.”
Baltistan is home to more than 20 peaks of over 20,000 feet (6,100 m), including K2, the second highest mountain. Other well-known peaks include Masherbrum (also known as K1), Broad Peak, Hidden Peak, Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum IV, and Chogolisa, situated in Khaplu Valley.