SKARDU: Famous mountaineer Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman and the first and youngest Muslim woman to climb Mount Everest and the seven highest peaks of the seven continents, has a new dream; becoming the first Pakistani and the first Muslim woman to climb the ascent of K2, the second highest mountain in the world.

Called the Wild Mountain, the K2 straddles the Pakistan-China border and is widely regarded as the most difficult and dangerous climb in the world.

Last January, a team of Nepalese mountaineers made history by becoming the first mountaineers to successfully complete a winter attempt at the top of K2. But the euphoria of the climbing season of the year quickly turned to despair when Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Pakistan’s most famous climber, John Snorri of Iceland, and Juan Pablo Mohr of Chile, disappeared. on the mountain on February 5, just 300 meters from the summit. . They were declared dead by the government on February 18, although their remains have not yet been found.

“K2 is definitely one of the toughest mountains in the world,” Baig told Arab News in an exclusive interview this week, before setting off for the ascent of K2 on Friday. “Many people have lost their lives on its slopes. More recently, we lost our colleague (Muhammad) Ali (Sadpara). But it’s all part of life. It’s part of the game. “

Born in Pakistan’s scenic Gilgit-Baltistan region, a mountainous land stretching across northern Pakistan, Baig received the Government’s Pride of Performance award following her successful Everest expedition in 2013. Minister in chief last year.

“I decided to join this profession because there was no representation of Pakistani women in this sport and I wanted to encourage them to try mountaineering,” Baig said. “At most, women go to the mountains for trekking.

“If women can work in offices and participate in different sporting activities, they can also climb mountains,” she said. “After reaching the summit of Mount Everest, I also hoisted the Pakistani flag on seven peaks on seven continents. Some of these mountains have never been climbed by any Pakistani climber.

“As a Pakistani, it is a matter of honor for me to represent my country wherever I go,” said Baig. “As a woman, my message to people is to encourage and support their daughters and let them choose their own profession. Let them make their own mark and build the image of their own country, ”she said.

When asked if she has any safety concerns given the recent accidents on the K2, the climber said climbers always prepare for the worst.

“The safety of all climbers is our top priority, but when the mountain accepts us, we manage to climb it; when it doesn’t, we can’t, ”Baig said, echoing a myth prevalent among local climbers that reflects a deep reverence for nature’s most powerful peaks.

When asked about Sadpara, Baig described him as “the most amazing, technical and strongest climber” in the country’s history.

“However, anything can happen on a mountain,” she said. “A climber can either face difficult weather conditions or suffer physical exhaustion. I can’t say what happened to him and the rest of his team, but it was extremely tragic.

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