Uzma Yousaf – Conqueror of Spantik Peak

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SPANTIK / GOLDEN PEAK / GHANISH CHHISH

            Elevation 7,027 m / 23,054 ft
            Prominence 1,187 m / 3,894 ft
            Coordinates 36°3′26.35″N  74°57′28.74″E

Pakistan is endowed with numerous snow clad lofty peaks. There are at least 5 peaks above 8,000 meters crowned with K2. Out of the rest, at least 100 peaks are above 7,000 meters together with several unconquered ones.

Spantik Peak is one of the most picturesque and interesting peaks in Pakistan, a big incentive to the climbers who intend to attempt 8,000-meter-high peaks. At 7,027 meters, Spantik stands above the Chogholungma Glacier, which is the source of Basha River feeding Arandu valley. The peak is called Spantik in Baltistan while it’s known as Golden Peak in Hunza/Nagar valley. Spantik Peak marks the boundary between Arandu and Nagar valleys.

Although the peak is considered comparatively easy to climb due to its gentle inclination which is between 30 to 40 degrees, however its upper ridge is quite long and the climbers have to cover 7.6 km distance.

The first attempt to climb the peak was in 1906 through South East ridge and later Fanny Bullock Workman climbed Pinnacle Peak at approx. 7,000 meters. Later on, in 1955, Spantik was conquered by a German expedition led by Karl Kramer.

In 1988, a Pak-German attempted to climb Spantik and Captain Muhammad Moiz Uddin Uppal, was the first Pakistani to reach the summit.

In July 2011, Pak-Austrian team from Army High Altitude School Rattu scaled the peak led by Lt Col Abdul Aziz. In 2012, Pak China Friendship Expedition led by Lt Col (retired) Dr Abdul Jabbar Bhatti scaled the summit with Dr. Naveed Iqbal and Muhammad Saad, two Pakistani climbers. There are few other Pakistani climbers who made attempts to scale the peak but due to different reasons, no other successful attempt is available in record.

In 2017, Uzma Yousaf, a Pakistani lady with brief experience of trekking and low altitude climbing (Minglik 6050m in Shimshal and Rush Peak 5098 in Nagar in winter season) planned to climb Spantik Peak. It was a daring decision however Uzma was determined and completely focused to work hard about her fitness and technical knowledge of mountaineering.

On 3rd July 2017, Uzma Yousaf left from Islamabad for Skardu alongwith Wajidullah. Wajidullah, a promising climber from Nagar, was with her on her last two expeditions of Minglik & Rush peaks. The team had a press conference in Skardu and stayed there for a couple of days to finalize the arrangements. Wajid selected Asghar Ali and Yaseen from Tisar village of Arandu as their support team.

The team reached Arandu and after 3 days of trekking and camping, they established their advance base camp at 4,280 meters above the Chogholungma glacier. Then the standard practice of acclimatization phase started and as per the plan, the team was supposed to make a summit bid on 23rd July 2017.

The team was progressing in good spirits and established Camp 3 as the assault camp and as per plan, they had to make the summit attempt. In the afternoon, the base team got weather update which was extremely disturbing. A weather system had entered from Afghanistan. This was extremely disturbing and affected the morale of the climbers. The weather report was negative for next few days so the team decided to come back to base camp.

As a blessing in disguise, the team got extra time to restore their energy and enhance strength for next summit push.  The team was forced to stay at base camp for 5 days till they got a good weather window from 28th July to 2nd August.

On 28th July, the team again went to Camp 1, and reached the Camp 3 in following two days. Although the team was in high spirits, Uzma and Wajid decided to establish Camp 4 to make the last chunk of the climb, comparatively easy. It was a hard decision but one that proved to be a correct one.

This change delayed the program by one extra day, however on 1st August Uzma, along with her support team left the camp at 9 pm. It was a cold night but with good moon light. The base camp and Islamabad office was waiting for their progress and some good news. Wajid was mainly breaking the trail and after negotiating with extreme conditions, he reached at the top of summit and after few minutes Uzma following the same trail, reached the summit at 7,027 meters.

It was 2nd August 2017 at 09:16 am when Uzma waved the green flag at the top of Spantik. The story which started with inspiration from Fanny Workman was completed. Uzma became the first Pakistani female to climb Spantik successfully. It was a moment of great achievement and contentment. The team enjoyed a good time taking photographs and talking to their families about their success. This is quite interesting that from the top of the Spantik, one can make a phone call from ordinary cellular phones as there are signals available of some cellular companies.

Besides being the first Pakistani female to climb Spantik Peak, Uzma also had the distinction of first Pakistani female to climb any 7,000 meters high peak in Pakistan. The news was sent to her family, friends and soon was attended by media. This was followed by overwhelmingly welcome throughout the country. The team started to descent to Camp 4 and then to base camp and further to Arandu. A 38 days long journey finished with joy and the feeling of success with 31 days of trekking, camping and climbing.


Shared by Aisha Khan (Deputy Director – Tourism & Event Development)

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