.. by Zahiruddin
CHITRAL: Mountaineer Sahib Baig has regretted lack of awareness among Chitral residents of the Hindu Kush mountains and insisted that only few educated locals could name peaks of those mountains and that, too, three to four.
He also lamented that hundreds of peaks of Hindu Kush mountains with more than 5,000 meters altitude stood unexplored in the northwestern belt of the district.
Chitral is known as the paradise of mountaineers and is equally famous among foreign hikers
Stretching over 15,000 square kilometers, it is divided into 36 sub-valleys with each of them adorned with a lofty peak of 5,000 meters or above connected to the Hindu Kush mountains.
Among them is Terich Mir (7708 meters), the highest peak of Hindu Kush mountains, which was scaled by a foreign team in 1950s.
There are around 20 peaks in those mountains with an altitude of 7,000 meters apart from Terich Mir. However, all of them have so far been unexplored due to the arrival of limited number of expedition teams.
The mission to scale high peaks suddenly came to a halt in late 1990s when Afghanistan suffered from a raging turmoil due to tensions in its Kunar province.
The interior ministry stopped foreign teams from visiting these regions but they were diverted to Gilgit-Baltistan, which was far away from Afghanistan.
Not a single team arrived here since 2002 when Swat, the divisional headquarters of Malakand division, became the centre of the Taliban activities though Chitral was completely free from the militants? clutches and visitors, especially foreigners, faced no risk to their life.
Terich is the valley, which hosts 70 per cent peaks of Hindu Kush mountains including Terich Mir.
From glaciers in the foothold of the peak starts the Chitral River, which is called the Kabul River when it re-enters Pakistan near Peshawar.
The people of the valley are unaware of the paradise they flanked with.
?I viewed three of the lofty peaks every day from my village but I have never thought of climbing them as did the other people of my village,? said Abdul Samad Shah of Shagrom, the last village of Terich valley.
He said though the peaks were inaccessible as they were dwelled by fairies and they pushed down anyone, who tried to go to the foot of the hills.
The resident said in Gilgit-Baltistan, the situation was quite different as the people were well conversant of rock climbing and many had scaled the local peaks with altitudes ranging from 4,500 meters to 6,000 meters.
?GB has produced eminent hikers like Nazir Sabir and Samina Baig, while here the people are totally ignorant of this expedition,? he said.
He said in GB, the influx of foreign hikers was far more than Chitral?s.
The peaks with 7000 meter above altitudes included Naushaq (7492m) situated on Pak Afghan border while Udren Zom (7108m) is situated in Terich valley. No attempt has been made on record to scale both these peaks.
Akher Chish (7020m) is also in Terich valley, which has yet to be scaled.
Koyo Zom with 6,871 meters altitude is situated near Baroghil but it, too, has yet to see anyone try to scale it.
Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2018