So, it's proper planning, good gear and a weather window one needs, how would you define planning?
Planning is much more vast then that. It also include proper training, acclimatizing, route selection and team work. It really depends from mountain to mountain, how to plan for it.
Only 1/3 of the oxygen is available at 8000+ meters.
Have you ever climbed outside Pakistan?
Yes I have done that. In 2002 I went to Nepal with Ralph Dujmovits to climb Manaslu (8165m). Coincidently, his future wife Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner was there too. And it was the first time two of them met.
Manaslu is the eighth-highest peak in world
So, you have worked with Nepalese Sherpa's, how would you describe your experience with them?
I enjoyed working with them. They are professional and hardworking people. They respect mountains a lot.
Sherpa's sprinkle rice on their path when they feel it's dangerous
Can you recall any incident during your expedition?
During my summit of G2 (8035m), I was with leading our party which was ahead of other expeditions. We were pushing for the summit and there was deep snow which I had to clear out to proceed. I was using my feet and arms to break the snow and make the way through it which Ralph stopped me and asked me to wait for the other expeditions so that all can work on the snow. We had to wait for sometime there. I might have gotten frost bite there at the time we were waiting for others. However I did not realize it until we were back to base camp after successful summit. Next morning I called off the expedition doctor who told me that my toes were in critical condition. Meanwhile Ralph arrived and started crying when he saw my condition. He called off the helicopter and had me transferred to Skardu hospital.
Gasherbrum II; surveyed as K4, is the 13th highest mountain in the world
There has been much talk about the infamous 2008 disaster on K2. You were there during the season, what can you tell us about it?
That indeed was one of the deadliest season of K2's history, which took 11 lives including two of my friends Karim Meherban and Jehan Baig. I was on K2 with an expedition but on Basque route, while my friend Shaheen Baig was with Norit Expedition on Abruzi Spur. Shaheen was the expedition leader with all the planning on his shoulder. But as it happened, he got altitude sickness and had to return. I was asked to replace him, but I had another expedition waiting for me on another mountain. Even my own team on Basque route asked me to stay another week but since we had agreed till 25th July 2008 on our agreement, I had given next dates to another party.
But I knew Karim was free from his expedition with another party so I told Norit Team that Karim can replace Shaheen and he did, infect Shaheen and Karim both met at the base camp, Karim's shoes were little tight so Shaheen gave his shoes to Karim. That expedition fell prey to many miscalculation most importantly when the ropes were fixed way before they were needed which slowed the expedition down and exhausted climbers before they could reach the bottleneck.
K2 2008 Expedition. Shaheen Baig sitting in the mid with white cap.
Do you really consider mountaineering to be a dangerous hobby?
Everything is dangerous if proper care is not taken. Be it driving or cooking, if one is negligent, accident might occur. Same is the case of mountaineering, there is safety equipment, protocols and training which altogether ensure that mountaineering remains a safe activity.