I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Mountains of Terror, by Stevie Haston.

 Pakistan has some of the most incredible climbing in the world but I won't be going there again, and its tourist industry is on its last legs after ten climbers were killed at Diamir base camp. It's been called an act of Terror by the press, and climbers, but it is really not that an uncommon act in these parts, so naturally everybody who visits should understand. It is a fantastic region of sharp granite piercing often blue skys out of arid lands and glaciers, which makes for fantastic climbing, but when I visited years ago I was often scared outta my socks because of the sectarian troubles, and brigands.  

One of the valleys I visited was run like a feudal fife, with a lord who took all of the wealth for himself, and kept people in poverty and terror. There was nothing I could do for them. In other areas, notably Hushe, the people where happy healthy, and it was fun and safe. At one base camp we had a Olympic game comp, marshal arts class, and general fun- things could rapidly change from one side of a river to the other-trouble was often regional.

This photo show a bunch of lads after a trek to a mountain, we had some fun and a mutton feast.

Pastoral heaven in this photo belies the fact of continual bullying by the headman amoung the porters, knife fights, AK47s and general terror.

This area has never been under control by the Islamabad government, and it is now subject to the influence of Americas involvement. When I was there Clinton shot 26 missiles into Afghanistan ostensibly as some kinda complaint, but really to mask the evidence of his philandering on the famous stained blue dress. Some missiles landed in Pakistan, missiles don't help agitated people with their own problems of thief's, vagabonds with guns, and rival religions. Nowadays their are agent provocateurs, huge money from drugs and weapon sales, and big bribes, the country will have a hard time getting better.

I would love to go back, I never will, and my decision was made years ago. Climbers don't often see much of the country they visit, they are blinded by their own ambition, their minds are on summits and not people, conquest and not sustenance.
The most terrorable thing about the massacre at Nanga Barbat base camp was the lack of interest in it not just by the climbing world, but by the world in general. Compare the bombing at the Boston marathon with the illegal killing at Nanga- in climbing web sites some fairly trivial things got more clicks!
The children in the photos could be killed by drones,  sanctioned by some arbitrary American business president.   We live in a weird World, where morality is secondary to oil prices, and climbers are blinded by ambition.

I am appalled by the deaths of the climbers at Nanga Barbat base camp and if it means anything I send my condolences.  Peace and good will to everybody, and in some ways this goodwill starts in the economics of your shopping, and how you think.