Image of American climber Heidi Hawkins attempting K2 in Pakistan, ExplorersWeb files (click to enlarge).
Women teaching women: Pakistani ladies to learn climbing from top American guides

Posted: Jun 14, 2007 05:43 am EDT
(K2climb.net) In a press release from Golden, Colorado yesterday, the American Alpine Club announced they pledged this week to match up to $2,500 in donations toward the Pakistani Women's Climbing Camp, as a show of support for the project and to encourage further donations. This is in addition to over $1700 already raised through the AAC. "We could not be more enthused about this news from the AAC and hope the pledge will motivate those who were considering donating to go ahead and make the commitment," says expedition leader Heidi Kloos.

Team photographer: "It gives me hope"

Guides for the upcoming Camp were also finalized this week. The team list includes Heidi Kloos (Expedition Leader); Janet Bergman, Kirsten Kremer, Molly Loomis, Sonja Nelson and Lisa Rust (Guides); Sallie Dean Shatz (Photographer) and Cherie Silvera (Cinematographer).

"It gives me hope, in a time when news headlines are emphasizing the divergence of our cultures that these women would give up their summers wages to partake in such a ground breaking project, says team photographer Sallie Dean Shatz. "It is humbling. I am honored to be working with these incredible women."

100 Pakistani women lined up

The team will travel from their homes in Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and New Hampshire to the Northern Areas of Pakistan in July to facilitate a mountaineering course for up to 100 Pakistani women as guests of the Alpine Club of Pakistan.

They face many concerns leading to the camp, the largest being the relative safety considering Pakistan's recent unrest. The Climbing Camp challenges social norms by encouraging Pakistani women to pursue individual outdoor recreation activities.

However, team members have felt assured that they will be in good hands as guests on a Pakistan-run project. We are keeping close tabs on what is happening in Pakistan now and will continue to assess the situation, says Shatz, who spent eight weeks in Pakistan as an AAC representative in 2006 for earthquake relief work, delivering over twenty tons of clothing and gear to mountain villages.

Get a cashmere shawl in return for your donation

Funding and gear are still needed for the camp. Donations can be made through the American Alpine Club (Type 'Pakistani Womens Climbing Camp' in the 'Comments' section so that the donation is earmarked correctly) or Mountain Fund.

In addition to the AAC matching fund, which will contribute a dollar for every dollar donated up to $2,500, the team is also offering token gift incentives. Donors of $100 or more will receive a Pakistani cashmere shawl as a token of thanks from the team.

Donors of $250 or more will receive a more elaborate embroidered shawl. Finally, donors of $500 or more will receive a high quality 8x10 print by Sallie Dean Shatz from the trip with the edition of the print limited to the donors.

To stay updated or learn more about the Pakistani Women's Climbing Camp, visit the team's blog here.

These women have an ambitious plan that is made more feasible by our over fifty years of healthy relationship with the Alpine Club of Pakistan, said AAC executive director Phil Powers. The AAC leadership is in full support of what we hope will be a rewarding experience for all involved.

The American Alpine Club is the premier national organization in the U.S. devoted to the multitude of issues facing rock climbers and mountaineers. For more than 100 years, the AAC has led mountaineering adventure, scientific research and education in the U.S. The Clubs active membership ranges from beginning climbers to a whos who of the worlds most experienced mountaineers. The organizations dedication to education and conservation drives dissemination of knowledge, continued study and scientific exploration of the high mountains of the world, from the Arctic Circle to the peaks of Antarctica.

Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) was founded in 1974, by mountain lovers, as a Non-Governmental Sports Organization and national mountaineering federation. It is dedicated to the promotion of mountaineering and mountain related activities in Pakistan. The Club aims at providing facilities, including training, to mountain and nature lovers to enjoy the boundless beauty of Pakistans mountains and participate in healthy adventure activities of climbing and mountaineering.

The American Alpine Club and the Alpine Club of Pakistan share an exciting history starting with the first Ascent of Paiju Peak. It was during that expedition that American climbers Al Steck, Nick Clinch and others trained local Pakistani Porters, among them Nazir Sabir and Colonel Manzoor (both of whom are the primary organizers of the women's camp this summer), and then stood back while the Pakistanis claimed the first ascent of Paiju for themselves. Later, the visiting Americans suggested the idea of creating a club and through a collaboration of American and Pakistani climbers the Alpine Club of Pakistan was born. The friendships created during those formative years have had a profound effect on all climbing in the Karakoram since.

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