Kathmandu, June 26
A Sherpa’s dream to be the youngest person to scale Mt K2 (8,611 m), the world’s second highest mountain, thrice has been shattered after Pakistan denied him permission to scale the peak this season.
Lakpa Sherpa, 25, who flew to Islamabad via Muscat International Airport in Oman after obtaining a valid visa from Pakistan Embassy in Kathmandu on June 17, was told to take a return flight to Kathmandu at the airport itself. “An immigration officer at Islamabad airport told me to return to Kathmandu without furnishing any reason the next day,” Sherpa told THT.
According to him, immigration police also seized his passport to deport him to Kathmandu. “I found myself blacklisted by Pakistan once I collected my passport at Tribhuvan International Airport on June 19,” he added.
Lakpa, who was supposed to accompany an American climber Ruben Payan and his team to the K2 summit, said he also obtained K2 climbing permit from the Ministry of Tourism in Islamabad. Though no reason for the denial was officially communicated to him, the climber said he failed to find answers even after visiting the Pakistani embassy.
Claiming that Pakistan never issues visa to any blacklisted person, an official of the Embassy of Pakistan in Kathmandu said he was unaware of the case.
“It seems I cannot go to Pakistan ever,” said Lakpa who scaled the ‘killer mountain’ in 2012 and 2014, becoming the youngest climber to summit the peak twice. None of the climbers have scaled Mt K2 more than twice.
Lakpa, who was also part of a five-member rescue team on Mt Everest, conducted the first-ever successful rescue from the death zone (8,600 m), saving lives of two climbers – Chetana Sahu, 43, from Odisha’s Cuttack district in India, and Furba Sherpa on May 19. “I spent several months preparing myself for the K2 expedition, but I now feel I have been betrayed for no reason,” he said.
Born in Makalu VDC of Sankhuwasabha, Lakpa also summitted Mt Everest four times, including once from Tibet. He has scaled Mt Makalu, Mt Manaslu, Mt Dhaulagiri and Mt Amadablam thrice each.
Lakpa is not the only victim of Pakistani bureaucracy, as many other climbers have been denied entry into the country this summer.
Australian-New Zealander climber Chris Jensen Burke wrote on her webpage that she found herself back in Kathmandu less than 12 hours after landing in Islamabad earlier this month. “The reasons given are stranger than fiction and I won’t put the details here.
I had a valid visa. I had a climbing permit and the lovely lady at the immigration put an ‘entry’ stamp on my passport. But my visa was soon cancelled,” she added. “Then, you start hearing another climber’s story, and then another…”
Chris Burke has been a regular on the Karakoram range since 2013. She has already climbed nine eight-thousanders, including three peaks in Pakistan.
The climbing fraternity, however, believes that Pakistan wants to minimise the role of Sherpas on the Karakoram range. Even Chris Burke had Nepali Sherpas in her team. “The nationality or heritage of one’s climbing partner should not matter.
That they are the climbing partner you choose should,” Lucas Foxton, an alpinist from Canberra, commmented to a post by Altitude Pakistan.
A version of this article appears in print on June 27, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.