The irresistible lure of Pakistan's 'killer mountain'

The irresistible lure of Pakistan's 'killer mountain'
Italian climber Simone Moro (right), one of the world's leading Alpinists, speaking with media representatives in Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD - Gunmen shot dead 10 foreign tourists at its base camp last year, but for serious mountaineers, the allure of Pakistan's "killer mountain" remains irresistible.

Militants stormed Nanga Parbat base camp on the night of June 22, 2013, dragging the climbers out of their tents and shooting them point blank along with their local guide.

The massacre badly hit tourism in Pakistan's wild, mountainous north, which is home to some of the world's highest peaks and most challenging climbs.

But three winter summit attempts have brought fresh hopes for the industry, crucial to the local economy, as it gears up for the summer climbing season.

Nanga Parbat, Pakistan's second-highest peak at 8,125 metres (26,660 feet), has never been climbed successfully in winter because of the treacherous weather conditions.

Its fearsome Rupal Face, rising more than 4,000 metres from base to top, presents one of the most difficult - and tantalising - challenges in climbing.

Simone Moro, one of the world's leading Alpinists, was among those to return unsuccessful from Nanga Parbat this winter.

The Italian has now made two attempts to climb the peak in winter and the mountain is drawing him to make a third.

"I have felt strange feelings there, feelings that I have never felt before at the foot of a mountain," he said.

"Nanga is not just a mountain, it is a whole world on its own to be discovered and explored - a planet apart from the Himalayas."

"The Rupal Face is incredible, its like a giant planet standing in front of you, seducing you to climb it."

Mountains of bureaucracy?

Nanga Parbat earned its grisly nickname after more than 30 climbers died trying to conquer it before the first successful summit in 1953.

The events of last June gave the name a new, more sinister overtone but Moro says the incident was a blip and he wants to encourage others to come to Pakistan.

"I consider Nanga Parbat as the most safest place in Pakistan," he said.

"What happened last year was just a tragic episode, accidents can happen anywhere in the world but that never means it will always repeat itself."

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