The Swat Project 2020

MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS INTERNATIONAL – THE ASIAN DESK

THE SWAT PROJECT

Invitation to apply for registration to a series of adventure hikes, taking place end of August/September 2020.

Those who are used to surfing the site of Mountain Wilderness International already know the purposes and different steps of what the Asian Desk of the association called The Swat Project. Suffice it to remind you that the Swat is a fascinating mountain region of Pakistan, easily accessible from the big cities of the plain and, for this reason, exposed to the risk of a disorderly growth of a basically aggressive, uneducated and disrespectful type of tourism. Mountain Wilderness believes that the only way to preserve the precious integrity of those valleys of magical beauty lies in the establishment of a national park. To achieve this objective, several steps were defined:

  1. Training of a group of young local people as reliable trekking guides, that may at the same time work with us to develop a hiking / mountaineering guide of the Swat mountains. This guide, inspired by the principles dear to Mountain Wilderness, may have a positive influence on future tourist choices and will set an important precedent to convince national authorities to establish the park, entrusting us with the project. In September 2018, the Asian Desk successfully completed this first step, by holding an Environment Friendly Mountaineering course attended by 21 local trainees (see details on our website).
  2. Exploration and description of potential trekking routes and verification of the mountaineering potential of the main mountains of the area (up to 6000 m asl high). We envisaged this exploration to be carried out by small groups of both members or supporters of Mountain Wilderness and by our best former local trainees, who would also act as guides and help us. During the year 2019 we already sent four  groups of trekkers/mountaineers to the Upper Swat. They hiked successfully along four different and very inspiring routes, crossing passes even over 4000 m asl.  
Swat area (picture for announcement)

We hope we can send to the Swat valleys five more trekking groups in September 2020, plus some light mountaineering expeditions. The present invitation to apply for registration concerns these new explorations and is the sequel of last year’s point b).

  • Arrangement of the material produced under point b and publishing of a guidebook in paper format in English
  • Development of the “National Park” project to be submitted for approval and implementation to the Government of Pakistan. 

We thus propose to members of the national Chapters of MW, to the members of Alpine Clubs, to Mountaineering schools and to all trekkers and mountain lovers to participate in the exploration as well as in the accurate description of potential trekking routes as “paying guests”.  An exciting experience, free from any risk linked to political instability or fundamentalist upheavals. A real adventure, to identify routes that are often still unknown and therefore cannot be fully planned in advance.  We will improve the reliability of the current cartography of the area which so far left much to be desired. We have to take into account the fact that, despite the enthusiasm for the discovery of deserted valleys, passes, glaciers, there might be some withdrawal (or last-minute change of plan) due to obstacles that turn out to be too difficult. Some of the routes may require the crossing of glaciers and the use of crampons, ice axe and rope. Those who wish to take part in the project should let us know whether they are willing to face this type of difficulties. There are also routes that are less demanding but equally fascinating. However, the requirements to take part in the project are: ability to adapt, spirit of adventure, awareness of the meaning of the project and its ethical/environmental value, willingness to describe the route in detail. Basic knowledge of the English language  would be very useful.

Duration: considering the morphology of the area, no route will last less than 7 hiking days, thus you should consider a two-week stay in total. One day may also be planned to visit the “romantic” ruins of the ancient Buddhist monuments that dominate the hills in the southern part of the Swat region. Departure for Swat is planned for the end of August.

Every group will consist of two (or more) participants in good physical shape, two former local trainees who completed the course (see point a), a keeper of the camp, some porters.

Cost information and potential MW contribution will be communicated very soon to all those who will express their interest in participating.

Participants must, in turn, formally commit themselves to providing a detailed description of the routes, depicting their features, elevation gain, distance, duration, step by step, and accompanying the text with photographs. To avoid any misunderstanding: those who participate should not be considered as passive customers, who claim to be entitled to a full service from the organizing local agency. Tasks such as the choice of where to stop, assemble and disassemble tents, including the kitchen, must be carried out actively and in agreement with all the other members of the group, whether European or Pakistani. 

Those who are potentially interested are kindly requested to express their willingness to participate no later than by mid-February 2020 (February 15th) by sending an e-mail to: Carlo Alberto Pinelli, bettopinelli@gmail.com

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