The Swat Project moved its first steps in 2018. Since then, several environment friendly mountaineering courses were held with local trainees and many dozens of miles of mountaineering and hiking paths and routes of Swat were walked and explored. Read Carlo Alberto Pinelli’s (Asian Desk) press release on the activities carried out in September.
Despite the resurgence of the pandemic, due to the Delta/Indian variant of COVID-19, a group of eleven Italian mountain lovers, accompanied by some Pakistani mountaineers, reached the upper valley of Swat to accomplish a further step of the “Swat Project”, initiated by the NGO Mountain Wilderness International in 2017. The group was led by Professor Carlo Alberto Pinelli, a veteran mountaineer, who had been awarded the prestigious “Sitara i Imtiaz” a few years ago.
The first goal of the Swat project was and is an accurate survey and description of all potential trekking and mountaineering routes of these fascinating mountains, with the aim of publishing a guide to outdoor activities in this wonderful region of Pakistan. The final aim of Mountain Wilderness International is to use this guide (published in English and Urdu) as a lever for the institution and implementation of a national park of Swat Kohistan, including a small portion of Dir, Kandia and Chitral.
Breathtaking landscapes, endless fir, Himalayan cedar and birch forests, small, crystal clear lakes and glaciers, surrounded by peaks that, despite not being particularly high, at least for Asian standards, are nonetheless impressive: due to its relative proximity to the major urban centres in the lowlands, this unique natural jewel could be spoiled forever if the increasing flow of tourists is not wisely controlled, channelled and regulated. A National Park seems the only viable solution.
During the first half of September, Mountain Wilderness mountaineers, divided in small groups, explored three different and difficult routes, often facing unknown paths and glaciers, and crossing passes approaching 5000 m asl in altitude. “We are proud of this undoubted success” declared Professor Pinelli to the press. Nevertheless, the exploration is far from over. Next year, Mountain Wilderness International, supported by the KP government and by the Italian Agency for Cooperation, is planning to send to Swat a larger group of mountaineers, not only to bring the survey of all potential hiking paths to an end, but also to climb the main peaks of Swat, along new challenging routes. The drafting of the guide is planned for the end of 2022.