MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS INTERNATIONAL (Asian Desk)
CAAI – Academic Alpine Club of Italy
ISMEO – International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies
MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS PAKISTAN
Those of you who are used to visiting the website of Mountain Wilderness International already know the aims of The Swat Project. The Swat is a fascinating mountain region of Pakistan, easily accessible from major cities on the plain and, for this very reason, exposed to the risk of disorderly development and growing aggressive, disrespectful tourism. Mountain Wilderness believes that the only way to protect and preserve the integrity of these valleys of rare beauty is to create a national park. To achieve this goal, the project envisages the following steps:
- Exploration and description of potential hiking routes along the main mountain valleys of the area, surrounded by 5000ers and 6000ers, and verification of the mountaineering potential of the main peaks of the area. A first set of hiking routes itineraries were successfully explored in 2019 and 2021 by small groups of Mountain Wilderness members and supporters. These initial explorations did not fully reflect the hiking/mountaineering potential of the upper Swat, therefore more hikes are planned for this year, including light mountaineering expeditions.
- Collection of data and information from the above explorations and publication of a paper guidebook in English and Urdu reflecting our environmentally sustainable and ethical approach. The guidebook will also include hiking routes to the Buddhist monuments scattered all around the valley.
- Drafting of the proposal to establish a “National Park”, to be submitted for approval to the Government of Pakistan.
The Asian Desk of Mountain Wilderness International, Mountain Wilderness Pakistan, CAAI and ISMEO invite members of national Chapters of Mountain Wilderness, members of Alpine Clubs, mountaineering schools as well as hikers, mountaineers and mountain lovers to take part in the exploration and description of potential hiking routes as “paying guests“. An amazing experience, aimed at identifying routes that are often still completely unknown and therefore cannot be fully planned in advance, i.e. participants should be aware that someone may withdraw or that plans may have to be changed at the last moment. Some of the routes may require the crossing of glaciers and the use if crampons, ice axe and rope. Those who wish to take part in the project may specify if they are willing and able to deal with such difficulties. There are less demanding, though equally fascinating routes. However, participants must be willing to adapt, have spirit of adventure, be aware of the meaning and importance of the project and of its ethical/environmental value, as well as be willing to describe the route in detail. Basic knowledge of the English language would be quite useful.
Duration: no route will last less than 7 hiking days, this meaning that the overall journey will last around two weeks. A day trip to the ruins of ancient Buddhist monuments in southern Swat can be organised.
Each group will consist of four hikers/mountaineers in good physical shape, one or two locals, i.e. former trainees of the mountaineering courses we held since 2018, a camp keeper, a cook as well as about 15 porters. Departures to Swat are planned between August 15 and 20. Registration will start on April 2 and end on May 31, 2022. Mountain Wilderness will grant the first eight project members a € 100 discount. Mountain Wilderness, the Italian Academic Alpine Club and ISMEO have entrusted the entire organisation to the Pakistani travel agency ATP, which bears full responsibility for every aspect, including insurance for porters and staff.
For their part, participants should formally undertake to provide a detailed and careful description of the routes, highlighting their features, difference in altitude, duration etc. and attaching the relevant pictures to the text.
Please be aware that anyone wishing to participate cannot act as a passive customer who thinks he/she is entitled to a full service provided by the local travel agency. Tasks such as choosing where to mount the camp, setting up and taking down tents, etc. must be made actively and jointly with all the members of the group, regardless of whether they are European or Pakistani.
If you wish to register and take part in the Swat project, please contact Carlo Alberto Pinelli firstname.lastname@example.org.