Life in Nanga Parbat base camp is not as easy as it sounds; it’s terribly hard especially for someone who is coming from zero altitude. I talked to everyone around us; cook staff, police men (our security) and other team members; base camp is terribly cold for everyone, no exceptions. Trek to base camp starts from Diameroi which is around 40 minutes jeep drive from Bonardas. Diameroi at around 1600m, on day one you hike to Sair which is at 2800m; trek is not just steep it’s also very long. Day 2 you hike to Kutgali, which is at 3800m and if you are trekking in winter take your snow boots, leather boots or summer hiking boots are simply not good enough in deep snow. Day 3 you trek to base camp from Kutgali, which is around 4260 meters high and real journey starts from here. We have sun only for two hours from 11 am to 1 pm. We cook in kitchen tent, roof of tent is completely frozen and it starts raining in kitchen tent when sun is out.
Abdul Ghani and Sawal Rehmat are our cook; Ghani has been on 4 winter expeditions, it is 2nd winter expedition of Sawal on Nanga Parbat, everyone call him Dubsha. They work hard all the time to make water and keep the tent running. Dubsha lives in sair all the time with family, he has eight kids. It is terribly hard to survive in sair with kids but he is tough man, one of the toughest I ever seen. Dubsha brings water from a waterfall at 2 hour walk from sair, and every few days he goes down to Diameroi to bring flour and anything else they need to survive in sair. This is just normal life of everyone living in Sair, they say that politician eat all money and don’t build road to Sair despite many promises. Dubsha and Ghani participated in rescue of Polish climbers in winter 2014 when an avalanche hit two Polish climbers.
Ghani lives in Sair and during winter his family move to Bonardas because it’s very hard to survive in Sair; no electricity, only coldness. People is summer grow some vegetables, mostly potatoes and that’s it for them. Tourism is the only source of income for these people and its shaken pretty bad since 2013 terrorist attack on Nanga base camp. According to Ghani, when there are no expeditions; there is only unemployment, shortage of food and everything else. People here have big hearts; we borrowed a lot of stuff from Ghani for the expedition and everything he offers himself. We see hundreds of trekkers going to fairy meadow side to watch Nanga Parbat, funny thing is that Nanga Parbat main summit is not visible from fairy meadow side; main summit is only visible from Diamir side.
Ghani has showed us an alternative way to enter Messner 2000 route without going to conventional camp 1 under Kinshofer route. Route showed by Ghani is a beautiful couloir on Ganalo peak which takes to a pass around 5400m and from there you are enter Messner 2000 route without taking the risk of hanging seracs. There are two options from top of the pass, you either go down on glacier to almost 5000m and start hike again or you treverse remainining at same altitude. I was able to go to altitude of 5100m on the couloir but I could not go on first acclimatization round with Tom and Eli, so going alone was a little scary and also there is some rock fall. Tom and Eli climbed the pass and it’s very beautiful from top.