Amir Mehdi: Left out to freeze on K2 and Forgotten

Amir Mehdi wanted to be the first Pakistani to scale the country’s highest peak, K2, and as one of the strongest climbers in the first team to conquer the summit, 60 years ago, he nearly did. Instead he was betrayed by his Italian companions, left to spend a night on the ice without shelter, and was lucky to survive.

In the picturesque Hunza Valley, off the Karakoram Highway that connects north Pakistan with the Chinese province of Xinjiang, lies the village of Hasanabad.

I travelled to this remote place after discovering it had been the home of one of Pakistan’s pioneering high altitude porters, Amir Mehdi – also known as Hunza Mehdi.

Amir Mehdi - K2 Climber from Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan
A Photo of Amir Mehdi taken during the making of BBC Documentary.

The Hunza porters, equivalent of the Sherpas in Nepal, are still in great demand for expeditions to Pakistan’s highest peaks, such as K2, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum I and II – five of the world’s 14 mountains more than 8,000m high.

But Amir Mehdi, a member of the Italian expedition that triumphed on K2 in 1954, is today a forgotten man.

By Shahzeb Jillani for BBC News.

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