12 September, 2013

Italian move revives interest in K2

Islamabad – Reviving Italy’s hundred years love for K2 which first began with Filippo De Filippi’s 1913 expedition to the majestic mountains, an enlightening event was held here at National Art Gallery in Islamabad that comprised of a photo exhibit, film festival and a scientific conference.

The photo exhibit ‘Rediscovering the abode of snow’– a tribute to scientific expedition by Filippo De Filippi – features some 300 high resolution enlargements of the original photographs depicting the natural landscape and the pioneering scientific works of De Filippi. The Exhibition is part of the four-day event (Sept. 9-10 in Islamabad and Sept. 12-13 in Skardu), jointly organized by the Ev-K2-CNR Committee, the SEED project, Karakorum International University (KIU) with the patronage of the Italian embassy in Islamabad to celebrate the bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and Italy.

Upper Baltoro - Photo taken by Filippo De Filippi (1912) -
Photo Courtesy: Italian Embassy Facebook Page
“The Karakorum range and the K2 have been familiar names in Italy for very long time, creating an ideal bridge between our two countries” shared Head of the Cultural Affairs at the Italian Embassy, Federido Bianchi recalling great Italian explorers like the Duke of Abruzzi and Count Ardito Desio.

“It has been one hundred years that the Italians are working in the Karakorum, having inherited Professor Desio’s dreams and scientific planning the Ev-K2-CNR on its way to explore, research and mainstream the issues of the Karakorum and have been currently focusing on the great Central Karakorum National Park (CKNP) in the K2 region” said Agostino da Polenza, President of Ev-K2-CNR.

Around 30 veteran climate scientists and experts from Europe and Pakistan present at the conference “Karakorum Resources and Climate Change: glaciers, water and ecosystem”, emphasised for collective research-based efforts to combat the challenges confronting the Karakorum resources. Speaking on the occasion, the Italian ambassador Adrioano Chiodi Cianfarani remarked that, “The relationship between Pakistani and Italian scientists, and friends of the mountains and their vulnerable ecosystems, human societies, natural resources, and mesmerizing panorama is a rich and consolidated tradition, laying on a century of friendly and fruitful exchanges.” He informed that Government of Italy has decided to fund different activities in the mountainous areas of Pakistan of which Social Economic Environmental Development Project (SEED) is the major one, financed n the framework of the Pakistani Italian Debt-for-Development Swap Programme for a total amount of about 8 million euro and implemented by Everest K2 CNR Committee.

Local population of Northern Pakistan -
Photo taken by Filippo De Filippi (1913)
Photo Courtesy: Italian Embassy Facebook Page
Attesting Italy’s love for Pakistan’s magnificent mountains, Agostino said, “The Karakorum mountain range including the Baltoro have all the superlative features that make us love the giant mountains. The features include size, strength, verticality, harmony, shape, colour, and light, to the unique majesty of K2.” Pakistan is home to many high peaks which attract a huge attention from foreigners cherish but remain overlooked by the locals. Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to scale Mount Everest, reminded that unfortunately, there were no opportunities for the youth to explore the snow covered habitats on glaciers and peaks. “Foreigners come to scale the summits on our lands but unfortunately we have no chance to explore our own mountains. So, we have to depend on the foreign friends.”