Pakistan’s scenic north has long been a rallying spot for mountaineers from across the globe because of its majestic peaks, although the adventure sport took a hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
International travel bans and other coronavirus restrictions had reduced the arrival of mountaineers, mainly from the US and Europe, to merely 10% over the past one and a half years, according to Alpine Club of Pakistan, the country’s state-run mountaineering organization.
The South Asian country, nonetheless, has seen a surge in mountaineering in recent seasons, following the pandemic’s decline and the reopening of international travel.
“The number of mountaineers and trekkers that had reduced to even less than 10% over the past one year, has now soared to 80% due to reopening of international travel,” Karrar Haidri, the Alpine Club’s secretary general, told Anadolu Agency on the eve of International Mountains Day, which falls on Saturday.
Haidri said 400 to 500 foreign mountaineers, and around 300 trekkers would visit the northern Gilgit-Baltistan region during a season – from May to September – before the coronavirus pandemic hit the globe.
“The latest figures show that almost 80% of the business has been restored,” he maintained.
Abdul Joshi, a local expedition organizer, agreed with Haidri that there are “clear signs of recovery” in mountaineering this year.
“In 2020, our company had zero business due to coronavirus restrictions. But this year, our business has soared by 60%, and we expect further increase in the coming season,” Joshi told Anadolu Agency.
Not only the foreigners, he went on to say, but the number of local climbers and trekkers has also increased in recent months.