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Following the re-election of Nazir Sabir to the presidency of the Alpine Club of Pakistan for another three-year term of office, the government announced continued concessions on peak royalties for 2008.

As in 2007, the fees for 2008 will be as follows:

K2: $6,000 for a team of seven with $1,000 per extra member

8001-8500m: $4500 for a team of seven with $750 per extra member

7501-8000m: $2000 with $250 per extra member

7001-7500m: $1250 with $150 per extra member

6501-7000m: $750 with $100 per extra member

All peaks up to 6500m will be royalty free.

However, all mountains situated in the regions of Chitral, Gilgit and Ghizar, except for the now-popular Spantik (7027m), will only require a royalty fee of 20 percent of the figures quoted above. Any peak attempted during the winter season, which runs from December 1 to February 29, will command a royalty of only 10 percent of the figures above. Currently, only two climbers have bought permits for this winter: Simone la Terra and Simone Moro, who between them are planning to attempt K2, Broad Peak and Nanga Parbat. To date none of Pakistan’s 8000-meter peaks has been climbed in winter.

Also of note is that a Liaison Officer will no longer be required for any peak outside the Baltoro region. This makes Nanga Parbat the only 8000m peak in the world that can be attempted by expeditions without need of an LO.

Nazir Sabir, who was born in the Chapursan valley north of Hunza, is one of Pakistan’s foremost mountaineers. Among other achievements he made the first ascent of the west ridge of K2 (fifth overall ascent of the mountain), climbed four out of the country’s five 8000m peaks and was the first from Pakistan to climb Everest. His founded Nazir Sabir Expeditions, one of the most respected tour operators, and later became a politician and education advisor for Pakistan’s Northern areas. Sabir has worked tirelessly over the years to reduce stifling high royalties and streamline bureaucracy: the current concessions are a huge improvement over the situation that prevailed ten years ago and should encourage more teams to visit the Karakoram; last year eighty-three expeditions were granted permits for mountains of their choice.

Things have improved enormously for foreign mountaineers in Pakistan and both the Government and Alpine Club should be commended. However, there are still a few problems that need addressing: helicopter rescue can be expensive; environmental control in the Baltoro must be improved; there can be problems with porter wages and some teams are still critical of LO behavior, and while the mountains of Chitral are noted above, peaks of the Hindu Kush recently have been unavailable, as have those close to the Siachen.

Source: Karrar Haidri