Q1: Samar, tell us about yourself as what sort of personality you are?
I am a carrier oriented girl as I am very stubborn about my goals. I love to socialize, travel and meet people from different cultures. In spare time, I love to watch documentaries and books, and what I am today is a major transformation from being introvert to extrovert.
Q2: What inspired the girl of Khas Dir (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) to start travelling?
My friend and I for the first time, travelled to Abbottabad from Islamabad on bicycle. It was a memorable experience as I felt myself really close to the nature. The soothing breeze, the beautiful scenes and a minute interaction with people on the course encouraged me towards traveling.
Q3: Your hometown Khas Dir (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) is not very developed especially in terms of infrastructure. What made you think that you have the potential to do something different?
In December 2014, I attended a Paragliding course, offered by the Army School of Physical Training at Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), Kakul. I did extremely well in that course, and successfully completed every task. For the first time, I realized that I am born to achieve something unique, and must not waste my life by just sitting at home.
Q4: Samar, you are a trained MMA fighter and a certified Para-glider as well. However, what stirred you towards Cycling for your travel adventures?
Cycling I believe adds positivity to your life, and the reason that I use bicycle on every tour is because I really want people to pursue cycling as an adventure sport.
Q5: What was the initial reaction of your family and friends, when decided to reach Khunjerab Pass (Pak-China border) on cycle?
First, I had to take permission from my family, and undoubtedly, it was the most difficult part. My family especially my brother was very against of this journey, and it took me almost three months to finally have permission. However, my friends were very supportive about this expedition, and offered maximum facilitation in their own capacities. The best part about this expedition’s success was when I came back, I found my brother very thrilled about my achievement, and now he is my biggest support.
Q6: Samar, your recent historic achievement is the summit to 6240 meters Barganchu peak in Shigar, Gilgit-Baltistan. What was this whole experience about?
It was a mind-blowing experience! Barganchu was a Virgin Peak as no one had attempted a successful summit on it. Only two summit attempts earlier were made in 2015 and 2016 respectively, which both failed due to its difficultness. Therefore, I had a dream that I should put my name on it, and proudly raise the flag of Pakistan. Now Alhamdulillah, I proudly claim it as my peak.
From Skardu, it took us 9 days to attempt the summit, and get back to Skardu. You first travel to Basil from Skardu on Jeep. Then, you have a two hour trek to Arandu, a small town and the last remote village. After Arandu, the actual starting point towards peaks and glaciers within Pakistan begins, and from here we reached first camp known as Bukan. Then, you have to cross a glacier named Chogholungma. After this, we climb to camp Harral that is entirely on snow, and later, we climbed further towards the base camp of Barganchu. Next day, we reached camp one at 9 am, and as we witnessed the unstable weather, we decided to leave camp one after an hour, and continued our journey. Without a break, we crossed camp two as well, and finally at 4 pm, we reached the summit. There, we recorded a video message, and took pictures of North, South, East and West, in order to show the mountain ranges, their peaks and the glacier systems. Also, we recorded the coordinates as proof of our position, and measured the height of the peak through altimeter that came 6240 meters.
Q7: There are other celebrated peaks in Pakistan as well but, what made you move towards this particular summit?
I choose this particular summit because the area where it exists is very less known and less explored. Also, the people of that area are very poor, and therefore, I decided that attempt to this summit would not only give recognition to this place but, will also increase their earning chances in future as well.
Q8: This was your first proper experience of a mountain summit. Was this journey a difficult one?
This actually is my second attempt for a summit, and it became successful. Earlier in 2016, I tried to summit a Virgin Peak after cycling on the Biafo glacier. I managed to reach the Latok base camp of that unnamed peak but, could not further continue due to bad weather conditions.
Q9: What special you did mainly in terms of training and diet plan before start of this expedition?
I am following a strict training and diet plan from a very long time, and therefore, did nothing special for this particular expedition. I perform three days gym in a week, and on Saturday and Sunday, I do trekking and cycling on all trails of Islamabad. I eat only homemade food, and drink plenty of water to hydrate my muscles. I normally make shake of raw egg, milk and banana, and strictly avoid packed food and carbonated drinks.
Q10: Tell us about your colleagues that accompanied you on this summit?
First, I would like to tell you about my Lead climber: Chairman Ali. He is from Arandu, and has huge experience in mountain climbing. The way he supported and encouraged me to keep moving despite severe hardships is something which I will remember for the rest of my life.
Apart from him, Zain Abbas Butt and Syed Ahmad Ali from Woodpecker Solutions were with me for the media coverage. They both were phenomenal with their camera expertise, and went an extra step ahead to fully document my summit experience.
Moreover, accompanying us were six porters as well. Five of them carried our luggage, and one of them was a High Altitude porter: Sarwar Taqi Shigri, whose job was to assist our Lead climber. All six of them were also from Arandu.
Q11: Share any funny moment of this memorable voyage?
The funniest moment which I enjoyed the most was when we were in the middle of our journey; I and my media team were experiencing huge difficulties, as the surrounding conditions were getting tougher. Surprisingly, our Lead climber and High Altitude porter were enjoying every bit of this expedition since; they were continuously singing a local song, and looked extremely fresh.
Q12: How the people of Arandu, Gilgit-Baltistan reacted to your achievement?
It was fabulous! When I returned after successfully completing my journey, the whole town of Arandu was out to congratulate me. They arranged a special dinner in honor of our whole team, and the hospitality and generosity they showed to us is something that I cannot express in words.
Here, I also want to share a terrific experience that I witnessed there. Zain Abbas Butt, who was part of our media team from the Woodpecker Solutions, suffered a severe foot injury, as he encountered an avalanche during our trek to first camp Bukan. Because of the injury, Zain could not continue further with us. However, to honor Zain for his summit attempt, the people of Arandu named “Zain Trek,” the whole track from Arandu to Bukan. This heartwarming response from the local community fascinated me a lot.
Q13: How you bear the expenses of your travelling. Are you doing some job as well?
For this particular expedition, the Malam Jabba Ski Resort sponsored this whole journey. Before that, I collected money through freelance projects like event management and organizing sports events for various organizations.
Q14: Samar, you think that mountain climbing as adventure sport is given due recognition in Pakistan that it deserves?
Definitely not! The Lead climbers in particular come from different areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, and if you see their personal condition, it is heartbreaking and painful. They are our true heroes and our asset, and sadly, our people know nothing about their achievements and in which poor conditions they are living. It is these people, which play a pivotal role in success of any summit expedition, and therefore, they deserve a huge round of applause.
Q15: Are you satisfied with the travelling infrastructure of our nation?
The travelling infrastructure in Pakistan is simply pathetic. I am surprised that people in our top hierarchy are unable to understand that how rich Pakistan is in terms of travelling destinations. There is no proper tourism policy, as to what subsequent steps should be taken to build a concrete travelling infrastructure in our country. Above all, the most disappointing aspect is that there is no suitable rescue system available in northern areas of Pakistan, where every year plenty of tourists and summit expeditions arrive, and hence, there is fair chance of mishaps. This is an area where the government needs to take initiatives on emergency basis.
Q16: For mountain climbing, what areas an individual should focus on if he/she is willing to pursue this adventure sport?
Initially, one should start his/her basic training from wall climbing, as it increases your upper arm strength and reduces height phobia. Then, it is extremely important to have complete ground training about mountaineering equipment. After that, an individual must strictly follow a diet and physical training plan because; you need absolute body fitness to be a climber.
Q17: In Pakistan, which is your favorite travelling destination and why?
My favorite travelling destination in Pakistan is Hunza valley. I do not have the words to describe how beautiful Hunza valley is. The reason I like Hunza valley is because, it provides views of several tall peaks such as: Rakaposhi (7788 meters), Ultar Sar (7388 meters), Bojahagur Duanasir II (7329 meters), Ghenta Sar (7090 meters), Hunza Peak (6270 meters), Darmyani Peak (6090 meters) and Bublimating also known as Ladyfinger Peak (6000 meters). In addition to it, the whole passage of Karakoram Highway from Gilgit onwards, always remain in my dream travel list as it has amazing and mesmerizing views, which I strongly recommend everyone should explore.
Q19: What is your weekend stay home attire?
T-Shirts and Trousers.
Q20: What is one thing you have in your closet that you want to wear, but somehow don’t?
A party wear dress with big fall. I am somehow not getting time to wear it.
Q21: Who is your favorite male and female actor?
James McAvoy and Gal Gadot.
Q22: Which singer you like the most?
Q23: The best movie that you last saw?
Q24: Are you a foodie person?
Q25: Which food you like the most?
I like fruits very much, especially citrus fruits.
Q26: What are your upcoming travelling plans?
My immediate plan is to develop skills in skiing. However, my long term plan and a dream as well, is to participate in Olympics cycling competition, and get a Gold Medal for my country.
Q27: What message would you give to the Kluchit readers?
Read, discover and explore your inner world! Find your internal strengths, and use it for honor of your people and your country.
Ahmed Raza is a frequent traveler and loves cricket. He has completed M. Phil in Mass Communication and works as Travel Editor for Kluchit.com
13 Apr 2018
18 May 2017