Many many moons ago as a dedicated mountaineer I sought every opportunity to climb where ever and whenever I could. I cut my teeth rock climbing on cliffs and coasts in Australia, from the stunning crags of Moonarie in the Flinders Ranges of mid-northern South Australia to the legendary Mount Arapilies in Victoria. I went on to learn mountaineering in New Zealand in 1975 on Mount Aspiring and later on Mt Cook. I then graduated to small expeditions to Peru, successfully making ascents of Alpamayo and Huascaran in the Cordillera Blanca. Then after almost a decade and several expeditions to the Nepal Himalaya, I was invited to go an Australian Army expedition to the Karakoram Mountains of Pakistan. On this expedition we successfully climbed Broad Peak, one of the “easier” 8000m peaks.
Recently my book group selected Three Cups of Tea to read. A signed copy of his had been sitting in my bookshelf for 5 years ever since I heard Greg Mortenson speak on his work with the Central Asia Institute building schools in the most remote areas of Northern Pakistan. I had in fact trekked to and from Broad Peak 8047 m up and down the Braldu River and Baltoro Glacier passing by on the opposite bank, the tiny village of Korphe, where Greg helped the villagers build his first school. From near the summit of Broad Peak K2 is clearly visible in the distance (above) wearing a plume of cloud. Greg had failed on an attempt on K2 some years after our climb of Broad Peak, but this failure in turn led him to a completely different life path which resulted in making a very positive impact on thousands of people in Asia and inspiring others around the world.
Reading this fascinating book prompted me to seek out some images of my own trek and climb to share with my book group. This quickly became a more involved exercise that I was unable to complete before we met and discussed the book. Producing the resulting slide show Climbing Broad Peak 8400M however, gave me a heightened interested in the region and prompted me to listen to Stones into Schools, Greg’s follow up book. The great work that Mortenson and the CAI is doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan is to be commended and supported financially.