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Lino Lacedelli - First Climber of K2 in Pakistan after 50 years

The names like Edmond Hillary & Tensing Sherpa, Herman Buhl, Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli always fascinated me due to their great feats of achieving the honour to undertake the challenge of world tallest and famous peaks of Mount Everest, Nanga Parbat and K2. The duo, Hillary & Tenzing made to reach atop Everest and the lone person Herman Buhl climbed Nanga Parbat in 1953, leaving the only important peak i.e. K2.

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts made by Americans, a short man in height, Prof. Ardito Desio from Italy made it to conquer the tall peak of K2. With the help of a good team of climbers and with great preparations, Desio was successful when Achille Compagnoni & Lino Lacedelli conquered the K2 in 1954.

As we planned to celebrate the 50th. Anniversary to the first climb of K2, this year a good number of trekkers and climbers came to Pakistani for trekking and climbing.

Lino Lacedelli at the age of 79 also came to Pakistan after 50 years, with a plan to trek to K2 base camp, probably to witness his great achievement. As a part of celebrations, he and his team were supposed to go to K2 base camp while his grandson had already left for Baltoro to attempt a climb on K2.

I had a timely chance to meet him on 28th. June 2004 when Lacedelli along with his daughter and other team members, visited ministry of tourism for a briefing session for trekking permit.

After finishing from formalities and a photo session, I got an opportunity to talk with him through his daughter as an English interpreter. Few important and interesting questions made to him are being mentioned here for the interest of readers.

Q. Are you confidant that you will be able to walk to base camp at an age of 79, as the trek is one of the most demanding and tough in the world?
A. Yes, I feel comfortable as I am prepared for this trekking and had some daily walk for practice before coming to Pakistan.

Q. Do you remember the Pakistani members with your expedition?
A. Yes, there were a few members with our team and then several porters as well. The most important and friendly personality was that of Attaullah ( a person from army, detailed with us as an observer and doctor ). He became a friend of the team members ( Lacedelli recalled that Attaullah also visited his village in Italy ).
Ishaq, a tall and nice man worked with us as our camp cook. Mehdi did a great job as a high altitude porter.

Q. After the death of your partner, Mario Puchoz, what was yours and other team memberís reaction?
A. Off course it was nerve shattering as Puchoz was one of the strongest members in the team and was considered among summit bidders. Initially we were very much disturbed and immediately stopped climbing on hearing the news. Our morale fell down to minimum. Later on after the meeting of the team, it was decided to resume the climb and if we become successful, it will be a great tribute to our friend on achieving our goal.

Q. What was your feeling as a member of the team, were you confidant that you will reach to top?
A. It was my dream and I was confidant as a climber and was ready to take any challenge but I was never confidant that that I will climb the peak.

Q. What was the feeling while standing on the top of K2?
A. On reaching the summit, I was badly tired and there wasnít any special feeling. We just stayed there for few minutes to take photographs and started climbing down as we had a long way down to reach our camp.

Q. How did you felt when come down to base camp?
A. Off course, there was an air of pleasure and we were jubilant and when we reached back in the cities, there was a very good reception, especially in Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi.

Questions with his daughter!

Q. How do you feel being daughter of Mr. Lacedelli, a hero of his time?
A. My father climbed K2 before my birth so for me it was a story. But when I grew up, everybody mentioned about his achievement and it always made me happy and ( becoming sentimental and sobbing ) I am proud on being his daughter.

Q. As this is your first visit to Pakistan so how do you feel here?
A. It was my dream as I had heard a lot about Pakistan and still after 50 years, my father is well known in Pakistan and we had a great reception at all places, so I am enjoying my trip.

Q. Would you make any comment about the impression of Pakistan, created by the media?
A. I was a bit worried before coming and didnít bring my daughter who is 16 at the moment. But now after arriving and staying for few days, I have planned to visit again along with my daughter and will show her the place where her grand father achieved a distinguished honour of being the first to climb K2.

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