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Renowned Pakistani Mountaineer Ali Raza Sadpara Dies

The high-altitude specialist was critically injured in a fall in May

Renowned Pakistani mountaineer Ali Raza Sadpara died in Skardu early Friday morning weeks after being critically injured in a climbing accident. He was 56.

On May 17, he slipped off a cliff and fell some distance. He was rushed to the District Headquarters Hospital in Skardu for treatment where doctors found his spinal cord was fractured and ribs broken.

Sadpara was scheduled to attempt an ascent of K2, the world’s second-highest peak, later this year. He started climbing in 1986 and had climbed 8,000-metre peaks 17 times, including Broad Peak (8,047 m), Gasherbrum-II (8,035 m), Gasherbrum-I (8,068 m) and Nanga Parbat (8,125 m). He’d also climbed climbed Sia Kangri, Baltoro Kangri and Spantik.

Climbers, politicians, friends and family expressed condolences over the past 24 hours. In a statement, the foreign minister of Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari extended his condolences to Sadpara’s family. Minister for climate change Sherry Rehman said Sadpara’s passing was “surely a great loss for Pakistan”.

“His legacy lives on in the generation of mountaineers he trained over the course of his courageous life. My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family. May his soul rest in peace,” she said on Twitter.

Mountaineer Sirbaz Khan, the only Pakistani to have climbed 10 mountains above 8,000 metres, said Sadpara had raised the Pakistani flag on 8,000-metre summits more times than any other mountaineer. Khan said Sadpara had trained a whole generation of mountaineers, adding that he was called “ustaadon ka ustaad” (teacher of teachers).

Fellow climber Saad Munawar, said, “Heartbroken at the demise of Ali Raza. Death is indeed the biggest reality of life. Pakistan will miss a legend. Pakistani mountaineers will miss their mentor and the mountains will miss their best friend.”

American big mountain skier Luke Smithwick shared a picture of Sadpara from Gasherbrum-II last summer, and said, “He was with another team yet we all worked together on 8000 metre mountains, that’s how summits happen.” Or condolences to Sadpara’s family, friends and climbing community.