Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Mountaineering: the grandest of sports

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I don’t know if anyone else ever said it, but I say mountaineering is the king of sports. It is the grandest of sports played out in a unique setting where the player is pitted against nature. It is not a sissy’s game where a few drops of rain makes you run for cover. Mountaineers climb because there is something unique that drives them; and we have to accept that these people are driven.

Nazir Sabir, the greatest Pakistani mountaineer, once told me that he was driven to see what lay on the other side of the mountain. But I think, more than seeing what lies outside, it is that these special people want to see what is within. They seek to discover the self and no better way of doing it than pitting themselves against relentless, unforgiving Nature.

Not being a mountaineer myself, I do not know what takes these remarkable women and men to the highest places on earth. But I know that each is driven by a different motive. Strangely, however, when they stand on the summit, something seems to come over them because all the mountaineers I have spoken to did not remark on what they saw around them. They seemed not to notice the endless parade of smaller peaks spreading all around them. I like to believe that once on the summit, these people are completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of their own achievement.

There is one thing that no mountaineer can ever be: arrogant. Nazir Sabir, Doug Scott, Sher Khan and the late Wolfgang Gölich are all men that I personally know and I know for a fact that there is not an ounce of arrogance in these people. They are extremely humble. Mountaineers are great people and good human beings.

Related: Nazir Sabir: A world beyond the Mountains, Samina and Ali: Samina Baig standing tall at Everest


posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 21 June 2013 at 10:06, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sport is for select few. There are even fewer to watch and appreciate. Jamshed

At 21 June 2013 at 11:46, Blogger Sajini Chandrasekera said...

I do agree that mountaineers are humble people coz if not they will not be able to reach their destination.
Lovely post

At 21 June 2013 at 12:51, Anonymous Saima Ashraf said...

One who goes up and up, is down to earth more. Yes agree.

At 21 June 2013 at 14:29, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

I don't know by what mechanism can anyone make mountaineering a sport valued as much as worthless cricket played by illiterate urchins off small-town streets. The name of a third rate crook masquerading as a cricketer is known nationwide. But people don't know Nazir Sabir.

At 27 September 2013 at 01:56, Anonymous Tariq Malik said...

"Let others play at other things. The king of games is still the game of kings." Ah, but that was about polo. I wonder if mountaineering too could be immortalized on similar lines. Only Salman Rashid--our very own Marco Polo--can do that!

At 4 October 2013 at 21:03, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Tariq, you are very kind. Thank you very much.


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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

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