Imran Ali

Rock climbing is possibly one of the most difficult and dangerous forms of extreme sports. It involves climbing vertical mountain sides, often without a safety harness or rope. Imran Ali is a 36-year-old climber from Quetta, who was recently notified after a video of him on social media went viral. In the death-defying video, he can be seen scaling Char Shakh Mountain in Mari Abad. Ali belongs to the Hazara tribe of Balochistan who reside in Mari Abad.

Ali says Char Shakh (Four Peaks, approx 3200m) is his favorite climb as he finds it the most difficult of all the peaks in Quetta. “There is a new challenge waiting for me every time I climb it,” he says, adding that this is the reason why he has trained around 30 other climbers there as well.

The climber’s vertical growth began when he was only 13 years old and a student in the eighth grade. “You are not very sane at this age,” he admits. “Nothing scares you. You dare. You believe that there is nothing that you cannot do. Living in the mountainous environment of my city also marked me.

Climbing involves not only strength, endurance, skill and a sure footing, but also the ability to make quick decisions – when you stand halfway up a steep mountain wall, with only your feet. With your feet and hands gripping nooks and crannies in the rocks, the decision on which way to go next can literally be the difference between life and death.

Imran Ali is a climber from Quetta who believes his extreme sport, with all its excitement, sensations and dangers, has enormous reach in Pakistan, given so many mountain peaks here begging to be tempted.

Ali admits that, unlike mountaineering, rock climbing may not be as exciting a sport in popular perception. “In our country, it is the mountaineers that people admire the most. Movies and documentaries have also added to the glamor of mountaineering. The late Mohammad Ali Sadpara, Mirza Ali Baig, Samina Baig, etc., have become household names. But there are many other unsung heroes of rock climbing as well. They can also make a name for themselves for Pakistan if they have a certain visibility, ”he said.

Clearly, Ali considers himself one of the unsung heroes. And he might be right.

“A few years ago, when American mountaineer Alex Honnold conquered one of Yosemite Mountain’s 3000m peaks during his solo attempt with ropes, it took him a year and a half to simply observe the peaks of the summits. After that, he did a full sketch and attempted to climb up, which led to him filming his progress along the way as well. But here I can’t even afford such a camera to cover my climbing expertise, ”he says.

When asked if the government provided facilities for climbers, he replied that this had not yet happened “because our government is not even aware of these sports”.

Still, Ali says he can train young people in fast climbing, which is also an Olympic sport.

Grabbing nooks and crannies in the rocks, deciding on the next way to get around can literally be the difference between life and death

“In fact, I had been approached by students from Islamabad and Lahore to teach them rock climbing, but I could not accept their request because I needed more equipment for their safety. And for that, I need funding, ”he says.

“This is the reason why I, through some of my links, tried to reach the Provincial Sports Ministry of Balochistan and they asked me to climb some other mountains of Quetta, to do a portfolio, etc., so that my proposal be accepted, ”he said.

“I had also approached a private label, which promotes such sports in their advertisements and campaigns. I told them I would do live stunts for them too, but they weren’t interested because maybe I’m not such a big public figure like our climbers yet, ”he says.

Considering the skill required and the danger of the sport, however, this is definitely not for everyone.

“There are interested people here who want to climb, but when they come to see me up close, they lose heart and recoil. It is true that there is more than 90% chance of losing your life in rock climbing. You have to stay focused, ”he says.

When asked if he had international or local inspirations in solo climbing, Ali said he greatly admired David Lama, a free Austrian solo climber. “He was lucky to have many sponsorships and international recognition. This is also how I got to know him. I used to follow each of his videos and interviews. Sadly, he and his fellow climbers Jess Roskelley and Hansjörg Auer lost their lives when caught in an avalanche on Howse Peak in the Waputik Range of the Canadian Rockies in 2019. The group had climbed a new route on the east face of Howse. Peak, one of the toughest Canadian rock and ice faces, ”he says.

Ali says he has provided his name and number to all the local climbers and climbers he knows. “It’s to offer them my climbing and rescue service. I have saved many climbers in this area who got stuck in the mountains. Climbers do that.

“I still remember when a local boy fell into a hole in the mountains. Luckily my younger brother was with this team and he called me to save the boy. I went down to get him with my ropes. He was seriously injured, but I had my first aid kit with me, which helped me a bit until I raised him, ”he says.

About his plans for the future, Ali says, “I will attempt a 300-meter steep mountain in the Char Shakh mountain range. I asked a friend to come with me and make a drone video of my ascent, because the beauty of this sport can only be shown through a drone camera, ”he smiles.

“My goal is to climb the K-2, G1, G2 and Nanga Parbat summits using my climbing techniques. Although I know all the equipment I would need for this, due to lack of financial support, I can’t think of doing it any time soon, ”he sighs.

Posted in Dawn, EOS, September 26, 2021