It was in the middle of August when I received a call from my good friend Nisar Malik asking me if I was up for another adventure in Pakistan. At the time, I was in Chile guiding heli-skiing. Summer was just very far away and while most of the world was enjoying the beach, I was dreaming of snowy peaks.
The pitch was very appealing; a growing IP company called Afiniti, willing to offer to their guests a unique experience, had asked us to take them heli-skiing in the Karakorum. While this sounds easy on paper, to fly a helicopter in the Hymalayas near Cashmere and its explosive reputation was actually full of obstacles. Anyhow, I guess we like a challenge and the opportunity to fly again in the Karakorum was irresistible.
After many emails, phone calls, and meetings, we landed in Islamabad on a sunny day in February 2017. The long journey to the mountains was just beginning. We had to reach Skardu, only a few kilometres away from the infamous K2 as well as several other 8,000ers like Gasherbrum and Broad Peak. The journey is nothing compared to a train ride from Geneva to Chamonix. We did however manage the stunning flight from Islamabad to Skardu with a magnificent tour around Nanga Pargbat- another one of the 5th 8,000 metre peaks in Pakistan.
We landed in Skardu, suddenly surrounded by huge mountains and realised straight away what is meant by ‘deep in the Hymalayas’.
The successful collaboration with the army, and the growing respect between the guides and the pilots was what made the third experience even more successful than the previous trips. Within no time we got our team of skiers up the mountain, and despite everyone’s excitement, once we reached the summit everybody fell silent. I could describe the endless runs of amazing powder, the vast landscape, and the thrill of flying army helicopters deep in the Karakorum, but I guess it is better to leave this to your imagination.
One thing was for sure, this was certainly out of the ordinary. The skiing was amazing but the overall experience was outstanding. Once again, I fell in love with the Pakistanese people, knowing how much they were suffering from the negative image brought by mainstream medias. We felt very safe in the mountains, and were treated like kings. We skied through the Hymalayas in places previously untouched by man, arriving back safe with the promise to spread the word that Pakistan is a fabulous and safe country.