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An introduction to High Altitude Sustainability

An introduction to High Altitude Sustainability

A short introduction to the organization, the issues to be addressed, our approach and programs.


  1. High Altitude Sustainability Pakistan Gilgit- Baltistan Porter Welfare and Sustainable

    Mountaineering Fund High Altitude Sustainability Gilgit- Baltistan Porter Welfare and Sustainable Mountaineering Fund
  2. Photo credits: Cover Page: Balti Porter, Ahmad A Karim photography

    Page 4: Ahmad A Karim photography Campsite on Concordia, Baltoro Glacier.
  3. The Area and Issues Gilgit-Baltistan is the northern most territory

    of Pakistan, with an area of 72,791 km2 and a population of two million. It is home to three of the world’s greatest mountain ranges, five of the world’s 14 highest peaks and three of the world’s largest glaciers outside the Polar regions - Baltoro, Godwin Austen and the Biafo glaciers. At ‘Concordia’, the innermost sanctum of the Karakorum range, lies the confluence of these glaciers and the starting point for assaults on the highest peaks. For these reasons it is seen as a paradise for mountain climbers and trekkers from all over the world and the region receives heavy traffic. However, this has resulted in severe pressure on the fragile mountain ecosystems. One of the major negative effects is the waste left behind. The use of horses, mules, donkeys and yaks for transporting supplies for expeditions has also resulted in improperly disposed carcasses on the glacier. The resulting impact of this environmental footprint includes: • Environmental deterioration of the glaciers. • Water contamination at the site and in glacial runoff. • Increased glacial melt and risk of flooding. HAS is dedicated to responsible tourism and clearing the mountain waste which has accumulated through the decades in these areas.
  4. The People A key issue with management of adventure tourism

    in northern Pakistan is the support available to the local communities that sustain it. Pakistani High Altitude Porters (or ‘Khurpas’ in the local Balti language) are the traditional backbone for expeditions in the area. These are the tough, proud but economically marginalized local people who assist teams in trekking and climbing. Khurpas make the success of climbers possible by following an unimaginably strenuous regimen. Carrying up to 25 kg for the party in addition to their own rations they sometimes transport up to 40 kg over high altitudes and walk more than ten hours a day. However, they are at manifest disadvantage from a lack of resources for suitable training and equipment. They are often the only breadwinners in their families, which mostly rely on subsistence farming and have a very short earning season during the summers. Khurpas also suffer from various welfare issues like lack of proper health insurance in case of injuries and nonexistent retirement plans. They often have to abandon active participation in expeditions on reaching the age of 45 or so. The result is economically devastating for the families. These issues are leading to more and more of the communities not opting for this line of work and seeking other opportunities. HAS is dedicated to filling this gap that exists in adequate support for these unique mountain communities. Young Balti porter celebrating in Paju Camp
  5. About Us High Altitude Sustainability (HAS) is a contribution based

    organization established in 2015 to aid in managing the sustainability of adventure tourism in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. HAS aims to support responsible tourism in the region by affecting the entire eco- system - the people who work on the glaciers and trails as well as the area itself. Through our social development activities HAS aims to improve porter welfare. Our goal is offer financial support, highlight the outstanding achievements of high altitude porters, the problems they face and support their prerequisites for a sustainable future. With our environmental conservation initiatives HAS endeavors to impact waste removal, raise awareness on the ecological footprint of adventure tourism and the gaps in the current systems in place to manage this impact. In order to effectively address these issues we aspire to catalyze, help coordinate and organize joint action on relevant issues bringing together stakeholders including local porter and guide associations, local community representatives, tour operators, local and international NGOs and relevant government departments. Porters with the “Sustain Baltoro 2015” Cleanup Expedition collecting trash in Paju camp, Baltoro Glacier
  6. Our Mission To form a voluntary multi-sector alliance of stakeholders

    and individual contributors dedicated to developing and implementing initiatives supporting the sustainable development of adventure tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan. Our Approach HAS supports a multi-sector approach to responsible development of tourism through initiatives that address both the social and environmental aspects of trekking and tourism in the Gilgit-Baltistan. We do this by focusing on the following key areas: • Support for high and low altitude porters. • Supporting environmental conservation of glaciers and trails in the region. • Creating a knowledge base through research and Social documentary production. • Awareness raising and advocacy. around social and environmental threats and opportunities. Porters with the Sustain Baltoro 2015 Cleanup Expedition carry trash from Baltoro to Askole
  7. Porter Welfare Through our welfare programs we aim to provide

    livelihood and welfare support to porters. This includes the creation and implementation of a fund for the purpose of: • Providing equipment and vocational training support for promising climbers from particularly disadvantaged backgrounds. • Contributing financial support in case of accidental death to the family of the deceased to augment current insufficient insurance policies available to porters. • Providing medical support in case of illness or injury sustained while supporting treks or expeditions. • Contributing to welfare of familes and financial support for education of children. • Creation of a retirement fund for porters and guides. Balti porter at Urducas Camp, Baltoro glacier Current programs In the current quarter we have: • Provided summit shoes, backpacks, sleeping bags and sleeping mats to porters identified by local partners. • Extended financial support for the education of daughters of high altitude porters. • Arranged training for high altitude cooks on hygiene and nutrition. • Provided free first aid and basic medical support in HAS camps on the Baltoro glacier.
  8. Clean-Up Expeditions In order to manage the impact of trekking

    and climbing in the region HAS is engaging in joint cleanup expeditions with local partners. The aim of these expeditions is to retrieve solid waste and animal carcasses left during each climbing season on the trails and glaciers as well as raising awareness around these issues. We are currently working on the Baltoro Glacier with partners Khurpa Care Pakistan (KCP) under our “Sustain Baltoro” program. The aim of the June- July expedition was the retrieval and disposal of 2500 Kgs of animal carcasses and solid waste. HAS with a team of 35 porters cleaned on every stage from Askoli Village (3045 meters) to Concordia (4600 meters), a stretch of 80 km over the course of 15 days. A total of 4,498 kg was collected, almost doubling the required outcome in addition to 76 pack animal carcasses. HAS aims to carry out a minimum of one cleanup expedition a year in order to contribute to clearing the waste accumulated in the area. The team removing a carcass from Goro 2 camp
  9. The team remove a donkey carcass from Urducas camp HAS,

    Khurpa Care Pakistan and a team of 35 porters departing Askoli for the first joint clean-up expedition “Sustain Baltoro 2015” The team weighs trash collected at Joula camp
  10. The team provide medical support in Khubursay camp The team

    bury a donkey carcass in Joula camp Mule carcass collected at Concordia
  11. HAS team carrying out field research in Paju Camp, Baltoro

    Glacier Research and documentation By creating a knowledge base HAS aims to highlight specific social issues affecting the porter community and sustainable adventure tourism through: • Research in the disciplines of human rights, health and safety and international best practices in the adventure tourism industry. • Surveys on socio-economic challenges faced by porter and mountain communities. • Situation briefs for trekking and climbing parties arriving in the area. • Production of short social documentaries on the area and issues. Advocacy and Awareness raising HAS aims to raise awareness around the environmental and social issues impacting sustainable tourism in Gilgit- Baltistan through arranging: • Volunteering initiatives for students. • Press conferences. • Organizing stakeholder dialogue. • Events and exhibitions. Joint HAS and KCP (local partners) press conference held at at Skardu Press Club
  12. High Altitude Sustainability Gilgit- Baltistan Porter Welfare and Sustainable Mountaineering

    Fund To help support our work contact us on: High Altitude Sustainability 33, St 23, F-10/2 Islamabad, Pakistan 44000 Phone: 051-2293395 Mobile: 03458550446 [email protected] www.highaltitudesustainability.org Registered Trust no. 1308