Project Report: Sustain Baltoro 2015 Cleanup Expedition. Project name: Sustain Baltoro 2015 Project type: Cleanup expedition Reporting period: 21st June 2015– 15th July 2015. Location (s): Skardu city, Askoli village, Baltoro Glacier, Concordia. Date: 31st July 2015. Section 1: Summary The “Sustain Baltoro” cleanup expedition is carried out under High Altitude Sustainability (HAS) Objective 1: “Supporting environmental conservation of glaciers and trails in Gilgit-Baltistan”. The planning process, the first joint Baltoro Cleanup Expedition and press conference with local partners Khurpa Care Pakistan (KCP) was successfully completed in the reporting time-period. Section 2: Activities and Progress During the current reporting period the following activities were carried out: 2.1 Planning and Preparation Travel (Islamabad to Skardu: 20th – 21st June 2015): Hanniah Tariq (monitoring and evaluation manager for the implementing team) travelled to Skardu by private car hire due to unavailability of flights and excess materials to be transported including solar panel system and other supplies. Transport and security was arranged through local partners Khurpa Care Pakistan (KCP). Volunteers (Nadia Akram and Zahra Khalid) travelled by air in the same time period. The HAS team met with the core team from KCP on the 21st of June.
Supply procurement, preparation and orientation/ briefing (Skardu: 22nd – 23rd June 2015): Technical supplies (axes, shovels and packing materials) were procured in Skardu. General supplies and food were also purchased in consultation with the kitchen team from KCP. An orientation meeting was carried out on the 23rd with roles of the Core team (managers, kitchen staff and volunteers) clarified. Health and Safety, ground rules and expected conduct for the expedition were also discussed. Porters were distributed into 2 distinct teams to walk at the head and tail each day. A 3-person steering committee was appointed to manage day-to-day decision-making and resolving any potential disputes. 2.2. Introduction to the Implementing team An introduction to the team and duties assigned in the briefing follow: Food supplies for the trip being sorted in Skardu Zahid Rajput, President, KCP: Expedition Leader, member of steering committee and liaison for porter disputes and requests. Zahid Rajput is a high altitude guide and the president of Khurpa Care Pakistan since 2005. He is an important proponent of porter rights and welfare, accessible and safe tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan. He is often involved in setting up stakeholder dialogue. Zahid Rajput, KCP
Hanniah Tariq, CEO, HAS: Expedition Monitoring and Evaluation manager, member of expedition steering committee, camp medic and liaison for volunteer disputes and requests. Hanniah is an avid trekker and the Founder / CEO of High Altitude Sustainability. Hanniah resides in Karachi but maintains a field presence during season in Gilgit-Baltistan. She has been involved in the monitoring and evaluation of development projects since 2007. Hanniah Tariq, HAS Ali Hussain Shigri, Senior trainer, KCP: Porter ‘Sirdar’, camp set-up/management, member of steering committee and leader for cleanup team 1 when in camp. Shigri is a high altitude guide and a senior trainer with KCP. He managed a very diverse role including group wakeup call, overseeing camp pack-up (starting last in the morning), walking the fastest to catch- up with the kitchen staff and oversight of camp setup. Ali Hussain Shigri, KCP
Muhammad Sharif, Trainer, KCP: Leader for cleanup team 2 and Assistant medic. Previously not having worked with HAS Muhammad Sharif proved to be an extremely useful addition to the cleanup efforts, heading the tail pickup team. Sharif also supported the camp medic during porter medical assistance. Muhammad Sharif, KCP Cleanup team 1: Team 1 walked at the head of the group with Zahid and Hanniah while they carried out reconnaissance and documentation of carcasses and waste. The team helped with the collection of smaller waste not in need of breaking down and were also responsible for carrying most of the camp setup equipment like the mess and private tents. Clean-up team 1 Cleanup team 2: Team 2 walked at the tail of the group breaking down all solid carcasses and larger waste with axes before packing it. Team 2 began to be referred to as the commando group who could be radioed to pick up virtually anything that was seen by team 1. Clean-up team 2
Kitchen team: The kitchen staff was responsible for the daily preparation of 3 meals, transportation of kitchen equipment as well as providing tea/coffee multiple times a day. Fida Hussain Shigri, Fida Hussain and Musa took care of the team’s nutritional needs as well as lent a hand with cleanup every time they were free. They were the first ones up (to prepare breakfast), pack the kitchen, first to leave camp and had tea and biscuits waiting for the team when they arrived in the next camp. Volunteers: Documentation and daily backing up of videos and pictures of the project. Zahra Khalid is an aspiring dancer from Islamabad and Nadia Akram, an educationalist is also from Islamabad. Meeting with the Central Karakorum National Park CKNP (Skardu – 23rd June 2015): ZR and HT met with the Project Director Raja Abid Ali and Ecologist Syed Yasir Abbas Rizvi of CKNP before departure for Askoli. A generous waiver was granted on entry to the park for HT, NA and ZK (HAS) based on the mission of the expedition. 2.3. Expedition and Cleanup activity details The route from Askoli to Concordia “is strenuous, complicated, rough, only those who are physically fit and experts can undertake this venture”1 . The team embarked on this journey for the duration of the expedition with the purpose of removing dead bodies of transport animals and solid waste from the Baltoro Glacier in June- July 2015. Some details of the cleanup trip follow: 1 http://www.summitpost.org/baltoro-concordia-k2-base-camp-trail/717499 Fida Hussain Shigri and Fida Hussain Expedition cook and assistant cook Volunteers Zahra Khalid and Nadia Akram
Day 1: Skardu – Askoli (24th June 2015): Supplies were packed and jeep ride to Askoli from Skardu was arranged. Travel time was about 10 hours (6-8 hours normal in addition to the breakdown of one jeep as well as seasonal damage to key bridge before Askoli requiring crossing on foot and arranging transport on the other side). Askoli is at an elevation of 3048m and is the starting point for expeditions to 4 of Pakistan’s highest mountains through the Baltoro Glacier. The team arrived in Askoli village early evening and stayed in a local camping ground. Day 2: Askoli - Korophong (25th June 2015): The team set out at 530 am from Askoli after final words from KCP and HAS and a group photo. The first carcass encountered was a small lamb on the main path less than 50 meters from the beginning of the trail. The walk for the day was relatively simple and mostly followed a flat sandy path with a minor stream crossing. First animal carcass retrieved 50 meters from Askoli Transport breakdown on the way to Askoli 2 Group photo taken in Askoli prior to departure 1
The team arrived at Korophong by early afternoon. Lunch and a brief rest was followed by a comprehensive cleanup of the camp. Solar power was successfully set up by Zahid according to instructions provided by Tariq Iqbal Khan (Member of the Board of Trustees for HAS) and the camp had electricity for light in the mess tent as well as charging of electronic equipment. Day 3: Korophong – Joula (26th June 2015): The terrain on day 2’s walk was mostly flat with some walking along a steep cliff. Mostly solid waste was picked up along the path. 1 yak and 2 horse carcasses spotted were broken down and left to be carried on the way down. The team arrived by late afternoon at Joula camp (3100m). Lunch and a brief rest was followed by a comprehensive cleanup of the camp. Yak carcass on the way to Joula Camp Day 4: Joula - Paju (27th June 2015): The terrain on the walk from Joula to Paju began to show steeper climbs and some very rocky paths that proved to be very tiring to negotiate while collecting waste. The altitude is 3407m as compared to the start of the day at Joula camp (3100m), a gain of 307 meters in one day. The team had a packed lunch at Bardumal (3353m) after which a Fresh donkey carcass on the way from Joula to Paju The team packs a Yak carcass in Korophong
short cleanup was carried out on the site. On the way to Paju from Bardumal the first fresh body (estimated to be 2 days old) of a donkey was discovered by team 1. The body had to be dragged away from the riverbed to avoid further contamination and buried as opposed to being broken down and carried. Day 5: Paju (28th June 2015): The team spent the rest day from walking cleaning up the area in and around Paju camp. This is largest camp on the way to Concordia and gets an enormous amount of traffic. The team also received the first major request for medical attention. A porter from cleanup team 2 who had been working on a construction site prior to the expedition had extremely deep cuts on 7 fingers, which had signs of infection. He had been continuing to do his work with cleanup team 2 and the cuts had gotten contaminated. The depth of the cuts suggested stitches however in the absence of surgical training the camp medic could only disinfect and apply ‘cicatrin’ powder to the cuts daily. No bandages could be applied as wounds infect faster than normal in these conditions from previous experience. Other complaints at this stage consisted mainly of blisters, which required draining. Cleaning the main garbage pit in Paju Cleaning the main campsite in Paju
Day 6: Paju - Khubursay (29th June 2015): The walk from Paju to Khubursay was mainly walking on the glacier itself. The moraine (lose layer of dirt and rock covering the glacier) slowed the pace of the group and arrival in camp was around early evening. However an extensive cleanup was still conducted by the cleanup teams in spite of late arrival. More porters required medical attention at this camp. Mainly wounds on feet were infected due to poor footwear (most wear chappals/slippers) and not seeking help once initially infected. The team also treated porters not part of the group who were returning from expeditions on Broad Peak and G1/2. Most had severe eye problems resulting from over exposure to snow. Cleaning the main campsite in Khubursay Porter medical assistance in Khubursay Day 7: Khubursay - Urdukas (30th June 2015): The walk from Khubursay to Urdukas was all on the glacier with mostly steep climbs reaching the final altitude of 4067m. Urdukas camp and its surrounding areas had the largest amount of carcasses encountered. Arrival in camp late evening was followed by the retrieval of almost 21 bodies. More medical assistance was provided to both team porters and external porters returning from Cleaning the main campsite in Urdukas
other expeditions. Main complaints still included infected wounds and eye problems; however some porters were also displaying signs of altitude related illness including headaches, dehydration and diarrhea. Severe toothaches were also reported by a few returning porters. Porter medical assistance in Urdukas Day 8: Urdukas – Goro 2 (1st July 2015): The walk from Urdukas to Goro II has a steep ascent going from 4067 to 4500 in one day. The group had a packed lunch on Goro 1 and cleaned around the camp. Goro 2 is considered the toughest camp on the trip by partners KCP despite Concordia being higher. This is the first time camp was set directly on the glacier with no wind cover. Despite it being the lowest temperature and highest wind-chill factor experienced till this point, the team continued the regime of cleanup after reaching camp in the evening. Campsite at Goro 2
Day 9: Goro 2 – Concordia (2nd July 2015): From Goro II the final destination Concordia (4600m) was reached on 2nd July. As Concordia is a rarely used site (most expeditions choose not to camp there and proceed on to their final destination e.g. K2, G1, G2 or Broad peak) it was observed to be cleaner than most camps. The team took a half way tally in the evening. Day 10: Concordia – Goro 1 (3rd July 2015): After a unanimous decision taken by the steering committee it was decided to forfeit the rest day at Concordia due to absence of carcasses and comparatively negligible trash at the Concordia junction itself. Most trekking groups continue on to K-2/ G1/G2/ Broad peak base camp for which the team was not adequately prepared in terms of equipment. More porter assistance was provided before camp wrap-up for the day. Main problems encountered included eye problems and signs of altitude sickness. Additionally on decent the team continued past Goro 2, opting instead for the slightly further campsite of Goro 1 where temperatures are warmer. Half-way tally in Condoria Porter assistance at Concordia
Day 11: Goro 1 – Khoburse (4th July 2015): Camping on Urdukas was by passed on descent to continue on to Khoburse. The camp was found in reasonably clean conditions after initial efforts by both teams on ascent. The teams packed carcasses left behind initially to be carried down. Final packed carcasses for decent at Khoburse Day 12: Khoburse – Paju (5th July 2015): The team did a couple of stages in one day to continue off the glacier and reach Paju without making camp in the middle. The group arrived at Paju in the early evening. A lot more trash was visible from how it was left by the team a few days earlier on the way up. After a short rest Paju camp was cleaned for a second time and 11 more loads collected. Additional loads being wieghed from newly accumulated garbage at Paju camp Day 13: Paju - Joula (6th July 2015): The 11 loads collected on the previous day could not be brought down due to the size of the original team. These were left behind for an external team (2 KCP members not part of this cleanup who are permanently placed during season at Paju for porter registration and training) were requested to send down these extra loads with porters on their way down from other expeditions. These external porters were paid per kg brought down. Burying a fresh donkey carcass in Joula
In Joula camp a fresh donkey carcass (1 day old) not previously encountered was disposed of by burying it. Day 14: Joula to Askoli (7th July 2015): The team proceeded to Askoli directly from Joula. Upon reaching Askoli all animal remains and carcasses brought down were buried. The solid waste collected was deposited with the CKNP run incinerator in Askoli. All payments with porters were cleared by Ali Shigri and ones belonging to Askoli village departed. Animal carcasses being buried in Askoli Day 15: Askoli – Skardu (8th July 2015): The core Team departed Askoli early to avoid flooding along the way and further delays. Arrival was in Skardu by late evening. 2.4. Wrap-up and closing ceremony Board trip (Skardu, 9th April 2015): Board members Mansoor H. Khan, Javiad Khan and Tariq Iqbal Khan travelled to Skardu for the conclusion of the trip and participation in the closing ceremony/ press conference for the expedition. The board was able to meet the core team from KCP on the expedition, however due to delays in returning to Skardu for the expedition the board was unable to stay for the press conference scheduled for 13th July. Members of the Board Tariq Iqbal Khan and Mansoor Khan meet with HT in Skardu (photocredit Javiad Khan)
Press conference: A press conference and closing ceremony was held at the Press Club, Skardu on 13th July. A short video of the project was presented followed by a few words from Zahid Rajput and Hanniah Tariq and Q&A on the expedition and results. CKNP project director Raja Abid Ali and the president of the Skardu Press Club also spoke about the importance of such expeditions. Local press and stakeholders were present. Closing Dinner (Skardu 13th July 2015): Closing/farewell dinner organized by KCP for core team. Closing comments and remarks were all positive. Hanniah Tariq and Zahid Rajput at the Press Club, Skardu 13th July.
Section 3: Outcome Summary 3.1. Outcomes The goal of the project was the retrieval and removal of all animal carcasses from all stages (estimated weight 2500 Kg). The following table provides a summary of carcasses picked up as well as the total weight collected at every stage from Askoli to Concordia. Please refer to appendix 1 for a more detailed breakdown. Stage/ location Animal carcasses Weight (kgs) (animals and solid waste) Stage 1 Askoli to Joula 18 694.00 Stage 2 Joula to Paju 6 1,052.00 Stage 3 Paju to Khubursay 6 363.00 Stage 4 Khubursay to Urdukas 24 1,304.00 Stage 5 Urdukas to Goro 2 17 425.00 Stage 6 Goro 2 to Concordia 5 385.00 -- Extra loads (Paju to Askoli) 275.00 Total 76 4,498.00 3.2 Monitoring and Evaluation The retrieval and disposal of 2500 Kgs of animal carcasses and solid waste during one expedition was the only indicator of success established at the beginning of the project. The team retrieved a total of 4,498.00 Kgs, almost doubling the required outcome within the budget allocated, In the absence of an avenue for external verification at this point all monitoring was carried out by Hanniah Tariq on a daily basis. The teams weighed waste collected at each stage and pictures were taken of the weighing. Hanniah Tariq convened with Zahid Rajput and both cleanup team leaders every evening in the mess tent. Numbers were verified and signed off on by both organisations on a daily basis.
Zahid Rajput, KCP wieghs loads collected in Paju camp Hanniah Tariq, HAS tallies numbers with cleanup teams in the evenings Section 4: Next Steps It is imperative that these expeditions are continued in a sustained and regular manner as trash and carcasses continue to be accumulated every season. In order to have a stable funding base memberships will need to be increased for High Altitude Sustainability. The next cleanup expedition is scheduled for summer 2016 and funding is currently being sought.