The Nanga Parbat
Update 4th July 1997,
reached Pakistan on 30th June heading for
Nanga Parbat, the tenth of the fourteen
8000 metre peaks he is aiming to climb.
which means 'Naked Mountain' is the western
most peak of the Himalayan range and at
8125 metres, the worlds ninth highest mountain.
Nanga Parbat is the fastest growing Himalayan
mountain increasing in height by 7mm each
year. Its southern face is so steep that
it is bare of vegitation, the southern wall
is one of the worlds great precipices with
a drop of 5000 metres. First climbed in
1953 by a joint German and Austrian expedition
it is reputed to be the home of fairies,
demons, giant frogs and snow snakes!
Access to the
mountain is from the Karakoram Highway which
runs north from the North West Frontier
province of Pakistan up the Indus river
valley towards China. The approach runs
south from Chilas and then east up the Diarner
valley. The local Kohistani people have
a reputation for lawlessness and resistance
which goes back beyond the days of the Raj.
Alan and the team
are now acclimatising to the 40 degree plus
temperatures in Islamabad that mark the
coming of the Monsson. Fortunately Nanga
Parbat is on the extreme north-western edge
of the monsoon belt and compared to Nepal
the July weather is less of a problem for
climbers. However landslips and avalanches
regularly sever the lines of communication
and delays when travelling are to be expected.
Meanwhile the process of regaining peak
fitness has started with runs with the locak
Hash House Harriers, walking the Margalla
hills and cycling.
synomynous with the organisation of expeditions,
and working days since arrival have been
taken up with a series of meetings with
officials from the Ministry of tourism,
shipping agents and the British High commission.
Air freight has still to be released but
equipment is begining to pile up. Tents
and sleeping bags are being aired and checked
over, cooking utensils acquired from the
local bazaar and radios tested. hopefully
all will be ready by the middle of next
week and subject to cooperation from the
various authorities the team should be ready
to head north on Wednesday 9th July.
Nanga Parbat 8125
30 June 97 Arrive
Islamabad.Peter (Jackson) meets me at airport.
David & Robbie with me from Tyne Tees
Television. D&R to hotel. I go to Peter
and Maureen's house - a haven of air conditionong
and good food. Bacon sandwiches, beer and
real coffee. Very tired but don't have a
nap. The flight to Islamabad was overnight
& I didn't get much kip en route. Do
some preliminary admin and call in at British
High Commission Club (BHCC) for a beer and
snack. Eventually to bed at about 2200 hrs
1st July. Do not
wake until 1230 hrs !! because so tired.
Pak is 4 hrs ahead of UK time. 40 + degrees
C outside. Do mixed "hash" run.
2nd July. Lots
of organising and admin to do. Quite a lot
of stress because there's cargo (air freight)
to clear customs. I need more back up support
and understanding in Britain to help organise
the myriad of things necessary for an expedition.
I will be worn out before reaching the mountain.
Call in at Ministry of Tourism to see Alvie
and Jamal. I will have a "formal"
briefing later from them together with the
whole of my expedition's team.
Organise a mobile
phone from Paktel - very useful to keep
in touch with UK. Speak to media and Berghaus.
I flit around
Islamabad and Rawalpindi organising equipment
and food, eg petrol generator for lighting
and charging batteries at Base Camp, kerosene
stoves, Base Camp Mess Tents. (I have brought
mountain tents with me from UK)
I am also trying
to have fun with friends in Pakistan - both
Pakistani and ex-pat's.
3rd July Reception
at Peter and Maureen's so I can meet old
friends and some of theirs: Nazir Sabir
and Sher Kahn from 1997 Pakistan Everest
Expedition Malik who runs Adventure Tours
- I often have lunch with him, and many
It's a good social
evening, very enjoyable. Fabrizzio Zangrilli
arrives to. He's just flown in and will
join me on the climb of Nanga Parbat.
4th July Really
a "hell of a day" negotiating
with agents and buying kit. Stressful! Very
5th July Finalise
payment to an agent to help at Ministry
of Tourism. Meet Asem (Journalist) for a
feature in THE NATION a Pak newspaper. Telephone
6th July Up at
0630 and out for a walk/trek in Margalla
Hills above Islamabad. Leave vehicle at
0730 and it's already nearly 40 degrees
C. The air is
so hot and thick that it feels like I'm
at high altitude. It is difficult to breathe!
Fortunately Iam carrying four litres of
water and oral rehydration salts (ORS) -
the stuff you take in water when you have
diarrohea. Half way round there is a tea
shop and I drink a litre and a half of Coke,
Pepsi and Miranda (fizzy orange). Then I
fill a Nalgene bottle with another litre
of this sweet concoction. At least it is
fluid. I am sweating as if I am in a sauna.
It was nearly 50 degrees C.
There is a "tufa"
waterfall with 2 or 3 plunge pools where
I cool off along with a lot of local (male)
Pakistanis. In some ways this tufa cascade
reminds me of the Yorkshire Dales. I think
I would rather be scrambling up the tufa
cascade in Goredale Scar with a pint of
cask beer at the end of the hike.Eventually
we make it to BHCC for a tin of imported
ASussie insipid fiz. It does the trick and
tastes better than it would back in Blighty.
Later find out
that 26 people have died due to the extreme
heat in Islamabad!
Meet Liaison Officer
(LO). Try to clear the air freight. Still
v.v. hot - seems like surviving the heat
is a challenge before reaching Nanga Parbat.
Mens' hash run. Islamabad Hash House Harriers
(IH3). Too hot.
Eventually clear air
freight after spending FIVE hours in the
Custom's shed at Islamabad Airport. Lots
of interviews with British radio stations
and newspapers. Just as well I have the
Paktel mobile phone so they can contact
me. Mixed Hash run. Back at Peter and Maureen's
early and watch Blackadder video. Great!
Andrew (Guthrie) arrives.
He will join me as BC support for a while.
So now there are five to trek in :- two
from TTTv; Fab & I; and Andrew. The
2 TTTv men will leave after a week at BC.
at Ministry of Tourism. Pay US$ 4000 helicopter
rescue bond; US$ 1000
Bond; US$ 200 Environmental Fund donation.
Already paid US$ 7500 Peak Fee. US$ 800
(minimum) to LO plus US$100 worth of equipment
to him. This LO actually thinks he can join
and me on NP!!
He has never climbed a mountain in his life.
NP is known as "The Killer Mountain"
and he seems to think it is 'No
annoys us all as I know he will only hang
out at BC like a spare part. Finally leaving
early tomorrow morning. Maureen cooks a
superb leaving meal. Roast lamb, roast potatoes
& parsnips, Yorkshire Puds. From now
on it will be 'dal bhat' - dal & raice
& chapattis & eggs and chips.
Up at 0430 in Peter
and Maureen's house in Islamabad ready to
load the expedition gear onto the bus. There
and lightening storm during the night -
sounds like WW3. I hurt my back lifting
big heavy barrels when I am not warmed up
- 35 to 45 kg weight. Eventually all loads
are on the traditional Pakistaini bus. It
more like a gaudily
decorated 1960's dustbin lorry. It smells
like it too. It has not been cleaned - ever
probably - inside. Noisy and no air conditioning
- only open windows in 45 degrees C heat.
Peter gives us
two cases of beer for BC. Maureen makes
us all bacon sandwiches as we leave at 0730
After 8 -10 hours
we stop overnight in a Pakistan Tourist
Development Corpn (PDTC) motel at Besham
approx half way to Bunar Das - the road
head for the trek to NP.
Besham to Chilas, 8
hours. Bus and all the gear goes on 20 km
to the road head at Bunar Das. The 45 porters
will set off ahead of
us. We stay in
Chilas and will catch them up tomorrow in
the Diamer valley.
Walk down to the
mighty Indus River. The heat here in the
valley is overwhelming. It is like a furnace.
There is a scorching wind blowing up river,
it feels as hot as if it is coming from
a hair dryer. The Indus is grey-brown full
of glacial silt and mud. It is flowing rapidly
and alarmingly fast. I paddle in it &
cool myself off.Tired after the journey
and kip a little in the hotel rooom. It
has a 'cooler' and a fan - no aircond. We
have fun chucking newspapers and empty plastic
water bottles into the speeding fan.
Up in dark 0300 and
have open pick-up ride to 3 km above Bunar
Das. Begin walk in at 0530. It gets very
v.hot. See NP at head
of Diamer valley.
Korean Expedition is trekking out. One member
is carried out on a stretcher made from
two logs. He has frostbite. Most of locals
have guns. Old rifles or newer Chinese manufactured
automatic AK 47's with the distinctive banana
shaped magazine. This area has had a reputation
for banditry and lawlessness. Even the porters
are carrying rifles as well as their loads!
If we want they
will let us have a shot! Some porters have
donkeys to carry loads. The trek turns out
to be 13/14 long hours, especially
due to the filming
by the TTTv lads. With the heat and sweating
it is quite debilitating.
Night stop is
in a squalid village under some walnut trees
and there are swarms of flies. We eat fried
eggs and chips and chapattis.
A very short trekking
day - 2 hours! - to a village known as Kachal.
Wait out in the heat. I have a wash in the
remove the caked
on dust which has made a thick brown layermixed
with my sweat. Ritual slaughter of a goat
and a sheep for the porters
which I have to
pay for. Its a slow death for the sheep.
Jugular slit and windpipe cut but NOT the
spinal cord. A Halal killing. Gruesome.
To Base Camp at 4000m.
5 hours of pleasant trekking through woods
and meadows carpeted with blue forget-me-nots
and purple clover flowers.
Nanga Parbat is
THERE just above Base Camp at the North
Face of the Eiger from Alpiglen above Grindlewald.
A really impressive huge mountain.
Base Camp is on
rough grass and low at 4000m. Most Base
Camps are at 5000m plus and are on morraine
In fact the weather
is good still so it is hot and quite pleasant.
No need for a down jacket or the usual thick
sleeping bag. I expect it will rain though
as the monsoon comes in.
chapattis, chips and eggs. We had 2 bags
- 50kg of potatoes - but most have gone
rotten in the heat so the spuds and chips
will run out in a couple of days.
The night is warm
and the three quarters moon in the clear
sky gives a harsh white light. The porters
have been paid off and gone - yippee!
Gunfire at 0650 - just
porters and base camp cooks "playing".
Breakfast was porridge, chapattis, oiled
chapattis (or parathas) and eggs.
Set up base camp,
organise generator to charge batteries etc.
Back seems fairly
well recovered. The walk in wasn't too much
of a problem. Only a slight strain in Islamabad.
Sunny all day.
Clouds move in ominously
in afternoon. Little rain. Heavy for half
4 people reach summit
of Nanga Parbat. 2 Russians and 2 Japs.
Probably go to Camp 1 tomorrow at 4700m
- an easy walk. Rain - heavy for 2 hours
from 1600h and thunder and lightning.
Bed tea at 0700hrs.
Breakfast is at 0800hrs, usual porridge,
chapattis and eggs and Wheatabix. Pack to
go to Camp 1. Then the TTTv lads want to
film all the kit, so I lay out all the gear
for the mountain and film & photograph
Lunch - spam (fried),
onion, garlic and chapattis.
Heavy rain by
1500 to 1800hrs - & thunder and lightning.
Because of torrential
rain dig a narrow runnel at the top end
of the tent. Must go to Camp 1 tomorrow.
Back is bad - aches
and can't move properly. Probably re-strained
it digging (for only 5 minutes!). Back gets
worse, cannot go to Camp 1. Try a short
walk, back gets even worse. By afternoon
I cannot walk. I am crawling around Base
Camp - in agony!!
Back is seriously bad
now. I can hardly even crawl on my hands
and knees. It seems to spasm and I'm in
is leaving. Russian doctor and back expert
"beat me up". I get good treatment
if a little violent! Rest in tent.
Heavy rain 1530
Wake in night
because of back.
Wet morning. Back tiny
bit better. I can crawl and stagger short
distances with 2 ski sticks for support.
At evening meal
I sneeze and scream in agony as my back
spasms. It is worse than ever and I cannot
even hobble around now. Bad night,
little sleep because
of the pain. Torential rain in the night.
Can just about crawl
to breakfast. A lot of pain. By afternoon
I can hobble around again with sticks. I
reckon I will need a week to recover. Will
I recover or will Nanga Parbat have to wait
I wonder. I have never had a back problem
so I hope this heals enough so I can climb
Nanga Parbat "The Killer Mountain".
I will have to strengthen my back up in
gyms back in UK.
Start to feel
better and telephone Fiona on the satellite
The 2 Tyne Tees TV lads
leave Base Camp to trek out and return to
UK. I will miss David and Robbie but look
forward to a pint with
them back in the
North East of England.
Alan Hinkes. 24th
was the end of Alan's attempt at climbing
Nanga Parbat in 1997. His badly injured
back would take time to heal and the mountains
would have to wait.
article was written as Alan began his fitness
campaign back in Britain.
Alan Writes of his life
while preparing for the next stage
Alan Hinkes can hardly be described as normal.
Nor does his life resemble anything that
most of us would consider ordinary. Which
begs the question, what does Alan do when
he's not half-way up a mountain? What is
normal? Am I normal?
But what is normality?
I'm often asked, 'what do you normally do,
Alan?' Well, normally I climb mountains.
I certainly feel at home in the hills, and
completely 'normal'! Yet I donât feel
'abnormal' when I'm in Britain, in the office,
giving talks, writing, driving and doing
what most people would consider normal day-to-day
activities and tasks.
In fact, when
I come back I actually feel very appreciative
of this normality. I miss having good wine,
food and beer and I feel very lucky that
I can do what I want to do.
Between my mountaineering
expeditions, I have plenty of mundane things
to deal with. At the moment, much of my
time is occupied with getting fit, which
is quite important after my recent run-in
with a chapati on Nanga Parbat. In case
you hadn't heard , flour or dust on a chapati
caused me to sneeze and I prolapsed a disc.
I've since learned that apparently sneezing
or coughing is a common way to slip a disc,
although there is usually an underlying
weakness. In my case, I had strained my
back muscle after suffering from high altitude
rot. This somewhat strange term means that
when you've been too high, too long, your
body is getting debilitated and can't recover
properly. My body and particularly my muscles
had started wasting away and when I lifted
a heavy load I pulled a muscle. The sneeze
was the final catalyst. The whole chapati
thing caused so much media interest, but
then I suppose it was rather bizarre.
I'm having regular
physiotherapy at The Newcastle City Health
NHS Trust 'Back in Action' Clinic. This
specialist sports injury clinic is staffed
by very experienced physiotherapists and
open to anyone. It is dedicated to getting
athletes back fighting fit. They are even
prepared to treat and advise a mountaineer
such as me, well I'm an athlete of sorts!
physio is proving very effective; I can
bend right over and have increasing movement
with less pain. The prognosis is that I
should make a full recovery, although it
will be a few months before I am really
fit and strong again. In the meantime, it's
a matter of trying to fit the exercise in
around all my other commitments. At first,
I need to do gentle exercise, specifically
for back strengthening, before pushing my
body to more extremes again later on, when
I resume my Challenge 8000. A mini series
of three documentaries is planned for the
New Year on these expeditions, probably
entitled 'The Death Zone'. And that's exactly
what it is up there above 8000m, I often
call my live shows 'Into The Death Zone'.
Most of you realise that above 6000m, it
is impossible to be rescued by helicopter
and a human being can only live for a few
days at altitudes above 8000m. It really
is seriously 'out there'. Technologically
no-one can help. Physically too, there are
no rescue teams and, anyway, it would be
too dangerous to mount a protracted rescue.
I do most of the filming on the expeditions
for a 'piece to camera (PTC). I hold the
mini digital video camera at arms length,
or prop it on a rock or use a tripod. It
does increase the weight I have to carry,
but it is worth it to see the finished film.
In 1995, I filmed
on the summit of K2, 'The Savage Mountain'.
A first for a Briton and a most inhospitable
place, dubbed the 'Third Pole', that is
rarely filmed. In fact, I know of only one
other. In 1996, I filmed on the top of Everest
and Gasherbrum. This year, I filmed on the
top of Lhotse which gave fantastic views
down to the South Col, the South-East Ridge
and the summit of Everest. There is plenty
of footage to make the documentaries including
my heli-rescue from Nanga Parbat. Channel
3 North East (Tyne Tees Television) is producing
the films and more footage is being filmed
now of my everyday life, physio treatment,
training, etc, plus my thoughts and feelings
now I'm back in Britain. I'm also planning
my autumn tour, I give a lot of shows and
talks around the country, some of which
are for charity, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
Organising the content of them can take
weeks of work. I have to sort through 1000s
of slides and edit hours of video footage.
I labour over a lightbox to sort the transparencies,
Channel 3 North East help by editing the
video. And I write a script or story which
I use as a general basis for my shows. I
like to try and keep my shows humorous as
well as informative, although sometimes
there are sad moments as well as exciting
incidents and pictures. I'm on the road
so much between shows that sometimes I feel
as though I'm a pro-driver rather than a
A lot of my regular
work is with Berghaus and their marketing
department. So you'll often find me at the
Berghaus offices in Washington, Tyne and
Wear, doing my 'desk-job'! Mind you, writing
my articles is also my desk-job and one
that I enjoy tremendously , I don't do it
for the money (that's hardly surprising!).
I don't find my office work boring. I enjoy
meeting people and it's a refreshing contrast
to being outside in the hills or in the
Himalaya. There are many times, though,
when I've committed
myself to some work and would rather be
out on the hill, just like ordinary five-day-a-week
workers. I know how that frustration feels,
I've been there to some extent. In fact,
I suppose I'm as trapped as the rest of
you. When I'm on my tour, giving slide and
video shows I can't shoot off to the hills.
I have to turn up , even if I'm ill. Ironically,
sometimes when I'm on a big Himalayan mountain,
I yearn for the British hills and it's kind
of like being trapped in an office. Usually,
as I'm trekking out, I get the urge to be
in Yorkshire, The Lakes, Scotland or North
Wales. I daydream of a craggy scramble,
a sun-kissed rock climb, a spectacular ridge
walk or the distinctive, idiosyncratic,
sights and sounds of the British hills.
There is no way, of course, I can fulfil
that desire for days or weeks when I am
so far away. Even an office worker only
has to wait four or five days at the most
until the weekend or you can take a midweek
break or a 'sickie'. Sometimes when I return
from the Himalaya, I go straight out and
refresh myself in the hills. It may be the
Yorkshire Dales with their deep valleys,
drystone walls, bleating sheep and limestone
crags, the North Yorkshire Moors with sandstone
outcrops, or a Lakeland ridge.
The British hills
are my first love, but I also try and be
a dad when I can. Fiona, my 13-year-old
daughter is important to me. Recently, we
went to Guernsey together for fun. I even
do the mundane tasks of driving her to school
sometimes. I enjoy that, although I wouldn't
like to do a 'school run' everyday. Fiona
usually gets the bus, which is more environmentally-friendly.
For the next few
months, I will be concentrating on getting
fit and training in as many ways as possible.
As well as hillwalking and some rock climbing,
I'll be using gyms, swimming, running and
mountain biking. I even did the BUPA Great
North Run, the classic north-east half marathon.
This year, 36,000 entered, so it's hardly
a wilderness experience, but great fun.
I jogged it in two hours rather than run
it for a best time. I bumped into several
climbing and walking acquaintances too,
so it would appear there are quite a few
runners among us Trail readers.
Over the winter,
I will be out in the hills with ice axe
and crampons enjoying that special time
when the hills become a more serious undertaking.
I will also be skiing and really enjoying
the white stuff , if it comes this year.
By March, I hope to be fit and strong enough
to set off for the Himalaya again. I still
intend to climb all 14 8000m peaks and become
the first Briton to do so, and only the
sixth person ever.