We arrived in Skardu on Saturday morning, and for some unknown reason the pictures went through to the blog, but none of the text.
The really BIG NEWS is that we are now SPONSORED by WARID TELECOM AND BANK ALFALAH!!!! I cannot begin to express enough thanks to Shahzad Rauf, who is a my friend as well as my sisters, for his untiring efforts to help us make this happen. We are incredibly excited to have them as part of our team, and we are going to post their Logo's and Banners just about everywhere we go. We did a photo shoot before we left Islamabad and you can see the Team Picture with the ZEM logo on it, which is a product of Warid Telecom. Zem is Warid Telecom's prepaid cell phone product, that we have been fortunate enough to be able to use while in Pakistan. I know I have been able to make calls all over the world with it at an amazingly low cost.
Shahzad has been a tremendous host, putting us up in an incredible place in Islamabad. We had amazing meals, excellent service, and beautiful surroundings. He has made our arrival into Pakistan a truly remarkable experience and we have received so much help in securing our last minute items in Pakistan from Shahzad and his staff. You can see the back of the house in one of the photo's from below. It resembles an English Manor house with the groomed lawn which made a perfect place to set up the tents to check them out. The tents will be our home far longer then guest house. It is a great study in contrast.
I think that good spirit has helped us on our journey and made our transition into Skardu truly effortless. We made our flight on the first attempt, which saved us a bone jarring 33 hour drive. Instead we had a flight that was 45 minutes that allowed us to get great views of the Karakoram. In fact, the pilot even let us into the cockpit so that we could take pictures of the range. You can see one of those photo's below.
Our gear will be arriving today, after the 33 hour drive, and this afternoon we will be sorting it all out into 25kg porter loads. It is interesting to reflect on the journey that it has taken as well, and where it will go. So much of the gear consists of the things that are necessary for us to survive us we go higher, and some of it is purely for comfort. I can remember going through my list 5-6 times to make sure that I had enough food, clothing, and climbing equipment, and yet you still remember items that you would like to have with you. I purchased an umbrella for the trek in to help provide shade on sunny days, and protection from the rain. The amount of electronic equipment is a bit overwhelming with the team having several satellite phones, camera's, computers, and solar panels. All so that we can provide updates to those who are following us at home.
But in the end we are here to climb a mountain for ourselves first. It is the challenge and simplicity of the mountain life that I am looking forward to although the luxuries that we have enjoyed up to this point have been wonderful.
I want to finish by again saying thank you to Warid Telecom and Bank Alfalah for their support of our climb. I think it is a truly unique situation with two Pakistan companies providing sponsorship to an international team of climbers, to climb the highest point within their country. All of the people we have met have been warm, inviting, and gracious. It is an amazing country to visit and one I would recommend to anyone.