International mountaineers’ plans to travel to Gilgit-Baltistan this winter and attempt to climb some of the highest mountains in the world were severely derailed by mounting political unpredictability and visa bottlenecks; as a result, not a single foreign mountain expedition has arrived this season.
An additional insult was the high cost of permits and travel advisories issued by Saudi Arabia, Australia, and the United States to their nationals about visiting Pakistan.
No foreign expedition or hiking group has received a permit this winter adventure season, which typically lasts from November to February, according to the GB tourist department. No adventure group is anticipated because they typically need at least two months to prepare for trips and the fact that the season is scheduled to expire in a little over a month.
Only two foreign expedition groups requested visas to climb Nanga Parbat this winter, but they were forced to postpone their plans due to visa difficulties.
This is in sharp contrast to prior years when hundreds of foreign mountaineers visited Pakistan in the winter to make ascent attempts on difficult mountains like K2 and Nanga Parbat.
Furthermore, more than 1,600 international climbers visited the United Kingdom for the first time last summer.
According to Karar Haidri, secretary of the Pakistani Alpine Club, the main cause of the fall was the country’s ongoing political unrest, which caused many adventure travelers to postpone their travel plans to the area.
However, Asghar Ali Porik, a travel operator from the UK, claimed that the visa policy was to blame, as it caused delays in visa issuance.
“Once a trekker or mountaineer has applied, there is no deadline for the issuance of a visa. Foreign adventure travelers were unable to adjust their plans, he claimed.
Another cause, according to Mr. Porik, who organized numerous international adventure groups to K2 and other summits last winter, was a 40% increase in permit royalty payments starting this year.
When contacted, a representative of the GB tourism department concurred that the visa requirements and political uncertainty were to blame for the fall in travelers seeking adventure in Pakistan.