Pakistani porters: the unsung masters of the mountains

He is the only man ever to have scaled K2 three times, but Fazal Ali’s achievements have gone largely unrecognized, like those of many of his fellow porters who risk life and limb on Pakistan’s highest peaks.

As one of the few elite porters in the country specialising in high-altitude expeditions, the 40-year-old has spent nearly two decades on Pakistan’s deadliest slopes — plotting routes, lugging kit and cooking for paying clients.

At 8,611 metres (28,251 feet), K2 is not quite as high as Mount Everest, which stands at 8,848 metres. But its technical challenges have earned it the nickname “the Savage Mountain” and dozens have lost their lives on its treacherous, icy flanks.

Ali conquered K2 in 2014, 2017 and 2018 — all without additional oxygen.

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