islamabad - The eight-member French and Pakistan joint expedition will leave for Gilgit-Baltistan today (Friday) to scale down 8.035 meter Gasherbrum-II.

Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) president Col (R) Manzoor, flanked by Dr Philippe Arvis and Dr Christophe, Pakistan’s pride climber Hassan Jan, announced this during a press briefing held here Thursday.

Col Manzoor said: “This is the very first expedition of summer and around 35 applications had been received so far, while we are expecting the number would raise in coming days. We can’t send Pakistani expeditions alone due to tight financial restraints, as government doesn’t support us much, that’s why we had to depend on foreigners, while we accommodate maximum locals as well. The foreigners has the advantage that their fee cut downs to half, while our climbers get the much-needed exposure.”

When asked how much Pakistani climbers get paid for the expedition, he replied: “It depends, as Hassan Jan is a great man and doesn’t take a single penny and majority of other climbers also don’t charge and join expeditions purely for personal satisfaction not for earning, while we try to give something to climbers in our limited resources.”

When asked about development on tall claims being made by the former PTDC Managing Director regarding Pakistani climbers’ safety and other benefits, Col replied: “Nothing on ground has been done. The former MD had completed his tenure and for a last few months, the PTDC is being run without MD. As soon as new MD joins, we will meet him and try to get the orders implemented.”

He said Pakistan was heaven for foreign expeditions and they had a very high number of foreign missions, who apply to scale down different mountains including Nanga Parbat and K-2. “In 2007, 120 foreign teams arrived for different expeditions, but due to unfortunate incident in 2013, the situation was very bleak, which did improve last year when 35 expeditions arrived in Pakistan. We are expecting the number would certainly rise this year.”

French team leader Philippe Arvis said: “Pakistanis are very friendly and I am very happy to come to Pakistan. I wanted to come to Pakistan to climb down the best mountains of the world, this region possesses.”

Dr Christophe said: “Pakistan is the heaven on earth and I want to tell the west that it is not Nepal, but in fact it is Pakistan, which has the world’s best and outstanding mountains. No one can realise the importance of Pakistan, until and unless they come and visit this country.”

Hassan Jan thanked the ACP for taking good care of climbers and hoped the expedition would be a huge success, just like all his past expeditions.  About security arrangements, Col said: “I am satisfied with the security being provided to the foreign expeditions. Our armed forces with their sacrifices had managed to improve the security to great extent and I hope everything would be fine. We will host a crowded press conference upon their successful return,” he concluded.