RAWALPINDI -  Pakistan's mountaineering hero Hassan Sadpara died of cancer yesterday. He is survived by three sons and a daughter.

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Sadpara was the first Pakistani to scale all the eight-thousanders which tower above 8,000 metres (26,247 feet) - among the 14 highest mountains on the planet.

He had climbed K2, the world's second highest mountain but considered a more challenging climb than the highest Mount Everest in Nepal. Sadpara, who was born Hassan Asad on April 3, 1963, came from a small village near the town of Skardu in the mountainous Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan's north.

He began his mountaineering career in 1999 when he conquered Nanga Parbat, also known as the "Killer Mountain".

Sadpara conquered Everest (8848m), K2 (8611m), Gasherbrum-I (8080m), Gasherbrum-II (8034m), Nanga Parbat (8126 m) and Broad Peak (8051m).

But his fame did not bring him fortune, with his family urging the government to help finance his cancer treatment as they began to run out of money.

He was diagnosed with blood cancer on October 8, 2016. After a short stay at a private hospital in Rawalpindi, he was shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) for treatment.

His son Arif said his father died around noon in the garrison city of Rawalpindi next to the capital Islamabad.

On Sunday – a day before his death – Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif gave his son Rs2.5 million as financial assistance. In June last year, he got Rs5 million cheque by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in recognition of his services for the promotion of mountaineering in the country.  His fans took to the social media to pay tribute to the hero. "The man for whom no mountain was high enough! #RIP #Hassan Sadpara, legendary mountaineer!" tweeted Faran Rafi, just one of many such messages.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke of the country's pride in Sadpara. "Late Hasan Sadpara's dedication and self-confidence enabled him to climb highest peaks of the world,” the PM said in a statement.  “The entire nation is proud of his outstanding performance; his endeavours for winning laurels for the country will always be remembered in golden words,” Nawaz said.

“PM Nawaz prayed to Almighty Allah to bless the departed soul with eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss with fortitude,” the statement added.

Noted politicians also expressed their sorrow over the sad demise and paid tribute to the legend.

President Mamnoon Hussain, National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb shared the grief with the bereaved family in their statements.

Died at 53, Sadpara started his career as a high altitude porter and owned a small shop of used mountaineering equipment in Skardu. He had dreamt of opening a mountaineering school in Skardu to promote the sports.