GB’s legendary mountaineer Little Karim passes away

ISLAMABAD: After fighting liver disease for year, world famous legendary mountaineer Muhammad Karim breathed his last at the Combined Military Hospital in Rawalpindi on Monday. He was 72 and under treatment at the army hospital for the past two months.

After renowned mountaineers like Hassan Sadpara and Ali Sadpara, Pakistan lost another world famous mountaineer and climbing expert Abdul Karim, known as “Little Karim” who passed away in Rawalpindi.

The funeral prayer of Karim was offered at Sofia Masjid in Rawalpindi on Monday.

Karim, who hailed from the Hushe valley of Ghanche district of Gilgit Baltistan, was suffering from a liver disease but, as per doctors, due to his age, a transplant could not be possible. He holds the world record for climbing the 8,035 meters high Gasherbrum 2, without supplementary oxygen.

Abdul Karim was known as “Little Karim”, a name given to him by the leader of a French expedition in 1979. In 1985, French documentary maker Laurent Chevallier shot a documentary based on Karim. In 1997, the same filmmaker shot another documentary based on the mountaineering legend, this time titled ‘Mister Karim’.

As per reports, initially he was rejected as porter by a team by looking at his stature that he would not be able to carry 25 Kg of weight up to the base camp of K-2. Though he was in his teens, he looked like a 10 year old boy due to his appearance.

A Swiss team ran out of porters and took him along. In the same trip he managed to summit a 7000 meter peak. The Spanish team wrote a book about the life of little Karim and also made a film in 2000 the film was seen on the big screen in Spanish Cinema.

According to a report Karim also made a name for himself when he climbed the 8,035 meter-high Gasherbrum 2 without supplementary oxygen and set a world record in the process.”

In February, pictures of an ailing Little Karim started making rounds on social media, further highlighting the plight of the heroes of the country. The late mountaineer’s son also spoke about the family’s hardship in a video message, while announcing that they will auction an original Real Madrid football jersey, gifted to Little Karim by Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, just to meet medical expenses.

Karim was an avid Ronaldo fan and was able to meet the football star during a visit to Spain in 2018.

“My name is Muhammad Hanif. I am the son of the international hero ‘Little Karim’. My father is ill. Around Rs10,000-12,000 is spent monthly on my father’s medicines. I have not been earning any remuneration for the last two years,” he had said. Sharing his father’s wish for setting up a climbing school, Hanif said that he has sold his native house to buy the equipment for the school. He added that the family has no home to live in the village.

The video was shared by many people, including journalists based in GB.

Gilgit Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid Khan on February 1, 2022 announced that the provincial government would bear all the expenses of Little Karim’s treatment and employment would also be arranged for his children. He was later airlifted from Skardu and admitted at CMH Rawalpindi for treatment.

Soon after the news about his death early on Monday tributes started to pour in for the late mountaineer. Governor and Chief Minister GB and other political figures in their messages, termed the death of Karim as big loss to the tourism industry and GB

Netherlands Ambassador to Pakistan Wouter Plomp prayed for Little Karim. Another user termed it a “great loss to the nation.”

As per reports Little Karim was born in the remote village of Hushe in the lush green valley of Ganche in Baltistan region.

Ghulam Abbas
Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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