In June 2007 I will be joining an expedition to climb Gasherbrum II, situated in the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan. At 8,035m/26,360ft, Gasherbrum II is one of the world’s highest mountains. Together with it’s sister peaks of Gasherbrum I, Broad Peak and the mighty K2, Gasherbrum II is one of the four great 8,000m peaks that stand sentinel in the ‘Throne Room of the Gods’ at the head of the giant Baltoro Glacier. This will be a ‘pure’ ascent without the use of supplementary oxygen.
My aim is to try and raise as much money as possible for Merlin – a specialist UK charity which responds worldwide with vital health care and medical relief for vulnerable people caught up in natural disasters, conflict, disease and health system collapse. Their work is based upon the humanitarian principle that all people, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation, are entitled to lifesaving care and medical assistance.
Merlin played a huge part in the relief effort in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit Pakistan in 2005, and Merlin is continuing to provide health care for around 190,000 people in areas where many buildings, including health facilities were completely destroyed. Through mobile and static clinics, Merlin is now the only aid agency providing health services for people living in and around camps in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
As with all of Merlin’s programs, an important objective is to leave behind lasting improvements to the health system. “The needs here are just as great as ever,” says Merlin’s Country Director in Pakistan. “Merlin is continuing to strengthen health services in areas badly affected by the earthquake. Many agencies have pulled out, leaving a gap in health care services and the possibility of a second humanitarian crisis. Reconstruction of permanent health centres will take time, so thousands of people will be dependent on Merlin’s field clinics and mobile teams for medical care for some time to come”.
Climbing Gasherbrum II will be truly challenging, but with YOUR support I’ll know that with every step my efforts will be making a real difference to the lives of people still desperately in need after this terrible disaster. Merlin would be enormously grateful for anything that you can give to this most deserving cause.