Karakoram - Climbing Through The Kashmir Conflict

Wednesday April 19th @ 7:30 pm (doors open at 6:30)
The Centennial Theatre
Show proceeds benefit the Climbers' Access Society


World-class alpinist Steve Swenson will present from his new book Karakoram – Climbing Through the Kashmir Conflict. This is a personal story of climbing K2 and other peaks in the Karakoram Range that straddles the borders of China, India, and Pakistan—a story told against the backdrop of extreme altitude and harsh conflict between these nations for control of Kashmir.

Love of climbing mountains has led Swenson to the summits of some of the highest and most dangerous peaks in the world. But over the years, he developed a deep respect for the rugged landscapes and local people of the remote Karakoram Range. Steve will talk about his numerous attempts and successes on these 7000 and 8000-meter peaks, including everything from expedition dynamics among his various climbing partners to the politics of obtaining permits in high security zones, and the logistics of getting there.

Access has long been an issue for foreigner climbers in Kashmir, but since 9/11security has become an even greater concern – especially in the Pakistan administered areas. After the Taliban were defeated in Afghanistan they, along with their al Qaeda supporters, were driven into the mountainous tribal areas in western Pakistan from where they soon launched attacks back over the border to the east and within their new host country.   Western adventurers were largely able to avoid this political violence in Pakistan until June 2013, when a group of terrorists hiked up to the basecamp at Nanga Parbat and murdered 11 climbers. Steve will talk about the origins of this attack and its impact on his travels in the region and on his friends there who depend on income from tourism.

Steve’s presentation about his new book is the story of high-altitude adventures within the context of a complex region, where good people bond and bad people wreak havoc. It’s the story of caring about a place, its people, and its future. He will be available after the show for a book signing. 

More About World-Class Alpinist Steve Swenson

Steve Swenson has been climbing for almost half a century. With nearly twenty expeditions to mountains in South Asia, Steve has made ascents of the North Ridge of K2 and a solo ascent of the North Ridge of Everest - both without supplementary oxygen. He and his teammates were awarded the prestigious Piolet d'Or for their ascent of Saser Kangri II (7,518 meters) in 2012; it was the second-highest unclimbed mountain in the world at the time. Before his recent retirement, Steve worked for thirty-five years as a consultant to municipalities and countries on engineering, design, project management, utility finance, and policy-making projects related to water and sanitation. A past president for the American Alpine Club, Steve has written articles for Climbing, Rock and Ice, and Alpinist magazines as well as the American Alpine Journal; he also contributed to Rock, Paper, Fire, an anthology of mountain and wilderness writing. Steve, who has two grown sons, Lars and Jed, lives with his wife, Ann Dalton, in Seattle. He is donating his royalties from Karakoram to The Mountaineers.