Written by Muhammad Khalil Dar
Few could stretch their imagination in 2017 that a man who had submitted himself for the seemingly inevitable at an altitude famed as Death Zone for no mean reason, would not only survive the ordeal for 4 nights without oxygen but would be setting his eyes on Nanga Parbat within 5 years. Many who just happened to know Lt Col Dr Jabbar Bhatti (R) were aware that in 2017 he ended up losing his fingers on both hands are now astonished after knowing his plans for summer of 2023. He along with his team of four Pakistani climbers are all set to climb one of the most daunting mountains in the world i.e Nanga Parbat, this summer. Also known as killer mountain it ranks 9th in altitude i.e 8610 meters or 26600 feet. To put it in perspective it’s like stacking 3 kilometers of height above Khunjrab Top. Temperature can drop to – 40 C and wind can blow at a speeds above 300 kph. With a death probability of 21% it continues to claim its place in the top 5 most dangerous mountains in the world. Till now 85 of the climbers have died while climbing it.
His batchmates from Faisalabad Medical College remember him nurturing his urge to climb mountains but not at the expense of his education. He surprised his fellow batchmates in 1981, when he as a final year student opted for two week climbing course through Alpine Club of Pakistan, yet ended up achieving The Best Graduate Award in MBBS. Next few years were to define his future. In 1982 he joined Pakistan Army and in 1983 he attended a climbing course in celebrated French National School of Mountaineering (ENSA). In 1984 came a Gods act, when all of a sudden, he ended up filling a vacant slot of a military liaison officer with an expedition. This very expedition, Gashabrum 1 & 2, was being led by the worlds renowned Reinhold Andreas Messner. After having been baptized by nobody less than Messner he achieved his first climb of 8000 meter in 1985, when he climbed Broad Peak 8050 Meters and emerged as achieving the unthinkable. In mountaineering world he surprised everyone by scaling his first 8000 meters peak in alpine style i.e with no help of porters and advance dumping of supplies. And in Pakistan he became the youngest Pakistani to do climb an 8000 meters peak. Pakistan Government acknowledged that by granting him President’s Award for Pride of Performance. Meanwhile, he volunteered to join Special Services Group and also mastered the art of Paragliding. From there on his life alternated between mountain climbing in military expeditions, service with SSG, serving in AMC as Doctor and perfecting in all disciplines of Gliding. He honorably retired from Army in 2007 as Lieutenant Colonel. He has two children and lives in Rawalpindi.
In 2017, ordinarily his life as a mountaineer should have ended, especially with his impaired hands. He surprised many except who know him intimately when he self-assumed the challenge of climbing the Seven Summits on seven continents. Taking Mount Everest the very first one in Asia, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania in Africa in 2019 and Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, South America in 2020. While Mount Elbruz in Europe, Mount Denali in Alaska, North America and Mount Vinson in Antarctica are on his list. In parallel he organized two high altitude ultra marathons in Gilgit Baltistan. He ran for 500 kms in eight days started from Khunjrab Pass in frigid month of December in 2020. He ran for 65 kms in one go starting from the highest point on Deosai Plains in October 2021.
Many who know Lt Col Dr Jabbar Bhatti intimately remember him as a man who was tested to his ultimate limits not in 2017 at Mount Everest but in September 2003, when he lost his two young daughters and one infant kid in the depths of Terbela Lake. He accepted the tragedy as Gods will and helped his wife and surviving boy of seven years to rise up and live the life to the fullest. We now find him the age of 64 with his eyes focused to scale the most daunting Nanga Parbat. Constitution of team and gathering of essential gear has been completed and Pakistan Expedition Nanga Parbat 2023 is all set to be established at the Base Camp by 1st Week June. God willingly should he descends down the steep snowy slopes of mighty Nanga Parbat successfully he would be the senior most Pakistani crowing the peak of Nanga Parbat. We wish the team, which includes famous names of Pakistan like Doctor Naveed, Asif Bhatti, Farhan Pasha and Saad the very best of luck and pray to Almighty God for the safe returns of the complete team and the support staff enabling them achieve what few can even dreamt off.