ISLANABAD - A group of mountaineers and mountain hikers have returned to Saidu Sharif after completing survey for Phase 2 of Swat Project.

The mountaineers and hikers took part in exploration of a number of challenging and partially unexplored itineraries in the hilly, fascinating region of Swat Kohistan during this survey.

The surveys were organised by the Asian Desk of the International Non-Governmental Organisation Mountain Wilderness International from Biella (Italy), as Phase 2 of the Swat Project, the final goal of which will be an extensive study in view of the creation of a National Park in that wonderful and fragile mountain area.

Led by Italian Professor Carlo Alberto Pinelli, (Sitara-e-Imtiaz), Honorary President of Mountain Wilderness, 12 expert hikers and mountaineers, coming from Italy and Germany, accomplished successfully their demanding task with the help of six local guides. They were trained last year by the Mountain Wilderness first course of Environment-Friendly Mountaineering, held on site along the glacier of Falak Sar peak.

A second highly motivated group of hikers is scheduled to travel to the mountains of upper Swat during summer 2020 to carry out further explorations which will be instrumental in finalising the project.

This will be Phase 3, which will include publishing of a reliable handbook, in English and Urdu, describing main trekking and climbing itineraries of that precious region and suggesting how to defend those landscapes against the increasing waves of uneducated tourism unrespectful of the environment and of its natural beauty.

At the same time Mountain Wilderness has organised a light climbing expedition aimed at summiting Thalo Zom, the last unclimbed peak of 6000 meters, towering over the Swat-Chitral border.

The challenging final pyramid of Thalo Zom was summited on the 26th of August by two Italian mountaineering instructors, a Catalan climber and 3 young local mountaineers previously trained by the Asian Desk of the Association together with the Pakistani chapter of Mountain Wilderness. A separate Catalan roped party reached the summit of Thalo Zom a few days later, said a news release.

Mountain Wilderness International and ISMEO are happy and proud to announce the very positive accomplishment of Phase 2 and are confident that the coming Phase 3 will be even more successful, says the news release.

Italian Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo, in congratulating Professor Pinelli, his team and Mountain Wilderness for the success and the excellent ongoing work, underlined that “this is yet another concrete sign of the Italian dedication and commitment to working in Pakistan in areas in which Italian expertise can make a difference.”