Beneath the waving flag is Pakistan’s hero – Ali Sadpara
By Elia Saikaly
Elia Saikaly is an award-winning filmmaker and global adventurer, born in Ottawa, Canada. He began his film and television career working as video-journalist turned actor, director of photography, director and producer. Below is his write up about the mission in which he joined Sajid Sadpara, son of Pakistan’s iconic climber Ali Sadapara, to rescue body of his father and others from K-2.
It took losing my own father to a brutal car crash on July 25th, 2018 and traveling extraordinary lengths to find answers leading up to his death, crossing the blurred unwritten lines between (in)sanity and love to understand (and support) just how far a young man would go to bury his father, remove him from the pathway where all could see and honor his name and memory according to Islamic tradition.
I am still processing what happened high up on K2. Sajid was unstoppable, fueled by a determination only a son can have for his fallen and missing father.
We were in the death zone for two days, on the mountain for five, let down by both of our high altitude porters and forced to carry their responsibility on our backs. To say it was intense would be a disservice to the experience and the sheer power of the King of all mountains. K2 was kind to us, very kind. And we are humbled and grateful.
This was Sajid’s journey and PK and I were passengers on his sacred mission. Adapting to his every emotion and move, reaction and action was the strategy. The strength, bravery, courage and commitment to his father was one of the powerful forces I’ve ever witnessed. He is his fathers son.
Sajid covered up Juan Pablo with snow and brought some of his belongings home for his family. He then buried his father Ali Sadpara and performed a burial ritual outside of camp 4. He also searched our dear friend John Snorri’s lifeless body for clues and evidence of a winter ascent. I hung by my ascender on a 75 degree slope of blue ice and recorded that moment, and all others, as our parallel mission was to honor our missing friends by finishing what we started in winter. We retraced their footsteps, found answers, many which are devastatingly heartbreaking, and we continue to gain insight into exactly what happened.
Lead with your heart, not your ego. One can never go wrong.
The soul of the son of Pakistan’s Snow Leopard can finally rest. As can mine. Finally. The mystery continues to unravel.