A 52-year-old mountaineer by the name of Vanessa O’Brien came to conquer the high peaks of Pakistan and fell in love with the country and its people. O’Brien in the first British woman to conquer K2 last month and a special ceremony was held in her honor at Pakistan High Commission in London on Tuesday.
O’Brien conquered K2 on July 28 and hoisted the flags of both Pakistan and the United Kingdom on its peak. During the ceremony, she brought the Pakistan flag that was hoisted at K2 and presented it to the High Commissioner Syed Ibne Abbas.
During the ceremony, O’Brien said that the western media had presented a much distorted image of Pakistan and it did not do justice to the real beauty and diversity of the country.
O’Brien became the first British woman to conquer K2 by completing the round-trip journey from the base camp to the summit. Before her, Jonathan Pratt was the first British male to have conquered K2 back in 1993.
During the ceremony, O’Brien shared her challenging journey to the top of the world’s second-tallest peak and her will to succeed. She mentioned how she was especially impressed by the hospitality of the Pakistanis, especially the talented youth.
Addressing Pakistani media in London, she said she loved the people of Pakistan more than its mountains and peaks.
“Pakistanis are really lovely, humble and hospitable. They are friendly and welcoming. I was able to see in Pakistan that Pakistan is not what we see in western media and how Pakistanis are portrayed in a bad light. Western media doesn’t show the reality of Pakistanis and how good they are. It’s my belief that if you want to know and enjoy the real Pakistan, then you must take a trip to the country and not make your impressions about Pakistan through the eyes of western media,” she said, adding that she went to Hunza, Lahore and Karachi and had a great experience.
She recalled that the last leg of her K2 summit adventure was extremely difficult and tiresome and “it took me 16 hours to complete the last part”.
She added: “It was snowing, winds were blowing at 50mph, weather overall was extremely bad. I had to climb up on a certain route and any diversion could have involved greater risks. It was a worthwhile journey and it was a proud moment to hoist British and Pakistani flags at the top. Technically K2 was a more difficult peak than Everest.”
Syed Ibne Abbas congratulated Vanessa on her singular achievement of becoming the first British woman to summit the K2 and said that she would serve as the country’s goodwill ambassador.