Shaikh Hassan Khan, a thirty-six-year-old government employee from Kerala, has achieved a remarkable feat by conquering Alaska’s Mount Denali. Known for his determination and impressive mountaineering record, which includes successfully climbing Mount Everest and Kilimanjaro, Khan embarked on a mission to scale the tallest peaks in 185 countries within a five-year timeframe. Mount Denali served as the first target on his ambitious list. On June 7, braving perilous conditions, Khan accomplished this remarkable feat, even risking his own life in the process.
Reflecting on his accomplishment, Khan shared his observations about Denali’s beauty, noting that while it is a magnificent mountain, Everest still stands as a mighty force. In a phone conversation with IANS from Denver, Khan remarked, “Climbing Denali is more challenging than scaling Mount Everest. Those who conquer Denali can truly be called mountaineers.” Recounting the climb, he described the arduous journey that commenced at midnight on June 6 in Denali Mountain, situated within the Alaskan ranges, a mere 200 miles from the North Pole. Taking advantage of a small weather window for the summit, Khan emphasized the unpredictability of Denali’s weather, which he described as the worst it had been in the past decade.
Accompanied by his partner Subir Bakshi, Khan decided to skip Camp 5 and proceed directly toward the summit. Tied together with a rope, they encountered increasingly strong winds as they reached the 18,000-foot mark. By the time they approached 19,000 feet, wind speeds ranged from 30 to 45 miles per hour. Negotiating the treacherous ridges of the mountain, they often found themselves at the mercy of powerful gusts that threatened to sweep them away. Despite other guided groups retreating to Camp 5, Khan and Bakshi pressed on. The frigid wind chill caused temperatures to plummet to -60 degrees Fahrenheit (-51 degrees Celsius), with poor visibility due to heavy cloud cover. Nevertheless, they persisted and successfully summited North America’s highest peak at 12:30 am on June 7, narrowly achieving their goal.
However, Khan described the descent as even more harrowing. Unable to descend via the fixed lines at 16,000 feet due to violent winds carrying snow, they were forced to remain there for approximately eight hours in -40-degree Celsius temperatures. During this time, Khan’s companion suffered frostbite, and the extreme cold penetrated their summit suits, pushing them to the brink of danger. Their radio’s battery had died, and there was no sign of other climbers ascending or descending. Eventually, they were rescued, reflecting on the experience as a chilling brush with the possibility of losing their lives.
When asked about his upcoming adventures, Khan revealed that he plans to travel to Russia in July and Japan in August. For 2023, his goal is to conquer 15 peaks across various countries. Khan acknowledged the need for sponsorship to fund his expeditions to Russia and Japan, estimating a cost of Rs five lakh.
Khan is scheduled to arrive in Delhi on June 21, marking the continuation of his extraordinary journey.