American Photographer Captures the Spirit of Pakistan Army in Siachen

Cory Richards is an adventure photographer for the National Geographic channel. Viewers tune in to his program to hear how Cory has flirted with danger and excitement as he goes on some of the most dangerous places on Earth, documenting his experiences in vivid detail.

Recently he decided to travel to the Siachen Glacier for an assignment. The Siachen Glacier is considered the highest-ever battlefield in modern times, where Pakistani and Indian soldiers periodically face off. Siachen features some of the most harshest temperatures on Earth, with the mercury hitting as low as -40 °C some days.

Here’s what happened during the rather tough yet rewarding assignment for this one American adventure photographer.

Cory Richard Travels to Siachen

On his visit to Pakistan in 2010-2011, Cory climbed Gasherbrum-II, an 8,000 metre peak on the Pakistan-India border at the Siachen glacier.

India-Pakistan border at Siachen

He managed to get to the top safely and even snapped a photo at the peak but it didn’t go so well on the way down.

Gasherbrum-II peak

“As it started to snow more and more, I heard a crack above me, and then what sounded like a freight train. I yelled ‘Avalanche!’ but you can imagine what it was like trying to run in snow halfway up our thighs,” recounts Cory.

Cory Richards, moments after surviving the avalanche

The avalanche left him mentally scarred but otherwise all in one piece. Not everything went bad on his trip to Pakistan however.

Cory recounts making friends with Pakistan Army at the Gasherbrum-II base camp. He describes how he originally intended to take pictures for the sake of a story for National Geographic. When he met the Pakistani soldiers, he recalls how they wanted to use internet (which Cory and his team had) for watching movies and checking Facebook. They instantly hit it off from there.

Cory observed how most of the soldiers posted there were as young as 18-24 years old.

Pak Army at Gasherbrum-II base camp

“I now have hundreds of friends named Mohammed, Farouk, and Ahmed, and I’m on the TSA watch list…but it’s okay, it happens.”

Pak Army Troops at Cory’s camp

Cory also saw some of the challenges that these soldiers faced up in Siachen. For instance, he found out quickly that drying your clothes on a clothesline in winter is not that simple. The soldiers at Siachen have to manage that at -40 degrees Celsius!

Here’s a picture that Cory took of a Pakistani soldier with his fabulous purple tracksuit:

Its things like this that make you instantly relatable to someone. Even though Cory had a different impression of Pakistan and the border tensions with India before visiting Siachen, the whole assignment and experience changed his point of view.

A soldier’s foot frozen in the ice at Siachen

At the same time it reminds us that these brave guys patrolling the border, keeping our country safe could be someone’s son, someone’s nephew or grandson. Their struggle is something we should not forget about. We should always keep in mind the sacrifices made by our soldiers, the lengths they go to. It should serve as a reminder that they are just as human as we are with families waiting for them back home.

Mr. Cory has done a remarkable job capturing the life of a Pakistani soldier in Siachen. If you’re interested, you can check out Mr. Cory’s complete Nat Geo documentary here:

A techie, Overwatch and Street Fighter enthusiast, and Sub Editor at ProPakistani.


  • my salute to brave who protect us, day or night

    • Muhammad Ali Abdullah Sherkoh

      haan behi , hum log army key baghir kuch bhi nehi

  • M Waseem Akhtar

    The Kashmir dispute needs to be resolved now. Since both countries are armed with nukes therefore there is no armed solution. Why don’t both countries declare LOC as international border and live peacefully.
    Before posting negative comments about my suggestion please share yours (if any).

    • Taha Najam

      That would mean forsaking our brothers in Indian Occupied Kashmir who identify themselves as Pakistanis at the mercy of the tyrant Indian government, and disregarding all the sacrifices made by people like Burhan Wali, not to mention countless of our own soldiers.

      • M Waseem Akhtar

        We have already left millions in India who recognize themselves as Muslims.
        And half of us (Bengali Muslims) have already left us and hate us more than Hindus.

        • Taha Najam

          Those Muslims weren’t left behind, they just chose to call India their home. Bengalis also chose to call Bangladesh their home, as was their right. But Kashmiris have always chosen Pakistan since the day of partition. Yet India denies them that right and subjugates them using force. It’s our duty to heed the call of our fellow countrymen.

          • M Waseem Akhtar

            But how to heed the call. Any workable suggestion?

          • Sharmeen Aziz

            Come out of this fairy tale, Kashmiris want a separate country. They are with us because we support their cause. Moreover we support their cause just for the water resource. Bangladesh didnot leave us we forced them. How come the people who fought together for a separate country are not on talking terms and one nations believes other to be a traitor.

    • The only solution is plebiscite, as mandated by the UN. Let the people decide their fate. Drawing arbitrary lines in the sand is an invariably British thing to do. And half the world is suffering because of that.

      • M Waseem Akhtar

        Plz read UN resolution. It states that Pakistan must withdraw forces from Kashmir (Azad and Gilgit Baltistan), then India will held plebiscite. The same was not accepted by Pakistan and India.

    • Sameer Yasir

      hmm

  • Geo PAK ARMY
    Geo Pakistan :

  • That’s a Beauty of Safe Pakistan

  • Oralover Odeveloper

    many of our brave soldiers lose their different body parts during duty at Siachen but they wish and want to go back there to protect Pakistan and Pakistanis means we all … May ALLAH shower his blessings each and every moment on them – Aameen

    • Sharmeen Aziz

      It would be a lot better for both countries to bring their forces back from Siachen, cost will cut, lives will be saved and who knows one day we might live peacefully.

  • Khalid.Naeemuddin

    I celebrated my 40th birthday , Goma at Siachen in 1993.