.
.
.
.

Video: Pakistan rock climbers scale new heights

The country's mountainous north has long been a magnet for climbers from all over the world.

Published: Updated:

A dozen young men and women stand before a rock face on the outskirts of Islamabad, challenging and cheering each other on as they take turns scrambling up the limestone in front of curious onlookers.

The country's mountainous north has long been a magnet for climbers from all over the world.

But very few locals showed interest in the sport - until now.

When Nazir Ahmed opened his climbing club four years ago in the capital, Islamabad, it had 20 members. Today, there are 500.

Nazir Ahmed, the Eco Adventure Club member, said "People are attracted to climbing because they are active on social media, they see it on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and get impressed. It's a good sign."

Nazir is from the northern Gilgit-Baltistan region, where three of the world's greatest mountain ranges collide - the Karakoram, the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas.

There, mountain climbing is the locals' genes, but they are often limited to working as low-paid porters on foreign expeditions.

One climber though, made a name for herself, after scaling Mount Everest.

Sania Aziz, a student said “I am very much inspired by Samina Baig. When a girl from a far-flung area like Gilgit becomes the first Pakistani female to scale Mount Everest that's a big deal.

In this conservative Muslim country, climbing has become one of the rare sports in which both genders can take part together. Even off the peaks.

After building Islamabad's first climbing wall, Jamshed Khan opened one here in Lahore three years ago.

Since then, around 20 similar clubs have appeared up and down the country.

For the first time, climbing will be an Olympic sport in the next Games in Tokyo.

Pakistan's top climbers have their work cut out for them, if they want to head to Japan to represent their country.