Picture of Kelsang Namtso's body taken by Pavle Kozjek (Inset)
Dharamshala October 1- Slovenian climber Pavle Kozjek, who provided the first iconic images of the killing of 17-year old Tibetan nun Kelsang Namtso by Chinese border guards on the Nangpala Pass two years ago on September 30 had died August 25 during an ascent in the Karakoram. Kozjek, 49, died after falling 2000 meters during an ascent of the treacherous 7273-metre Mustagh Tower (Ice Tower) in Pakistan. Kozjek and fellow Slovenian Dejan Miskovic climbed the northeast wall of the 'Ice Tower' in the Karakoram Range on August 24 but decided not to go to the summit because of strong winds. Just after they started descending, Kozjek slipped to his death. Miskovic was later rescued by a helicopter.
On the second anniversary of the Nangpala killings, Washington D.C. based International Campaign for Tibet yesterday paid tribute to Kozjek, a mountaineer for 20 years who was acclaimed for his courage. “He was the first climber to answer the call for images to provide visual evidence of a group of Tibetans being fired upon by Chinese border guards as they attempted to escape into exile in Nepal across the Nangpa Pass, the main trading route between Tibet and Nepal which is commonly used as an escape route by Tibetans fleeing into exile,” ICT said on its website.
Pavle Kozjek contacted the adventure web portal (mounteverest.net) following their appeal for climbers to come forward with images of the shooting, and was later acquired by the ICT.
The image that flashed across television screens worldwide and was passed on to governments concerned about the case depicts a body lying in the snow, which was later identified as Kelsang Namtso, 17-year old nun from Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) prefecture in central Tibet. Romanian climber and cameraman Sergiu Matei, also on Cho Oyu at the time, filmed the shooting and told ICT that after she was shot.
Tina Sjogren from ExplorersWeb, who published Kozjek's images of Kelsang Namtso dead in the snow, said, "Pavle is a great loss to the climbing community. For his solo, express new route on Cho Oyu, Pavle Kozjek was chosen as the best climber of the year by the crowds attending the Piolet d'Or [The Golden Ice Axe, an annual mountaineering award]. But the climb was only one part of his popularity: Where most climbers whisper about the fate of Tibet, few will risk their permits to speak up. Pavle did so."
While Tibetan refugees escaping from Tibet into Nepal have been fired upon before on both the Chinese and Nepalese sides of the border, the September 30 killing on Nangpa La was the first incident captured on tape, and drew international attention.
Kozjek was born in the small village of Setnica, close to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and began climbing in the Slovenian Alps as a teenager. His first Himalayan expedition was Gangapurna in 1983, and in 1997 he became the first Slovenian to climb up Mount Everest without the aid of bottled oxygen.
Bostjan Videmsek, a close friend of Kozjek, called him one of the ‘biggest, strongest, smartest and most ethical people I've ever met and also my climbing mentor.’phayul bureau report