Tuesday, August 6, 2013

First Ascent of K6 West (Approx 7100m) and Climbing Activities in Charakusa Valley

First Ascent of K6 West (Approx 7100m)
The Charakusa Valley in Karakoram is consideredan alpine-climbing candy store” with several rock walls and technical mixed faces packed within a few miles radius. Although, valley attracts several elite climbers every year, some challenges are yet to be surpassed. This year on July 28th, two Canadians, Rafał Sławiński and Ian Welsted, successfully climbed one of the unclimbed peaks, K6 West (Approx 7000-7100m), whereas Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman have just arrived in the valley a week ago.

On 23rd June, Ian Welsted and Rafał Sławiński along with American Jesse Huey were on the way to Skardu when the Karakoram Highway closure due to Nanga Parbat Massacre forced them to turn back. Consequently, Huey decided to quit the expedition, but Rafał and Ian moved forward with the plan. By the end of June, they were at Base Camp. It’s reported that a Japanese expedition was also present in the vale, aiming to climb K6 and Kapura Peaks.

While further details about the acclimatization and climb are not available as of now, it’s confirmed that the Canadian duo achieved first ascent of K6 West (Approx 7000-7100m) in K6 massif, via NW Face (estimated route of ascent is shown in image below - Photo: Rafal Slawinski, Topo: Janusz Kurczab). The K6 main peak (7278m) was first ascended by an Austrian team in 1971. In 2007, Marko Prezelj, Steve House and Vince Anderson had to abort their K6 West  attempt without success, due to excessive snow and bad weather.

Update: Full report of ascent appears here.

Expected route of K6 West ascent. Photo: Rafal Slawinski, Topo: Janusz Kurczab,

British Team on Link Sar (Approx 7041m)
British climbers Andrew Houseman and Jonathan Griffith flew to Islamabad on 24th July, aiming to climb Link Sar and/or K6 (west). “I'll be completely honest that I was loosing motivation for it in the last couple of weeks. The terrible terrorist attack on Nanga Parbet base camp put a lot of doubt on the trip and in my head. Luckily we had time to make a sensible rather than rushed decision and it has taken time and a lot of chatting through with family and loved ones as well as friends with a lot of experience of the area for me to get it clear in my head that I still wanted to go”, wrote Andy Houseman before leaving for Pakistan.

Jon and Andy straightaway flew to Skardu from Islamabad and swiftly moved to the Charakusa valley. They reached the Base Camp on July 29th. Apparently, the duo will now concentrate on Link Sar than K6 West, the latter being already climbed by Canadians. Andy says, “K6 West had been one of our objectives but the two lines we had in mind are, on closer inspection just too threatened from seracs this year for either Jon or myself to consider them. The only relatively safe line up the face is the line the Canadians took so we are going to concentrate on getting acclimatized for Link Sar, but you never know things can change in the mountains quite fast.

Andy further wrote that their plans of acclimatization on Sulu Peak (Approx 6000m) were thwarted by rain and bad weather. They haven’t been able to go above 4900m, so far.

Link Sar (7041m); Source
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