Gasherbrum IV: Details of Aleš Česen and Luka Lindič’s Ascent to North Summit (ca 7900m)

“Sons of Tomo Cesen storm Karakoram” was the title of Alpinist Magazine’s report about Ales and Nejc Cesen’s first Karakoram expedition in 2006. Together with a group of Slovenian climbers, the duo climbed multiple technical routes in Trango Tower region. This year, Ales Cesen returned to Karakoram with a ‘bigger’ objective. Together with Luka Lindic, he intended to climb Gasherbrum IV’s fabled west face a.k.a. the Shining Wall. By the end of the season, Ales Cesen and Luka Lindic had summited Broad Peak - the only ascent of the mountain this season - and climbed G IV’s Northwest Ridge till North Summit (7900m).

Base Camp
Ales and Luka’s plan was to climb Broad Peak for acclimatization before attempting G IV. On June 25th, they established their Base Camp for the season on West Gasherbrum Glacier - couple of hours away from traditional Broad Peak BC on Godwin-Austen Glacier. After organizing the camp, they set out towards G IV’s west face for first round of acclimatization.

The duo spent a night at 5500m on glacier plateau and climbed 200m further next day, before returning to BC as weather remained unstable. “Not very comfortable, but it was very exciting to spend the night in such a crazy ambience of a wall, rightly nicked 'The Shining wall',” commented Ales Cesen.

Acclimatization on Broad Peak
Apart from its technical challenges and sheer slopes, Gasherbrum IV is high - 7925 meters - slightly shy of an eight-thousander. Ales and Luka, thus needed fair amount of acclimatization before going for it. The two climbers thus wanted to climb Broad Peak. “After the introductory trip, it was time to temporarily push the idea of G IV aside and seriously devote energies on the left - Broad Peak.” Interestingly, Ales Cesen had never been to the altitude of 8000m before, while Luka was once at 8200m on Makalu.

On July 2nd, they left for Broad Peak - a couple of hours away G IV BC - and started the ascent. The route had already been fixed till C2 by ‘normal’ Broad Peak climbers. “I saw the modern-day Himalayan style 'conquest' of high mountains for the first time. Slowly pulling the fixed ropes really has nothing much in common with climbing,” noted Ales Cesen.

They spent first night at around 6300m - a little above traditional C2. It snowed during night and the two climber wondered whether to go up or turn back. They decided to push on next morning and installed tent just below 7000m for second night on the mountain.

Following morning, they dismantled the camp and started descending to BC. On the way down, they left a tent and some food at first bivouac site for summit-bid. They were back in G IV BC by lunch time.

Broad Peak Summit
After a few days of rest and recovery, Ales Cesen and Luka Lindic launched Broad Peak summit-push on July 10th. The ascent started in light rain at BC, which turned into light snow as they were 500m higher. They reached C2 bivouac by early afternoon and spent the night there. Meanwhile, skies cleared and the duo climbed to 7100m next day.

Summit-push was launched from 7100m on July 12th. They left the tent at dawn, with extremely light backpacks. The ascent to Col (at around 7900m) in deep snow was slow and demanding. The day had already matured by the time they reached saddle. Negotiating the summit ridge was relatively easier, “[it was] some awkward walk - a little up, a little down - before we shook hands at the very top.” They were down to 7100m camp for night and descend to BC next day.

Those were first and the only summits of the season on Broad Peak; also first eight-thousander summit for Ales Cesen and Luka Lindic.

Objective G IV
After few days of rest, climbers were ready for G IV (and the Shining Wall); but weather remained unfavorable. Eventually, meteorologist confirmed a short period of good weather around July 23rd - 26th. But the window was too short to challenge a mountain face like G IV West Wall. The duo, thus, settled to climb relatively easier Northwest Ridge.

NW Ridge: North Summit and Retreat
Slovenian duo left Base Camp on July 23rd and climbed to the glacier plateau at 5500m. Mountain slopes were still clearing the snow - which stopped just a day earlier- through avalanches. Next day, they found good consolidated condition while continuing the ascent to couloir (at 6500m). Above 6500m, Ales and Luka followed first ascent route - dropping over the col onto Chinese side of mountain. They bivouacked at 6700m in the middle of seracs that night.

Third day proved to be longer than anticipated. Slowly progressing up the technical sections - first rock band - they settled for a third bivouac at 7500m. First warning signs started to appear, there. It snowed at night and continued throughout the following morning. The two climbers continued the ascent. But by the time they reached North Summit, it was evident that reaching main summit - still some horizontal distance away - was out of question.

At North summit fog cleared briefly and the two climbers rested in sun. They were all set for a long retreat. They descended all the way down to glacier plateau at 5500m, reaching there at around 5am next day.

Photo Gallery
All photos taken by Aleš Česen and Luka Lindič
Courtesy: Alpine Association of Slovenia (PZS)

Broad Peak Climb and Summit


Crossing the Cwm towards Col at the bottom of G IV West Face

G IV: On Chinese Side and up the NW Ridge

Bivouac at 7500m

NW Summit

On Descent

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