Summer 2013 | A Successful Climbing Season Away from 8000m Peaks

Despite the dominantly tragic season on 8000m peaks, the updates from lower peaks of Karakoram have majorly been encouraging. Virgin peaks, Kunyang Chhish East (7400m) and K6 West (7100m), were successfully summited. Success stories also arrive from rock faces of Trango and Uli Biaho Towers. Spanish team achieved first BASE jump descent of the beautiful Laila peak in Hushe Valley. Although, several teams couldn’t achieve their goals but, fortunately, the season went by without any tragedy.

Half Attempt on Masherbrum (7821m)
Also known as K1, Masherbrum is a promising mountain by the side of Baltoro Glacier. This summer, Austrian alpinists David Lama and Peter Ortner were in Pakistan to attempt the peak via new route, but they had to abandon the expedition at it's middle due to trouble with Peter’s knee and shoulder. During their stay in Karakoram from last week of June to mid-July, they acclimatized on unknown peaks of altitude 5200m and 6100m. Problems with Peter's knee and shoulder developed during acclimatization phase, which forced them to return home without attempting the Masherbrum itself.

First Ascent of Kunyang Chhish East (7400m) 
Austrian brothers Hansjoerg Auer and Matthias Auer along with Swiss climber Simon Anthamatten accomplished the first ascent of Kunyang Chhish East via the challenging Southwest Face. They arrived in Pakistan in first week of June. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, they reached the summit on July 19th. "The route isn't technically difficult, but the combination of the height of the face and of course the altitude makes this mountain a great challenge," recalls Hansjoerg Auer.

First Ascent of K6 West (7100m)
Another unclimbed 7000m peak, K6 West in Charakusa Valley was ascended by Canadian duo, Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welsted, this summer. Start of their expedition was a bit rough. Repeated cancellations of Skardu flights, Nanga Parbat massacre and closure of KKH forced their American fellow Jesse Huey to return home. After acclimatizing on Sulu Peak (5950 m) and Farol West (6150 m), Raphael and Ian launched K6 West attack on July 25th and reached the top on 29th. "Silent, ice-clad mountains marched off to the north; on the southern horizon, brown lowlands merged with a hazy sky. We sat on nearly empty packs and took it all in. We couldn't stay on top forever; we never can."

Climber walking to Link Sar, K6 in background. Source

Link Sar (7041m) Attempt

The time when Canadians were approaching the summit of K6 West, Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman, arrived in Charakusa Valley aiming to climb K6 West and Link Sar. Since the former peak was already climbed, the Brits shifted their focus to Link Sar. From acclimatization to two attempts on Link Sar, the expedition hasn’t been particularly smooth for Andy and Jon. The rain and bad weather affected the acclimatization, while final summit bid was thwarted as Andy developed some health problems during climb.

Tough Conditions on Diran Peak (7266m)
Several teams attempted Diran Peak this summer but were unable to gain significant altitude. Slovak team led by Peter Skorik and Czech Expedition led by Pavel Matousek were unable to go beyond C1.

Paiju Peak (6610)

Basque team Alberto IƱurrategi , Juan Vallejo and Mikel Zabalza attempted new route on Southside of Paiju Peak (6610), but weather and the challenge of rocky pillar proved to be more difficult than the team was hoping for. Starting the summit bid on July 3rd, they reached the base of 1000m vertical wall in one day. Over the next three days, they gained 500m in capsule style and reached a snowfield, where blizzard and snowstorm struck them. Having failed to climb further for two days, they decided to turn back. "The main reason for the failure was the weather, but not the 'only' since the strategy wasn't right either. Our planned style was too light; we needed more resources. Perhaps we were not as good as we thought or perhaps the wall is bigger than we thought."concluded the team. They are hoping to attempt the wall again, next year.

Route on Paiju South Face; Source

Success on Nameless Tower (6286m)
Siberian climbers Denis Veretenin and Eugeny Bashkirtsev repeated the ascent of Trango Nameless Tower via Slovenian route in 1.5 days, this year. Previously in summer 2011, the duo climbed Spanish route in 2 days.

Korean all ladies team of Mi Sun Chae, Mi Sun Han, Jin Ah Lee and Jum Sook Kim, was also successful on Trango Tower. They left BC on August 8th, reaching the summit on 12th. They were German route.

New Routes on Uli Biaho Tower (6109m)

Italian Matteo Della Bordella, Swiss Luca Schiera and Czech Silvan Schupbach established a new route on Southwest Face of Uli Biaho Tower (6109m), which they consider is the easiest of all routes. Initially, they intended to climb Southeast Face, but challenges of the wall forced them to change the plan. After a failed attempt, they started the successful summit bid on July 19th, reaching the top on 21st. They free climbed almost the entire route, except a 20m section of wet crack under a waterfall.

After Trango Tower, Denis Veretenin and Eugeny Bashkirtsev moved to neighboring massif of Uli Biaho and opened a new route in the middle of Uli Biaho Tower's East Face. They spent 7 days on wall including 3 days of bad weather.

Europeans route on Uli Biaho Southwest Face; Source

Laila Peak’s BASE Jumping Descent
Spanish climbers Alex Txikon and Jose Fernandez bagged the first winter ascent of Laila Peak in February this year. Ramon Portilla was also part of the expedition but couldn’t join the summit-bid, due to cold. Ramon has now made it to the top with BASE jumpers, Dario Barrio and Carlos Suarez. Importantly, Carlos Suarez was successful in making a BASE jumping descent, becoming the first person to do so on Laila Peak.

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