2013 Review Part-3 | An Excellent Year on Lower Peaks

With all 8000m peaks and their major routes done long ago, today’s alpinists find great challenges in lower peaks. First ascents of 7000m and lower peaks, rising above unclimbed mountain faces and climbing technically demanding line are major attractions in Himalayas and Karakoram. Several of such ascents have been witnessed this year.

Ascents in Spring

Talung - North Face
The first ascent of challenging north face of Talung (7349m) in alpine style by Czech alpinists Zdenek Hruby and Marek Holecek was one the most distinguished climbs, this spring. After due acclimatization in the valley, the north face climb began on May 15th. It took them five days to negotiate the 2500m wall. Having reached the top on May 19th, the duo made it back to BC on 20th. It was only the fourth overall ascent of Talung.

Ghandarbha Chuli (6248m)
In May, Romanians Cosmin Andron and Cristina Pogacean climbed Ghandarbha Chuli (6248m) in Annapurna region. The mountain had never been attempted before and is considered sacred because of its association with neighboring sacred peak Macchapuchhare (6,993m).

A Productive Summer

Kunyang Chhish East
Amidst the series of tragic news from 8000m peaks, arrived the update of Simon Anthamatten, Hansjoerg Auer and Matthias Auer’s success on Kunyang Chhish East (7400m), this summer. They climbed the 2400m Southwest face, which has generally been regarded as one of the great remaining problems in Karakoram. The Austrian brothers and Swiss alpinist reached the top on July 19th, 2013. Hansjoerg recalls the moment as, “[we] had tears in our eyes as we embraced each other (at the summit)”.

K6 West
Kunyang Chhish East was followed by a striking achievement in Charakusa Valley. Rafal Slawinski and Ian Welsted summited the previously unclimbed K6 West peak (7100m), on July 29th via Northwest face. The Canadian duo overcame the issues of difficult approach, continuous avalanche danger and the departure of third member Jesse Huey after Nanga Parbat BC massacre, to achieve success on one of the major “unclimbed pure alpine objectives”.

Uli Biaho Tower
A couple of new routes were opened on 6109m Uli Biaho tower, this summer. After initial failure on Southeast Face, the three men team (Italian Matteo Della Bordella, Swiss Luca Schiera and Czech Silvan Schupbach) shifted their attention to Southwest and climbed a new route, which they presume is the easiest way up the tower. Except a 20m section, they free climbed the entire route, reaching the top on July 21st.

Russians Denis Veretenin and Eugeny Bashkirtsev had another successful climbing year in Karakoram. After success on Trango Tower Slovenian route, the duo climbed a difficult and dangerous fresh route on Uli Biaho Tower's East Face. On fourth day of the climb that began on August 7, snow and bad weather struck them. After being holed up for a day, they decided to go up and eventually reached the summit on seventh day. The duo called their route as “Russian Roulette”.

In late summer, Portuguese climbers Daniela Teixeira and Paulo Roxo bagged the first ascent of Kapura South (6350m) in the Nangma Valley. They climbed the SW Ridge between September 6th and 9th.

Laila Peak
Although not as demanding as a few other mountains in this list, Laila Peak (6096m) in Hushe Valley is considered to be one of the most beautiful peaks in Karakoram. Spanish Alex Txikon and Jose Fernandez bagged the first winter ascent of the peak in February this year. Ramon Portilla was also part of the expedition but couldn’t join the summit-bid, because of cold. He later returned to the mountain with BASE jumpers, Dario Barrio and Carlos Suarez, in summer. The three were successful in reaching the top, whereas Carlos Suarez also made a BASE jumping descent, becoming the first person to do so on Laila Peak.

Success in Autumn
The inertia of success in summer somewhat continued to autumn season as well.

New Route on GauriShankar
French climbers Pierre Labbre, Mathieu Detrie, Matthieu Maynadier and Jerome Para climbed a new line on South face of GauriShankar (7134m) - a sacred mountain at the border of Tibet-Nepal in Rolwaling Himalaya. “About the climb, we have climbed it in three days from the 20 to the 23”, reported the team.

Kishtwar Kailash First Ascent
Located in disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Kishtwar Kailash (6451) is the highest peak in East Kishtwar. Two British alpinists, Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden, bagged the first ascent of the mountain in October, this year. They climbed the challenging 1500m Southwest Face of the mountain between October 4th and 9th, in alpine style.

New Route to East Summit of Kang Nachugo
The series of successful ascents in autumn continued as Slovenian-Spanish duo, Santiago Padros and Domen Kastelic, opened a new route on SW Face of Kang Nachugo in Rolwaling valley. They left the BC on October 20th and were at the East Summit (6640m) by 22nd. As the ridge leading to main summit presented dangerous condition, the pair decided to turn back.

Bamongo, 6400m
A Nepalese-Chinese team was successful on Bamongo (6400m) - another unclimbed peak in Rolwaling Himal - this autumn. Mingma Gyalji Sherpa, Pema Tshering Sherpa and Liu Yong reached the summit on October 30th.

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