Pakistan: Roundup of Summer Expeditions

Lotta Hintsa and Don Bowie in Base Camp at Broad Peak. Photo: Hussain Aziz

After the disappointing season in Nepal, teams currently heading for Nanga Parbat and the Karakorum promise an exciting season of lighter ascents, bolder routes, locally outfitted trips, and no Everest-like mega-expeditions.

After Pakistan banned Nepali citizens because of COVID, most outfitters from Nepal, the U.S., and Europe canceled their trips. This created uncertainty and disappointment for the “all-serviced” clients but opened opportunities for self-sufficient climbers who wanted a less crowded experience.

Ban lifted

Yesterday evening, Pakistan retooled its ban and now allows Nepali mountain workers into the country, with restrictions: They must provide a vaccination certificate, take a PCR, and quarantine for 10 days at their own expense.

Since the season has already begun, Nepali operators likely won’t have time to organize big commercial expeditions. But they might put up smaller ventures or go to Pakistan as climbers pursuing personal goals.

Seven Summit Treks, in particular, had announced the cancellation of their trips just one day earlier. They still plan an expedition to Nanga Parbat in September and have plenty of time to work out the details.

Meanwhile, Pakistan allows freer entry to most other fully vaccinated foreigners.

This measure is positive for countries where vaccinations are well underway. Ian Welsted of Canada and Graham Zimmerman of the U.S. are both fully cleared for their lightweight K2 West Ridge expedition.

For those relying on oxygen, ropes, and guides on the Abruzzi Spur, Mirza Ali’s Karakorum Expeditions has put together a fully Pakistan-outfitted commercial trip to K2. International guides Jordi Tosas and Stephan Keck will lead the rope-fixers. There will be oxygen and a 1:1 guide/climber ratio for each of its 11 international clients. Ali’s company is also guiding Broad Peak.

Sophie Lenaerts, ready for Broad Peak and K2.

After skiing the Biafo area last fall, Belgians Sophie Lenaerts, Steff Maginelle, and Jeff Spelmans are returning to Pakistan for the K2/Broad Peak doubleheader. Maginelle has previously climbed Everest, Makalu (no O2), Lhotse (no O2), and both Gasherbrums (no O2). Lenaerts has the same resume, but without GII. Spelmans has soloed Khan Tengri and Lenin Peaks.

They will climb with Niels Jespers (Nanga Parbat 2018, K2 attempt in 2019) and also with Wouter Noterman and Luc Beirinckx, on their first 8,000m climb. Noterman and Beirinckx will each hire a local high-altitude porter.

Sajid Sadpara

Sajid Sadpara, the son of the late Muhammad Ali Sadpara, announced months ago that he would lead an expedition to K2 this summer to find the bodies of his father, John Snorri, and Juan Pablo Mohr, and to clean the Abruzzi route of old ropes and garbage. There has been no further word about this project. Sources in Pakistan told ExplorersWeb that young Sadpara wants to go but is currently struggling with a lack of sponsorship.

Don Bowie and Lotta Hintsa have returned to Broad Peak, hoping that summer will offer them more chances to summit than on their winter attempt in 2020 with Denis Urubko. They reached Base Camp last Saturday.

“Nanga Parbat to ourselves”

A Spanish team led by Manuel Gonzalez left Islamabad today for their attempt on what they call the Messner route of Nanga Parbat. Since they will approach up the Diama Glacier, they are referring to the route Messner took on his 1978 solo up the right side of the Diamir Face. Along with Gonzalez, Enrique Osiel, Iñigo Delgado, Sergio Carrascoso, and Carlos Santafe make up the team.

The Spanish Nanga Parbat team at the airport. Photo: Club Alpino Ama Dablam

“We’ll have the mountain all to ourselves, can you imagine?” Gonzalez told ExplorersWeb.

In the Gasherbrums, we await details about Sirbaz Khan’s upcoming attempt. Khan made one of the few no-O2 ascents on Annapurna this spring, which had 67 summits and no casualties, but four climbers rescued.

Technical ascents

French climbers Yannick Graziani, Patrick Wagnon, and Helias Millerioux have just set up Base Camp at the foot of Shispare, a 7,611m peak in the Batura Muztag area. They will spend time acclimatizing and checking the best line up the mountain.  Shispare has been climbed only three times before. You can follow the French trio’s progress on Millerioux’s tracker.

Finally, Nancy Hansen and 14×8,000m summiter Ralf Dujmovits are currently on their way to Biarchedi I (6,810m), an unclimbed peak between Chogolisa and Masherbrum.

Ralf Dujmovits’s next goal: Blarchedi I. Photo: @RalfDujmovits

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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Don Paul
Don Paul
1 month ago

Mirza Ali will be leading a commercial group up the Abruzzi Spur, if Sajid Sadpara can’t go. I think they fell into the crevasse, but the crevasse might have closed up since last year.

In this interview Graham Zimmerman describes his plan to climb the West Ridge of K2, including a 3,000 meter ridgeline which is mostly exposed rock:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgnzTNjJyxU

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Jenny
Jenny
1 month ago

Eagerly awaiting news on Sajid, I hope he gets sponsorship and fulfills his promise to return to K2…
Fingers crossed

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