Biarchedi I: Exploring a New Route

There is no straightforward line of ascent on Biarchedi I, so despite its location in a popular part of the Karakorum, its 6,810m summit remains untouched.

Here, Ralf Dujmovits and Nancy Hansen are currently trying to find their magic line. As the topo below suggests, they will have to reach the summit from a steep, icy col located beyond Biarchedi II. They will have to traverse this col somehow.

Dujmovits and Hansen’s planned route on Biarchedi I, seen from from Laila Peak. Photo: Luka Pandolfi, from @RalfDujmovits


After arriving two weeks ago, the pair established base camp at 4,550m, right in front of Leila peak. Last week, they set off on a first acclimatization+exploration round. They aimed for the key saddle at 5,650m. They wanted to reach it as soon as possible in order to scout the way forward (up the section hidden in the picture). Weather forecasts were not optimistic, but they went up anyway.

“During five days and four nights, we had almost entirely crappy weather, with over 40cm of fresh snow and a total of six hours of sunshine,” Dujmovits reported. “Still, we reached our goal: We found our route to the steep-sided col which will allow us to approach the unclimbed Biarchedi I.”

They also pitched a small bivy tent at the col, which helped them acclimatize.

Nancy Hansen last week in the tent pitched at the Col (5,600m). Photo: Ralf Dujmovits


Their main problem was the lack of visibility for most of the climb, because of heavy snow and wind. Luckily, conditions briefly improved at a critical moment.

“For a few minutes, we had enough visibility to be 50% sure that we reached the col that will allow us to descend to the glacier on the other side,” said Dujmovits.

Ralf Dujmovits back at Base Camp. Photo: Nancy Hansen


Right now, they are resting back in base camp. They have not specified their strategy for the next push up but it might include a summit attempt.

Climbing during a short sunny period, with the impressive Laila Peak in the background to the left. Photo: Ralf Dujmovits

Opportunities for creative climbers

Purists may argue that Dujmovits and Hansen’s climb is not strictly alpine style. They are not climbing in a single push and they may have left some rope at the col to rappel down. Nevertheless, this is a beautiful example of the infinite possibilities that the Karakorum and nearby ranges offer creative, self-sufficient expeditions looking for demanding goals on lonely peaks. What these peaks lack in 8,000m pizzazz, they gain with no ropes, no crowds, and no other footprints.

There are hundreds of unclimbed peaks between 6,000 and 7,000m in Pakistan. Some are relatively accessible. Biarchedi is just one to two days from K2 Base Camp. Also, climbers don’t need to pay fees for peaks less than 6,500m. Those peaks between 6,501 and 7,000m cost just $900, but there may be discounts, depending on location. Check further info here.