Gasherbrum I SW Face New Route: Czech Attempt 3

Posted: Jun 06, 2015 05:28 am EDT

(By Raheel Adnan) After an unsuccessful first attempt in 2009 and tragic expedition of 2013, Marek Holecek will be returning to Gasherbrum I Southwest face for a third attempt this summer. Together with fellow Czech climber Tomas Petrecek, they will try to materialize the dream of Marek Holecek/Zdenek Hruby - a new route in alpine style.

Marek Holecek has been climbing challenging routes in Karakoram and Himalayas since late nineties. However, an attempt to climb Gasherbrum I SW Face via new route in 2009 was his first expedition with Zdenek Hruby. It was also his first endeavor to an 8000m peak. The two climbers were at 7500m when Zdenek suffered a ruptured gastric ulcer, and Marek had to assist him down the mountain face. Nonetheless, it wasn’t the end of expedition. Few days later, Marek Holecek made a quick solo ascent of GI via normal route. By that time, all other teams had left the mountain.


2013 expedition was further intense. Zdenek Hruby died on the mountain face after suffering a fatal fall. Marek writes in his expedition report “everything went so smoothly at first. We warmed up on the normal route with a fast ascent to Camp 3 at 7,000 meters, where we deposited our tent for the planned descent. Then we moved over to the glacier below the southwest face. The five-day forecast was favorable enough, so we started climbing. The initial steep gully was nearly bare of snow this year, but the ice was good enough to enable fast progression. We reached the hanging Serac at 6,800 meters and bivouacked right below it. The following day, at a belay stance, Zdenek made a fateful mistake. Without a clear reason or a single word, he started to slide down the icy slope. He did not stop falling for a kilometer.


In 2013, two other climbers Marek Novotny and Tomas Petrecek were also part of Czech Gasherbrums expedition. However, the two didn’t intend to attempt the new route. They, rather, successfully climbed both GI and GII (via normal routes) on July 28th and August 9th, respectively.

Extreme adventurer Tomas Petrecek will be climbing partner of Marek Holecek on new route attempt, this season. In a recent interview Tomas said that their entire focus will be on climbing the SW face itself, since he and Marek has already climbed the mountain (via normal route). The team will be leaving for Pakistan around the start of July.


Gasherbrum I SW Face has been climbed twice via two routes so far. Poles Jerzy Kukuczka and Wojciech Kurtyka made the first ascent of face in 1983, whereas Russians Valery Babanov and Victor Afanasiev opened a new line in 2008 (couple of weeks ago, the two opened a new route on Broad Peak).



Based in Pakistan, mountaineering enthusiast Raheel Adnan is a reporter for Explorersweb's mountaineering sections. He shares regular updates on Twitter and runs his own blog at Altitude Pakistan posting initiated climbing news from Himalaya and Karakoram.



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The Czech route on GI SW Face. Red line shows the duo's progress in 2009.
Routes on GI as seen from Southwest side. 1. SW Ridge (1977); 2. Russian 2008 Route; 3. Polish 1983; 4. Spanish 1983; 5. Route of FA by Americans; 6. Unclimbed winter attempts 2011 & 2012
courtesy Louis Rousseau, SOURCE
Marek Holecek and Zdenek Hruby during 2013 expedition. Zdenek died on the mountain after suffering a fatal fall during summit push.
Marek Novotny and Tomas Petrecek on summit of GII in 2013.