Far From Empty: Who’s Still Climbing in the Karakoram?

Over 150 climbers summited K2 recently, but now most of the big teams have gone home. Some, prompted by unstable weather, have even aborted attempts on peaks for which they had bought permits. Yet a few ambitious individuals remain, either to pursue records, new routes, or off-season climbs.

Broad Peak hopefuls have mainly gone home. Conditions were far from ideal on the mountain, and even the trek back to Skardu, flooded in places, was difficult.

August is also a religious month in Pakistan. Locals are celebrating Muharram, the New Year in the Islamic calendar. Most porters have returned home for the festivities, Shehroze Kashif’s home team told ExplorersWeb.

Gasherbrums: Pakistani young guns

Yet the young Pakistani, who was struggling with fundraising earlier in the season, has managed to find the money to attempt Gasherbrum II. He is now waiting on the weather. For this project, he has joined forces with Sajid Sadpara and Imtiaz Sadpara.

Until yesterday, the three had Base Camp to themselves. Today, the 8K team joined them. It includes Kristin Harila, Pasdawa Sherpa, Dawa Ongchu, Sirbaz Khan, Grace Tseng, Nima Gyalzen Sherpa, and Ningma Dorje Tamang.

Harila has only five peaks left in her attempt to break Nirmal Purja’s 14×8,000m speed record. Tseng has 10 8,000’ers and has lately climbed without O2. Meanwhile, Sirbaz Khan hopes to turn Gasherbrum I into his 11th 8,000’er.

Kristin Harila and two Sherpas, portrait in the snow

Pasdawa Sherpa, Kristin Harila, and Dawa Ongchu atop Broad Peak. Photo: Kristin Harila


The route on Gasherbrum II is partly fixed, but we don’t know the state of the route up GI (Hidden Peak). However, Sanu Sherpa, leader of the Pioneer Adventure team, is currently there, probably fixing the ropes, according to his friend, Nang Norbu Sherpa. Sanu Sherpa completed his 2x14x8,000’er record (all 14 of them, twice) on Gasherbrum II some days ago.

With time of the essence, Harila hopes to notch these two as soon as possible. Kashif is impatient to begin his summit push this week before worsening weather ends the season.

Grace Tseng of Taiwan says she hopes to summit both Gasherbrums by mid-August.

…and more

Meanwhile, a strong team comprising Ales Cesen, Tom Livingstone, Vilborg Arna Gissurardottir, and Siggi Bjarni have permits for both GII and GIII. Arna confirmed that she and Bjarni are doing a different climb than Livingstone and Cesen, but shared no further details.

Climber Vilborg Arna roped up on a snowy glacier in the Gasherbrums area

Vilborg Arna on a glacier in the Gasherbrum region. Photo: Vilborg Arna

Masherbrum West Face about to begin

Not far from the Gasherbrums, Marek Holecek, Radoslav Groh, and Tomas Petrecek have finished acclimatizing. The Czech team is now ready to begin their alpine-style push up Masherbrum’s West Face.
Masherbrum appearing from behind the clouds.

Masherbrum. Photo: Marek Holecek

Finally, the Imagine Nepal team led by Mingma G will attempt Nanga Parbat in the second half of August. Some new members will join the team, which also includes others who summited K2, such as Canadian Jill Wheatley. They will have the whole mountain to themselves.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.