Gasherbrum I SW Face New Route: Summit Attempt?

Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula: Short update

Latest (Monday Aug 15): Day 7: Under Summit?

An update after a couple of days of silence; It appears that the climbers bivouac(ed) right beneath GI summit and are going for the summit tomorrow (or today?).

(Tina’s edit: Message also says that due to low batteries next news will be from base camp.)

Here’s original message in Czech, “Bivakujeme po vrcholovou hlavou a zítra se pokusíme vystoupat na vrchol. Baterka je amare, tak další zprávy až z BC.


Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula have launched summit-bid on Southwest Face of Gasherbrum I. They aim to complete the unfinished line, already attempted by Marek Holecek thrice. The two climbers left Base Camp on August 9th and are currently climbing above 6800m.

Day 1: 6000m
After a couple of false starts, Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula were finally able to launch summit attempt on August 9th. Despite intermittent conditions, the duo was able to cross the icefall and set up first bivouac at 6000m below overhanging seracs on SW Face.

Day 2: 6800m
Although, dawned as a good weather day, conditions changed abruptly on 10th. A few hours into the ascent, clouds came in and it started to snow. With frequent avalanches running down the couloir, their retreat route was cutoff. They, thus, started to go up “as quickly as possible” along the rocks lining the edge of the icy chute. Six hours later, they reached 6800m and set up tent in maw of a serac.

Day 3: 6800m
Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula expected that after a couple of foul days, the weather-forecast would finally hold true for August 11th and they can climb along the rib to 7400m. However, bad weather didn’t let them proceed any further. Avalanches rumbled and flew past them throughout the day. Skies cleared by nightfall and they were yet again hopeful to resume the climb following morning (today, August 12th).

Day 4: 7000m

Czech duo climbed just 200m today and are bivouacking at 7000m. “Good mood and continue tomorrow,” say the climbers. Skies are predicted to remain clear, with moderate winds, for coming days.

Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula reached Gasherbrum BC at around mid-July. They climbed GI normal route till 7500m on July 25th for acclimatization, before returning to BC for rest and recovery. On Southwest Face, they are heading up in pure alpine style; no ropes, no camps, no oxygen, no support.

Marek has already attempted the route three times; twice with Zdenek Hruby in 2009 and 2013 – who sadly perished during latter attempt, and Tomas Petrecek in 2015. Ondra Mandula planned to climb G-IV, together with Jirka Pliska, this season. However, the expedition got delayed due to health issues of Jirka Pliska. Ondra Mandula thus joined Márek Holeček’s GI expedition.