Hungarian Pair to Attempt 3rd-Highest Peak in Hindu Kush

Hungarians David Klein and Bence Kerekes have arrived in Chitral, Pakistan. They are heading shortly to the Hindu Kush range to carry out some technical, alpine-style climbs on 6,000 and 7,000m peaks.

Their main objective is the Istor-O-Nal massif, located a few kilometers northeast of Tirich Mir. The massif has several peaks over 7,000m. The main one, at 7,403m, is the third-highest peak in the Hindu Kush.

close-up map of Istor-O-Nal

Istor-O-Nal, red dot. The green dot at bottom marks Tirich Mir, the highest peak in the Hindu Kush.


Overview map of the region



The two alpinists only received their climbing permit at the last minute. They consider themselves lucky, since in recent years, several teams weren’t allowed to climb there.

“As the last expedition to this mountain was over 20 years ago, there are many uncertainties,” admitted Kerekes.

Bence Kerekes and David Klein at the airport of Budapest, Hungary.

Bence Kerekes and David Klein at the airport of Budapest, Hungary. Photo: David Klein


Early climbs

The first attempts on Istor-O-Nal  (“Horseshoe” in Chitrali) followed the southwest ridge. In 1929 and in 1935, two expeditions tried without success. Then in 1955, an American team supposedly made the mountain’s first ascent.

But later, when a Catalan team, led by Jose Manuel Anglada, topped out on Aug. 12, 1969, they discovered that the U.S. climbers actually missed the main summit.

Istor-O-Nal, at about 7,000m on the southwest ridge in 1935.

Istor-O-Nal, at about 7,000m on the southwest ridge in 1935. Photo: R.J. Lawder


According to the Americans’ report, they climbed to the highest point on the ridge between the Rock Pinnacle and Istor-O-Nal North (7,373m) because of cloudy weather. This was not the main summit.

In 1968 and 1969, three more expeditions reached the same lower point.

But later in 1969, Anglada’s team traversed the steep southern slopes from the Rock Pinnacle to the col leading to the main peak. According to mountain historian Jill Neate, they went from there to the southeast and south summits and back to the col.

One year later, Thomas A. Mutch of that 1955 U.S. team acknowledged in the American Alpine Journal, “In view of the new information provided by Anglada, I am willing publicly to credit him with the first ascent of the main summit of Istor-O-Nal.”


Istor-O-Nal. Photo:


Former partner of Suhajda Szilard

Klein is a former climbing partner of the late Suhajda Szilard, who died a few days ago on Everest). This is the first time that Klein and Bence Kerekes have partnered up.

David Klein (first on the left), Suhajda's wife Timea Legindi and mountain journalist Laszlo Pinter a few days ago, waiting for news on Suhajda from Everest.

David Klein, left, Suhajda Szilard’s wife Timea Legindi, and mountain journalist Laszlo Pinter wait for news from Everest a few days ago. Photo: Frame of a video from Hungarian TV


Klein, 48, had led a successful expedition to Tirich Mir in 1998 and to Broad Peak in 2000. He attempted Everest several times without bottled oxygen, including once to the East Face.  He also made winter attempts on Nanga Parbat and Denali.

Bence Kerekes, 33, is also a slackliner and sky runner. Some years ago, he moved to Switzerland to be closer to the Alps. In March 2021, after an accident in the Alps, he lost four fingers on one hand. But he has kept up his motivation. Last year, he was on a Hungarian team that made the first ascent of 5,984m Bondit Peak in the Karakoram, via the technically difficult northeast ridge.

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.