Karakoram Alpine Style: Diran, Pumari Chhish, K7

Several small teams are on their way to highly technical peaks in the Karakoram, aiming for alpine style ascents and some ski descents.

Mathieu Maynadier, for example, has set his sights on 7,266m Diran Peak.

“The first time I saw this peak 15 years ago, locals told me that nobody had made a ski descent [of it],” Mynadier wrote recently. He’s had the idea in mind since then.

Diran is not only a worthy goal but also the perfect training for an unspecified “project in Nepal next fall”, he added. Maynadier will climb with Leo Slemett.

Snowy peak in orange light

Diran Peak at sunset. Photo: Mathieu Maynadier


Last year, Maynadier stopped 100 vertical metres shy of the yet untouched summit of Pumari Chhish East. This season, a French expedition is making another attempt. Jerome Sullivan, Victor Saucede, and Christophe Ogier are currently waiting out bad weather on the mountain. But the storm should ease soon.

“Forecasts show better weather next week and all going well, the team may launch their summit push then,” Ishaq Khan of High Mountains T&T told ExplorersWeb.

In an era of increasing commercialization, these small but ambitious teams remain at the vanguard of modern alpinism. The problem (for our coverage) is that they rarely reveal their plans in advance or communicate much while they are climbing.

The quiet expeditions

However, social media silence can have unexpected consequences, as Jeff and Priti Wright discovered during their “quiet” expedition to K6 Central in 2020.

“We thought that we would be really cool and not post anything about what we were planning…or even that we were going at all,” Jeff Wright wrote. “This had the unintended consequence of several friends worrying about us since we had gone dark on social media for over a month.”

Portrait of Jeff and Priti Wright

Jeff and Priti Wright before their departure. Photo: Arc’teryx


So this time, at least, they have decided to alert everyone that they’re going to be off the grid for a while. “We’ll be in Pakistan for two months this summer without internet or cell reception in the Charakusa Valley,” they said. “Originally, we did not want to disclose our intended objective(s) for this trip, but our grants spilled the beans and we’re still being vague about the details on our project.”

Indeed, we reported on the American Alpine Club grants and mentioned that the couple is heading for K7 Central.

They have decided to share their InReach tracker, which located them in Hushe village earlier today. Tomorrow, they’ll begin their trek to K7 with a group of porters.

Mystery expeditions ahead

According to local agencies, the Wrights may not be the only ones attempting K7 this season.

Spiky mountain, part grey rock, part snow- and glacier-covered

The West Face of Tahu Rutum rises out of the junction of the Hispar-Biafo Glaciers. Photo: Karrar Haidri


Climbers are also reportedly heading for Lupghar Sar (the late Hansjörg Auer soloed its west point in 2018), Muchu Chhish (the highest unclimbed peak in the Batura region), and unsolved problems such as Karun Kuh and Tahu Rutun. There are also more expeditions currently on Pakistan’s 6,000’ers and 7,000’ers. We’ll share the news as we hear it.

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.