Kazuya Hiraide Back in Pakistan to Train For K2 West Face — and Nail Some First Ascents

Three-time Piolet d’Or winner Kazuya Hiraide left for Pakistan today with partner Takuya Mitoro to make the first ascent of Karun Koh’s North Face. Karun Koh is remote enough that its altitude is variously described as 6,977m, 7,164m, or 7,360m. Later, the pair plan a first ascent of an unnamed 6,020m peak nearby.

The Japanese climbers said that this is training for the West Face of K2 without O2 in 2022 or 2023.

“The left side of the photo is the unclimbed 6,020m peak, and the right side is Karlunko (6,977m),” Kazuya Hirade wrote on Instagram.


“We will tackle an unexplored 6,020m peak in northern Pakistan,” Hiraide wrote,  including a photo of the peak. He added that the climbers want to practice on a virgin peak in order to develop the right mental attitude for finding a route up K2’s West Face.

Hiraide and Mitoro climbed Shispare (7,611m) together in 2012. Hiraide returned to the peak in 2017 to open a new route with his usual partner, Kenro Nakajima. The climb earned Najakima his first Piolet d’Or and Hiraide his second (after his ascent of 7,756m Kamet in 2009).

Kazuya Hiraide, at the airport yesterday. Photo: Kazuya Hiraide


Pakistan cheaper than Nepal

Kazuya Hiraide is a world-class climber whose lightweight climbs on virgin faces and new routes have gained him international acclaim. He won a third Piolet d’Or for his climb of the South Face of Rakaposhi in 2019, again with Kenro Nakajima.

In an interview with ExplorersWeb’s Rowan White after Rakaposhi, the climbers said that they preferred alpine-style because they need to climb fast in order to finish within Nakajima’s holiday time. They also climb mostly in Pakistan because it is cheaper than in Nepal!

And these guys really climb. Check them out in action on the mind-blowing face of Rakaposhi: