Muchu Chhish — Czechs Back for the Highest Unclimbed Peak

A five-member Czech team is approaching the wild Batura massif for a second attempt on 7,453m Muchu Chhish. It is the highest unclimbed peak in Pakistan and the second highest on Earth, after 7,570m Gangkhar Puensum in Bhutan.

Climbers can’t try Gangkhar Puensum because of a local religious ban, which makes Muchu Chhish essentially the world’s highest unclimbed peak — a real prize.

The Batura Muztag area is possibly the wildest corner of these already wild Pakistan mountains. Protected by a gigantic moat of broken glaciers, its peaks rise above 7,000m — a rock-and-ice challenge for climbers ready to embrace adventure rather than the fashionable figure of 8,000.

Two aerial views of remote Muchu Chhish.


Muchu Chhish lies on the western side of the massif. Because of its remoteness and objective difficulties, few expeditions consider venturing into the Batura area.


Only three previous attempts

Muchu Chhish has seen only three previous attempts. One of those groups has now returned for a second try. A British team led by Peter Thomson first tried in 2014. Last year, with Pakistan partially open after the COVID lockdown, three members of the current Czech team reached 6,500m. Climbing from the south side, they made it to just below the summit ridge.

On an earlier exploratory trek in 2019, the Czechs observed the massif’s north side, which they deemed unattainable because of constant avalanches and serac falls. (Check the drone footage above).

During the 2020 attempt, the Czechs managed to complete a terrible traverse between Camp 1 and Camp 2, across a sharp rock and ice rib. Bad weather ended the expedition before they could reach the ridge.

The highly difficult section between C1 and C2, climbed by the Czech expedition.


The third previous attempt occurred last September. Spain’s Jordi Tosas (currently on K2) and Austrian speed climber Philipp Brugger gave the same route a try but managed to get just 200m higher. Tosas, who had previously snowboarded down Cho Oyu and partially down two other 8,000’ers, then skied back down to Base Camp.


Getting there is half the fun

The current expedition, with leader Pavel Korinek, 2020 climber Jiri Janak, plus Lukas Dubsky, Leos Hustak, and Tomas Petrecek have already had some adventures on their road trip to Karimabad. A rockslide blocked the road at Babusar Pass, and the climbers slept on the floor of their mini-bus during the delay.

“At least we had an unexpected acclimatization round since Babusar Pass is at 4,000m,” they joked.

Yesterday, they engaged in some last-minute paperwork, such as getting their vaccination certificates translated into Urdu. Their porters are due to set off with the expedition cargo today.

“[First] we will climb Sang-e-Marmar Peak, where we plan to do our acclimatization,” they wrote. Sang-e-Marmar reaches 6,997m.

Muchu Chhish expedition members in Karimabad yesterday. Photos: MuchuChhish 2021 Expedition