Pakistan Alpine Style: The Return of the Real Mountaineers

This season may bring back good memories of old times. A number of small teams are tackling new routes and first ascents throughout the Karakorum. Even on the 8,000’ers, some are opting for different routes, such as K2’s West Face. As on Gasherbrum and Broad Peak, climbers will break their own trails rather than wait for the route to be packed down, ropes fixed, and all camps supplied.

The downside is that the probability of success diminishes, but that’s what elite mountaineering is about.

Hence, Ralf Dujmovits and Nancy Hansen had to retreat from their attempt on Biarchedi I. But their story and pictures have drawn attention to this hitherto unknown peak and earned applause from the climbing community for their attempt. Their failure to summit also reminds us that these feats are difficult and that a 6,000m peak can be harder than an 8,000m one.

Congratulatory post for success on Damsun Peak. Photo: High Mountains Treks


We can also appreciate the successes more keenly. Chamonix guides Jerome Sullivan, Martin Elias, Jeremy Stagnetto, and Victor Saucede have just bagged the first ascent of 6,666m Dunsum (Dansam according to other reports) Peak. So far, we have no details, just the announcement by their tour operator High Mountains Treks and Tours.

The Czech team en route to Muchu Chhish.


Pavel Korínek, Jiri Janak, Lukas Dubsky, Leos Hustak and Tomas Petrecek of the Czech Republic are on their way to Muchu Chhish. Despite several attempts, the 7,452m peak remains the tallest unclimbed mountain in Pakistan, at least among those open to climbing.

Unfortunately for us observers, most smaller teams focus on climbing and rarely post daily dispatches that allow us to follow along vicariously. Tom Livingstone and Mathieu Maynadier recently waved goodbye to Instagram for six weeks, when they left for Pumari Chhish.

Meanwhile on K2, on the far edge of an increasingly populated Base Camp, Ian Welsted and Graham Zimmerman have pitched their tent overlooking the Savoia Glacier. Their next goal: the West Ridge of K2. They have already had a closer look at the mighty rock face. “3,300m of climbing. Nobody around,” Welsted happily reported.

Looking up the Savoia Glacier with K2’s SW Face in the background. Photo: Ian Welsted


Bad weather on Gasherbrum I

On Gasherbrum I, Marco Confortola and Mario Vielmo have already found the way across the glacier and set up Camp 1. Today, they left Base Camp to pitch Camp 2 at 6,400m, but rapidly worsening weather stopped them at Camp 1. Here, they will spend the night.

The same bad weather has pushed Don Bowie and Lotta Hintsa down after they finally managed to establish Camp 2. Previously, serious avalanche danger had kept them from reaching that point.

“[After setting up Camp 2] we stayed for the night, though we had to leave in a hurry early in the morning when it started snowing hard again,” Hintsa wrote. “At this point we’d run out of food, so we didn’t have the option of getting stuck for days.”

Back at Base Camp, Hintsa was surprised to find that it had “at least quadrupled in size” during their six days on the mountain.

Lotta Hintsa at Camp 1 on Broad Peak. Photo: Don Bowie


A final note: On Nanga Parbat, some members of the Adalusian team have called their expedition off after three weeks of bad weather. However, Manuel Gonzalez and Sergio Carrascoso will continue.