Pakistan Update: Germans Summit Unclimbed Peak

Great news just in from Pakistan: German Felix Berg, Mirza Ali Baig and three German clients bagged the first ascent of a 5,770m peak in Shimshal today at 10am.

The team started their trek up the Shimshal Valley earlier this week. As Berg told Stefan Nestler’s Adventure Mountain blog, the expedition aimed at “two mountains on the right side of the Shimshal Valley, about 6,000m high, which have not yet been climbed and do not yet have a name.” The Germans, all of whom tested negative for COVID-19 just before leaving, noted that they were the only foreigners in Hunza area, although not the only tourists: Some staycationing locals were also enjoying the cooler temperatures and fresh air.

Felix Berg in Hunza.

 

Meanwhile, a second European team, this one from the Czech Republic, landed in Hunza recently and is heading for Muchu Chhish, a 7,453m peak in Batura Muztagh. Among the Pakistan peaks that require no specific climbing permit, Muchu Chhis is considered the highest unclimbed one. Members Pavel Korinek, Pavel Bem and Jiri Janak plan to follow the same route up the southwest side that British climbers Jim Oates, Peter Thompson and Phil de Beger attempted in 2014.

The 2014 British team’s route on Muchu Chhis.  Photo: Carlos Garranzo

 

Unfortunately, the third expedition in Pakistan has called it quits: Sa’ad Mohamed aborted the attempt on Rakhiot Peak, after tricky ice conditions above 5,700m prevented his team from setting up Camp 3. They retreated, and after some deliberation, with heavy rain pouring on their heads, they packed up and headed home.

In Nepal, no expedition has yet confirmed plans for any 8,000’er. In fact, several operators have cancelled their guided expeditions for this fall, most recently, Nirmal Purja, who hoped to bring clients to Everest-Lhotse and Manaslu.

COVID cases continue to rise steadily in Nepal, and while the country lifted its lockdown on July 21, any of its 77 districts may impose their own restrictions. (Check here for the prohibitions imposed in Kathmandu yesterday.) Furthermore, the monsoon rains have continued and are causing heavy floods. The smart money is on expeditions not resuming till 2021.

And yet neighboring Pakistan was recently in the same position as Nepal, with rising COVID numbers. After a blank summer on the Karakorum’s 8,000’ers, a handful of climbers decided to target exciting new 5,000 to 7,000m summits. These more modest objectives have given smaller teams a taste of action on shorter trips, with simpler logistics and less time to pick up or spread the disease. It also allows last-minute, highly flexible plans. While these modest projects hardly relieve the shattered Himalayan economy, it might at least encourage some climbing in Nepal’s near future.

Angela Benavides is a journalist specialised on high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news working with ExplorersWeb.com.

Angela Benavides 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 national and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporates, press manager and communication executive, radio reporter and anchorwoman, etc. Experience in Education: Researcher at Spain’s National University for Distance Learning on the European Commission-funded ECO Learning Project; experience in teaching ELE (Spanish as a Second Language) and transcultural training for expats living in Spain.

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