Russian Trio to Attempt the Unclimbed North Face of The Ogre

The North Face of Baintha Brakk I (7,285m), commonly known as The Ogre, is one of the unsolved problems of the Himalaya. Russians Ratmir Mukhametzyanov, Alexander Parfenov, and Alexey Sukharev are heading there to attempt his incredibly difficult face.

three men on stage raise ceremonial ice ax

The team last year during the Russian Piolet d’Or ceremony. Photo: Alexander Parfenov


Mukhametzyanov describes the upcoming expedition as the culmination of their evolution as climbers over many years.

“Only now have we become able to accomplish something significant and leave our mark on history with the first ascent of a legendary mountain,” he wrote.

Last year, the trio won the Russian version of the Piolet d’ Or for their new route on Military Topographers Peak in the central Tien Shan.

Difficult and dangerous

The Ogre is an impressive granite tower erupting from three groups of jagged Karakoram peaks: the Latoks, the Ogres, and the Biacherahi Towers. The North Face of the Ogre is accessible from the Choktoi Glacier.

Baintha Brakk I, aka the Ogre, has seen only three ascents in history. The first, in 1977 by Doug Scott and Chris Bonington, is one of those well-known mountain epics. After climbing the southwest spur to the south summit, Doug Scott broke both his legs in a fall but managed to crawl down the mountain. Improbably, both men survived.


The second ascent, by Urs Stocker, Iwan Wolf, and Thomas Huber up the South Pillar, took 20 failed attempts by several teams over 24 years. Kyle Dempster and Hayden Kennedy bagged the third ascent in 2012 via a new route up the South Face and earned a Piolet d’Or for it. This is a difficult, dangerous mountain, no matter which side you try.

The latest attempt on the Ogre took place last year. Francois Cazzanelli and Matteo della Bordella of Italy, Silvan Schupbach of Switzerland, and Symon Welfringer of France attempted the Southeast Pillar. Due to conditions, they didn’t make it very far, but they managed to open a new route on Baintha Kabata, a nearby peak whose name means The Ogre’s Son.

Attempts on the North Face

In 2012, Herve Barmasse and Daniele Bernasconi reconnoitered the North Face, which is even more vertical and dangerous than the South Side. Again, bad weather prevented them from attempting the face.

The formidable north face of the Ogre with a route marked in red going up to a rock band.

The unclimbed North Face of the Ogre and the route to the highest point reached in 2015 by Bruce Normand and Billy Pierson. Photo: Bruce Normand/AAJ


Bruce Normand (UK) attempted the North Face of the Ogre in 2013 and 2015 with Billy Pierson of the U.S. Read Anton Karnoup’s extensive report on the 2013 attempt here.

In 2015, they noted in the American Alpine Journal that a rock band halted them. It was “by no means the excellent granite for which the Ogre is famous, but a slabby, friable, red- and black-streaked stone, which takes no protection and would not even remain in place for long enough to host a tool or a crampon.”

“With no ice or snow cover, which could perhaps be expected only in September, progress was impossible,” Normand added.

Now it’s the Russians’ turn to take on this formidable beast.

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.