The Madman’s Ball: Alpine-Style Push on Masherbrum

This might be the last good weather window in the Karakoram this season. While the record-seekers try to bag one more peak on Gasherbrum II, Czech climbers Marek Holecek, Radoslav Groh, and Tomas Petrecek have set off toward the unknown, up the West Face of Masherbrum.

Masherbrum rises above other peaks in the Karakorum, surrounded by clouds and with an icy valley in the foreground.

The mighty 7,821m Masherbrum. Photo: Marek Holecek

Fast, light, efficient

Holecek described their upcoming attempt as a “madman’s ball”, with the West Face of Masherbrum serving as the host.

“Almost 3,500 virgin vertical metres await us, on a steep slope that should take five days to reach the top,” Holecek said.

The team plans to traverse the mountain and descend down a different side, which should take a further two days.

Three Czech climbers and their photographer pose for a team photo before their climb.

The Masherbrum team, left to right: R. Groh, M. Holecek, and T. Petrecek. Bunny-posing in front is the team’s photographer.


The key is to be light, fast, and efficient, Holecek explained. However, they realize that there is a lot of uncertainty. Just crossing the broken glacier to reach the mountain and then climbing to the Masherbrum La to scout the route and acclimatize was hard. Doing so in “greenhouse heat” and slushy snow was even harder.

Record-seekers move up the Gasherbrums

Meanwhile, several multi-peak climbers are in the Gasherbrums. They hope to notch one more summit before the season ends.

After his recent successful climb of Nanga Parbat, Shehroze Kashif has now reached Camp 2 on Gasherbrum II. This time, Kashif is climbing with Sajid Sadpara and Imtiaz Sadpara.

Kristin Harila, Pasdawa Sherpa, and Dawa Ongchu should soon be on Gasherbrum II as well, along with three more 8K Expedition climbers. The Norwegian and her Sherpa guides are trying to turn the Gasherbrums into their 10th and 11th 8,000’ers.

Grace Tseng of Taiwan has also joined the push on Gasherbrum II, according to the Alpymon blog. Nima Gyalzen and Ningma Tamang of Dolma Outdoor are leading the charge.

On Gasherbrum I, also known as Hidden Peak, Sanu Sherpa is guiding Naoko Watanabe. Meanwhile, Sirbaz Khan of Pakistan leads a separate three-man team.

An image of Gasherbrum II showing the various camps on the typical route.

Gasherbrum II route map. Photo: Pasang Nurbu Sherpa

Nanga Parbat

The current pushes will probably be the last of the season in the Karakoram. Yet Mingma G’s expedition to Nanga Parbat (in the Himalaya) is currently in Skardu, preparing to leave for Base Camp with their team’s Sherpas.

A team photo of Imagine Nepal's Sherpa team who will go to Nanga Parbat.

Imagine Nepal’s Sherpa team is bound for Nanga Parbat. Photo: Mingma G

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.