Tom Ballard Reaches Camp 1 on Nanga Parbat

Tom Ballard has begun his ascent of Nanga Parbat’s Diamir Face.  The British alpinist has teamed with veteran Italian Daniele Nardi to tackle this ninth tallest mountain in the world (8,126 m). They arrived at Base Camp during the final days of December and are currently at Camp 1 at 4,700m, with the unclimbed Mummery Spur in sight. In 1895, Albert Mummery led the first expedition on the mountain but died at 6,100 meters on the spur now named after him.

Ballard is the son of renowned British mountaineer Alison Hargreaves, who died on K2 in 1995. (Her death led to a lot of gendered criticism about taking risks with a child at home.) Ballard can perhaps lay claim as the youngest up the North Face of the Eiger: His mother soloed the route while six months pregnant. A few years later, she became the first to climb the six classic alpine North Faces, solo and in one season. In 2014-15, Ballard took his mother’s remarkable legacy one step further by soloing the same six routes in winter, also a first.

Ballard has excelled in the Alps but has never previously set foot on an 8000’er, so it seemed wise to pair up with Nardi, who has been on Nanga Parbat four times in winter. “It’s a new learning experience,” said Ballard. “I have to learn a lot more about my body and how I react to altitude. Himalayan winter alpinism is so much more remote, so much higher and colder [than the Alps]. It makes everything more difficult and dangerous. The tasks involved in Himalayan climbing are the same, just harder.

The duo intend to climb alpine style and use fixed ropes sparingly. They will acclimatize in their advanced camps during the more technical sections below 6,500m, with one further camp planned at high altitude.