45 Pitches on Shingu Charpa

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Photo courtesy of www.mountain.ru.

45 Pitches on Shingu Charpa

Kelly Cordes and Josh Wharton experienced an “excellent failure” on the striking North Ridge of 18,373-foot Shingu Charpa in Pakistan, climbing 45 pitches to complete the ridge but failing to reach the true summit. The oft-attempted, nearly 5,000-foot rock ridge wasclimbed to the true summit earlier this summer by a Ukrainian trio, whobypassed the bottom third of the ridge via a ledge system on the east faceduring their successful attempt. Previous attempts, beginning in 2001, had made it about halfway up the climb.

In an email from Pakistan, Cordes said he and Wharton climbed the ridge all-free at about 5.11+ M5 “with two many R’s to bother listing”; the second jumared with the pair’s pack. They completed the climb in three days, using a fourth day to descend. At the sub-summit, “our footwear selection cost us,” Cordes wrote, “since we counted on soft snow on the summit ridge but instead found a few inches of snow covering hard ice. To save weight we’d brought lightweight boots for the leader and low-top sneakers for the second … [and] the traverse across a col and broad slope to the main summit seemed too dangerous for us. So, in a rare display of good judgment … we bailed from there.”

As previous parties have discovered, the North Ridge of Shingu Charpa may indeed be one of the world’s most stunning rock lines, but, Cordes wrote, “in climbing reality it’s a festering pile, with serious runouts, vegetation, closed cracks, mud, and loose blocks. A serious contender for the world’s worst free climb, I think.”Comment on this story