AAC Supports Two Cutting-Edge Expeditions

2016 Lyman Spitzer Awards Back Climbs in India and Pakistan
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2016 Lyman Spitzer Awards Back Climbs in India and Pakistan

The American Alpine Club’s annual Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Awards will go to two teams planning difficult, exploratory climbs in India and Pakistan.

The Shigralas

The unclimbed Shigrilas in northern India, last attempted in 1991. Photo from 1961 expedition report.

• Chris Wright and Tico Gangulee will travel next fall to the Kullu Himalaya, an off-the-radar range in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The two men hope to attempt a pair of unclimbed 6,000-meter-plus peaks called the Shigrilas, as well as an unnamed 5,500-meter peak. Wright said he was inspired by a photo in Stephen Venables and Andy Fanshawe’s Himalaya Alpine Style “of an amazing wall that looked like something out of the Ruth Gorge.” Further digging led to the unclimbed Shigrilas and other objectives. The two plan to spend six or seven weeks on the expedition.

Link Sar West (left) and Link Sar.

Link Sar West (left) showing the 2015 Griffith-Houseman route (red) and descent. Unclimbed Link Sar is the high point to the right. Photo by Jon Griffith.

• Rob Duncan, Jesse Mease, and Marcos Costa will try for a bold doubleheader in the Karakoram this summer. First, they will attempt to summit 7,041-meter Link Sar from the Charakusa Glacier. Last summer, Britons Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman climbed 6,938-meter Link Sar West (on Griffith’s fourth year of attempts), but the main summit of this wild peak has never been climbed. Next the team will move to the Choktoi Glacier and try to complete the northwest ridge of 6,960-meter Ogre II (Baintha Brakk II), a route nearly climbed by Costa and Mease in 2015. During a six-day attempt, the two got within about 250 vertical meters of the top. The mountain is believed to have been climbed only once, by a Korean team in 1983.

The AAC’s Lyman Spitzer grants promote state-of-the-art, cutting-edge climbing by small, lightweight teams. "The committee was especially impressed with this year's objectives and team strengths," said committee chair Paul Gagner. “The two teams chosen represent the spirit and intent of the award, and the AAC is very happy to support their dreams."