Two Big New Routes in Pakistan

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Climbing during the first ascent of Hassan Peak (6,300m) in Pakistan's Charakusa Valley. Photo courtesy of Hayden Kennedy

Climbing during the first ascent of Hassan Peak (6,300m) in Pakistan

The new Slovenian route on the northwest face of K7 West (6,934m) in Pakistan. Photo courtesy of Expedition Charakusa 2011

The new Slovenian route on the northwest face of K7 West (6,934m) in Pakistan. Photo courtesy of Expedition Charakusa 2011

10/4/11 - A Slovenian team climbed a major new route on K7 West in Pakistan's Charakusa Valley this summer, while an American duo made the first ascent of a ca. 6,300-meter (20,670') peak in the valley.

Slovenians Nejc Marčič and Luka Stražar climbed the second route to the summit of K7 West (6,934m/22,749'), making only the third ascent of the dramatic peak. The two young climbers did the 5,200-foot new route on the northwest face, during a four-day, alpine-style round trip in early September, and called it Sanjači zlatih jam ("The Dreamers of Golden Caves"), VI 5 M5 A2. The lower part of the route was mostly ice, and the upper section required rock and mixed climbing; during the second day, they managed only 250 meters of climbing on very difficult terrain.

K7 West was first climbed in 2007, via its southeast face, by the American-Slovenian team of Vince Anderson, Steve House, and Marko Prezelj. Their route was repeated the following year by a Slovenian trio.

Meanwhile, Americans Kyle Dempster and Hayden Kennedy did the first ascent of a significant peak in the Charakusa Valley, the 6,300-meter summit commonly known as Hassan Peak. After acclimatizing on Nayser Brakk and Sulu Peak (climbed with the Slovenian expedition), Dempster and Kennedy climbed the west face of Hassan Peak in a three-day round trip, finding difficulties up to WI5 M5.

Near the top, on the third morning of the climb, a 60-meter overhanging serac blocked the way up the ridge line. "At first we thought that we were going to get shut down," Kennedy said in an email. "We down-climbed to the right and climbed out the right side of the serac. A super-cool ice pitch with sections of overhanging ice gained the upper snow slopes to the summit. We were back in base camp that night eating cake with our friends."

Dates of ascents: September 2011

Sources: Zdenka Mihelič, Hayden Kennedy, thebmc.co.uk, American Alpine Journal