Huge Free Climbs in Pakistan

By Dougald MacDonald ,

The Badal Wall, with the Belgian-Polish route marked. The team freed all but 15 feet of the 4,000-foot wall, aiding an icy crack that “would not be an issue to free in good condition.” Photo by Nicolas Favresse.

A small Belgian-Polish team completed three free or mostly free routes on huge walls in the Charakusa Valley of Pakistan, near the base of massive K7 and K7 West. The two biggest routes required diametrically opposite styles: a big-wall siege and a lightning-fast single-push blitz.

The two-month expedition included Belgians Nicolas and Olivier Favresse and Sean Villanueva, backed by the Club Alpin Belge–Rock Climbing Team, along with Adam Pustelnik from Poland. Their first success was a 4,000-foot wall that started very close to base camp at 13,750 feet, amid the complex towers at the foot of K7 West. Over 16 days (including seven days stuck in portaledges in storms), they free-climbed all but 15 feet of icy crack on the “Badal Wall.” The climb went at 7c (5.12d) and reached the top of the rock wall at around 19,700 feet. The team fixed eight pitons and 12 bolts, only one of which was used to protect free climbing. A very poor forecast and limited food led them to descend from the end of the rock climbing, about 1,000 feet of snow climbing below the tower’s summit.

Nafees Cap, with the summit of 22,750-foot K7 to the right. The team blitzed up and down the all-free, 5.12+ route in a 37-hour push. Photo by Olivier Favresse.

Next they climbed a prominent 3,250-foot granite spire detached from the south flank of K7. They had attempted the route early in the expedition but were stymied by a crux passage after 10 pitches. Now superbly acclimatized, they went for it in lightweight style. After 27 hours of climbing, they reached the summit at approximately 19,700 feet at 7 a.m., having free-climbed the entire route. Ledgeway to Heaven went at 5.12d and covered 28 pitches, including two simul-climbing sections hundreds of feet long. They placed one bolt and fixed a single piton on the route, and they returned to base camp after a 37-hour round trip. The team named the spire Nafees Cap in honor of their Pakistani guide.

(Earlier reports about this expedition mistakenly reported that the team climbed K7 itself.)

A few days before leaving base camp, Nico Favresse, Villanueva, and another Polish friend, JurasStefanski, climbed an eight-pitch new route on the 1,300-foot “Iqbal Wall.” They called the new line The Ski Track (5.11).

The Ski Track (5.11) on Iqbal Wall, climbed all-free in a day. Photo by Adam Pustelnik.

This expedition was sponsored by the Belgian Alpine club, Cab Brabant,, Seeonee, Bleau, Julbo, and UPMM. The expedition website is, and Nico Favresse’s website is

Dates of Ascents:July-August 2007

Source: Nicolas Favresse,

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