Women's Team Pioneers Pakistani Free Route

By Dougald MacDonald ,

The Partition (TD 5.10b, 900 meters) reaches a subsummit below Latok III in the Karakoram Range. The buttress to the left is climbed by the Indian Face Arête (5.10 A3). At least two variations to the Indian Face Arête have been climbed, but all have involved some aid climbing. A free ascent awaits!

The Anglo-Canadian team of Luisa Giles, Sarah Hart, and Jacqueline Hudson has established a 3,000-foot free route on a 17,000-foot rock spire near the base of Latok III in Pakistan. The three women completed The Partition (TD 5.10b, 900 meters) on their third attempt in a three-day round trip from base camp on the Choktoi Glacier. The trio climbed the east face of the right-hand of two twin buttresses, with 19 pitches and about 300 meters of simul-climbing. They opted to end their climb at a subpeak, about 100 horizontal meters away from the highest point, because the traverse to the slightly higher peak would have required loose, unpleasant climbing and a different descent than planned.

During the climb, the team found two old rap slings, indicating the possibility that a previous party had climbed the peak. However, they believe it is very unlikely that the line they followed had been done before. (In 1997, the American Alpine Journal reported, a British team climbed “an arête on one of the rock buttresses of Latok III over two days, finding climbing up to E2 5c [5.10] on good granite.” It’s possible the new route shares some pitches with this climb on the upper arête.) The women’s team named their route in honor of the 60th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence, and also because a Sandy Allan and Doug Scott route from 1990, the Indian Face Arête (5.10 A3),is situated on the adjacent rock buttress—an apt metaphor for the geography and politics of India and Pakistan.

Sarah Hart finds beautiful granite on the crux pitch of The Partition.

This team was backed by the Alpine Club of Canada through the Jen Higgens Memorial Grant, Mountain Equipment Coop, and the Mount Everest Fund.

Date of Ascent: Summer 2007

Sources: Jacqueline Hudson, American Alpine Journal

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Luisa Giles (front) and Sarah Hart in Kaplu, Baltistan.

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