Huge New Route on Great Trango

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Americans Kelly Cordes and Josh Wharton have made a bold, alpine-style first ascent of the enormous Southwest Ridge of Great Trango Tower (20,617 feet) in Pakistan. The mostly rock ridge rises more than 7,000 feet to the west summit of Great Trango. Cordes and Wharton started the climb with a single 28-pound pack, two ropes and no bolt kit, and they succeed in four and a half days, the last two without water. They descended via the peak’s north glacier just before a storm hit. “It felt incredibly committing, with the hardest climbing coming up high,” Cordes said. “With the traverses and pendulums and runouts, it would have been pretty difficult to reverse. “Josh deserves full credit,” Cordes added. “He did some of the boldest and finest climbing I’ve ever seen, and 7,000 feet off the deck no less. The altitude seems to have no effect on him.” The two named the route the Azeem Ridge (5.11 R/X, A2, M6) after an Urdu word that means “great” — “both in terms of stature or size and more importantly as a greeting of fondness and respect between friends, which accurately, in a word, describes our feelings about the wonderful people we met in the northern areas of Pakistan,” Cordes explained. The Southwest Ridge of Great Trango was attempted in 1990 by a Spanish team using fixed ropes and high camps. In 2000, Americans Tim O’Neill and Miles Smart nearly succeeded with an alpine-style attempt, reaching a point about 500 feet below the west summit after five days of climbing, before a storm forced a nerve-wracking 17-hour descent.

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