New Route on Uli Biaho Tower

Uli Biaho Tower in the Baltoro region of Pakistan.

Uli Biaho Tower in the Baltoro region of Pakistan. The new route climbed a long snow and ice gully to the foot of the left side of the upper tower, and then traversed onto the face behind the left arête and climbed the face for 18 pitches to the top. Photo courtesy of Ragni di Lecco.

8/17/13 - Three Italian climbers have completed a new route on Uli Biaho Tower in Pakistan, the spectacular 20,043-foot granite needle first climbed by Americans Bill Forrest, Ron Kauk, John Roskelley, and Kim Schmitz in 1979, a landmark big-wall ascent in the high Karakoram.

Matteo Della Bordella, Luca Schiera, and Silvan Schüpbach climbed the southwest face of the tower: 18 pitches up a steep rock wall after a long snow and ice approach couloir. The three men, all members of the famed Ragni di Lecco climbing club (Cassin Ridge on Denali, west face of Cerro Torre, etc.), first tried a line left of the south arête on the tower (first climbed by an Italian team in 1988), well to the left of the American line on the southeast face. But bad weather sent them back to base camp after two days of climbing.

Returning up the approach gully, they completed a complex traverse onto the southwest face and then climbed the new route all free and onsight (up to 5.10+), except for one pitch that was running with water. After a second bivouac near the base of the route, they made it safely back to base camp. Despite being the fourth route found up Uli Biaho, Della Bordella later said this was likely the easiest and most "logical" way up the peak.

Earlier in the expedition, Schiera and Schüpbach climbed the Slovenian Route on Trango Tower and the normal route up Great Trango Tower.

Dates of ascents: July 2013

Source: Ragni di Lecco, American Alpine Journal