7/31/12 – Hayden Kennedy, Kyle Dempster, and the Slovenian Urban Novak have completed a new route up the east face of the 6,934-meter K7 in Pakistan.The team arrived in July, acclimatizing on nearby Sulu Peak (5,950 meters). They began climbing K7 on July 17 on snow, mixed ground, and ice, passing their highpoint from their 2011 attempt. They bivied sans sleeping bags, then continued upward on July 18. Deteriorating weather slowed the team down, along with unexpected pitches of up to M6, but they reached the summit without incident.
“After reaching an impassable rock section and making one rappel to explore another way, Hayden and I each led one consecutive M6 pitch and with great relief found a small snow ledge where we were able to dig and chop a place to sit for a few hours,” Dempster said in an email to Black Diamond. The trio shared two sleeping bags and one ground pad. On the way to the summit, Novak led about 200 yards in waist-deep snow. They returned to base camp on July 20 after another open bivy on the route.
“Some climbers in the past have sought out the summit of K7 as a means to their salvation,” Dempster said. “For us, the summit felt anti-climactic and was merely a place to begin 10 hours of rappelling. The process of climbing K7 was where we found our fulfillment, most specifically climbing with our Slovenian friend and his calm wisdom when the shit was hitting the fan. Late in the afternoon on our first day of climbing, conditions were grim, we were tired, cold, and snow pelted our faces. The route ahead was unclear, and the three of us spoke about our options for bailing, which was when Urban commented, ‘But this is what we came for. We knew it would be this way. We must continue.’ Urban’s words made the stark misery of the situation seem manageable. After all, K7 was our choice.”
Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Brady Robinson attempted the east face in 2001, followed by another attempt in 2007, this time by Kelly Cordes and Scott DeCapio.
See an email report by Kyle Demster here.
Dates of ascents: July 17–20, 2012