Pakistan 2013: Summer Climbing Season Ends

800px Gasherbrum group

It has been a very long and difficult climbing season in Pakistan punctuated with several tragic accidents and the brutal murders of eleven people in Base Camp on Nanga Parbat. Those events have only made an already difficult year for the mountaineering community even tougher and I’m sure many are eager to put 2013 behind them. While I was away at Outdoor Retailer last week, most of the teams that remained in the Karakoram were busy packing up their gear and making the trek back to Askole where they could catch a ride to Skardu. But not everyone had wrapped up their expeditions for the season and some were still attempting to top out. Now it seems that the season truly is finished as the last of the holdouts pull the plug on their expeditions as well.

Most of the remaining climbing attempts were taking place on Gasherbrum I and II where several teams were hoping to make late summit attempts. Amongst them was Jon Kedrowski, whose team was hoping to top out on GII sometime in the next few days. It turns out that won’t be possible as warm conditions have led to unstable snow, while high winds have managed to shut off access to the upper slopes. In his latest dispatch, Jon says that he and his teammates were the only ones left on the mountain but it is too unsafe to make any more attempts, so they will now depart Gasherbrum II without summiting.

According to ExWeb a Czech team was attempting to summit GI last week but there is no word yet on whether or not they were successful. Part of the team was going up the standard route while another group were taking on a new route on the Southwest Face. Whether or not they are still on the mountain remains to be seen, but considering how late in the season we are, it seems likely that they’ll be packing for home soon as well.

ExWeb also indicates that there has been some success on Pakistani mountains that aren’t above 8000 meters in height as well. For instance, Rafał Sławiński and Ian Welsted managed to top out on K6, a 7040 meter (23,097 ft) peak located in the Masherbrum Range. It is the first ascent of that mountain since it was first climbed by an Austrian team back in 1970. Also, Denis Veretenin and Eugeny Bashkirtsev have managed to scale Nameless Tower, which is part of the very difficult Trango Towers, in a single 1.5 day push The Towers are high altitude rock climbing at its most difficult as they stretch some 6329 meters (20,764 ft) into the air.

That should just about wrap up the Pakistan climbing season for another summer. Once again, K2 went unclimbed this year while too many good men and women payed the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of the high places of our planet. Lets hope we don’t see another year like this one for a very long time.

Kraig Becker