Summer Climbing Season in Pakistan Begins

ExWeb has posted an update to the start of the summer 2017 climbing season in Pakistan, where things are going about as well as expected so far as teams begin to trickle into the country. In fact, some of the early arrivals have already reached Base Camp as they prepare for some big challenges ahead.

Nanga Parbat is open for business again this year and will welcome a couple of different teams. Alberto Zerain and Mariano Galvan headed to Pakistan from Nepal, and hope to take advantage of the fact that they have already acclimatized on Annapurna and Lhotse respectively.

They’re on their way to the mountain already where they hope to take on the very difficult Mazeno Ridge route, which includes eight peaks above 6000 meters (19,685 ft).

Over on the Diamir Face two teams will be attempting Nanga Parbat as well. The Dreamers Destination squad has already reached BC and are getting settled there, while a Korean team is currently in Islamabad and preparing to depart for the mountains in the next few days.

A team of international climbers that includes Grace McDonald is already en route to Broad Peak. The team is trekking in the Concordia region now and are expected to have a rest day today before proceeding on tomorrow.

They’ll soon be joined by a number of other teams as the month goes on, as BP serves as an acclimatization mountain for nearby K2, with some alpinists looking for the double-header this summer by first warming up on Broad Peak then moving over to the technically much more difficult K2.

Speaking of K2, ExWeb reports that Polish climber Andrezej Bargiel will attempt to summit that mountain and ski back down. The site also indicates that Spanish mountaineer Oscar Cadiach is headed to the mountain as well with the hopes of summiting without the use of bottled oxygen. If successful, he’ll have done so on all 14 of the 8000 meter peaks. He has just left home yesterday and should arrive in Pakistan sometime today.

Finally, several squads have also turned their attention to the Gasherbrums, with a trio of Spaniards (Alberto Inurrategi, Juan Vallejo, and Mikel Zabalza) hoping to make a traverse of GI and GII in alpine style. They made the same attempt last year but were turned back due to poor weather conditions. The three men are reportedly already in Skardu and preparing to set out for the mountains soon.

ExWeb says Czech climber Marek Holecek is back on Gasherbrum I to attempt the Southwest Face, a route he has been working on for several years now. He’ll be joined on that mountain by several commercial teams as well.

As you can see, the season is just starting to ramp up, but there should be plenty of action for us to follow in the days ahead. Of particular interest will be K2, which is always extremely difficult thanks to the technical challenges it presents coupled with the extremely poor weather conditions that are typical there. It should be interesting to see if the mountain will be more accessible this year.

Kraig Becker