CHOGOLISA GLACIER

Posted on: December 1, 2005


Extreme climbers, sport climbers, ice specialists, all-around mountaineers: the "UP Project" team—a young group that wants to have fun and to test themselves on mountaineering trips outside of Europe—covers all the ideal terrains of mountaineering's "new age." The first UP Project trip, conceived by me and Agostino Da Polenza, took us to the eastern Karakoram. Last year, Italians Herve Barmasse, Giovanni Pagnoncelli, Nancy Paoletto, Maurizio Giordani, Ezio Marlier and I opened four new routes in the Chogolisa Glacier area (see Alpinist Issue 9, Page 93). This year, as with last year's trip, two weeks before our departure, the Pakistani government denied us permission to go into the Kondus and Saltoro Valleys, so we changed the program and went back to the Chogolisa Glacier.

On June 18 Barmasse, Marlier and Fabio Salini climbed a new 700-meter mixed line, Fast and Furious, on the north face of the unclimbed Peak 5500 in a day. The route featured rock up to 5.7 and a little section of A1 (freed by the second at M6). The trio reached the summit ridge but didn't climb the highest point (a little summit spire ten meters up the ridge) because of bad weather.

On June 22, on the left side of Chogolisa Shield (aka Raven Peak, ca. 5300m), Marlier and Salini opened an eight-pitch new route, Green Tea (5.10c and a little section of A1, one bolt) in a day.

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From June 16 to June 26, Cristian Brenna, Barmasse, Francesca Chenal and I opened Up + Down, a big line on the steepest part of the Chogolisa Shield. The team fixed ropes on the difficult initial 250 meters and placed some bolts on the first pillar with the idea of free climbing the entire route on the next attempt. In six days of climbing, we managed sixteen pitches up to 5.11 and A1 and finished the route on the summit ridge. On July 10 Brenna, belayed by Giovanni Ongaro, freed the route in a day, with difficulties up to 5.12d in the sixth pitch and with many pitches from 5.11 to 5.12. I think it is one of the best and most difficult free ascents in the Karakoram.

From June 24 to 26, Ongaro and Gianluca Bellin climbed the Capucin (ca. 5500m) on Sheep Peak, to the right of Chogolisa Shield. The men spent two nights on the wall, climbing capsule style with portaledges, to establish Duri e Puri, a little (400-meter) but difficult big wall of twelve pitches with difficulties up to 5.10 A2. They finished on the right ridge of this beautiful spire.

On June 28 Barmasse and Pagnoncelli climbed, alpine style, the 800-meter northwest face of an unnamed and virgin ca. 6000-meter peak on the long Farol Peak ridge. Their route featured ice (60 degrees) and a little mixed climbing; only Barmasse reached the highest point of the mountain.

In the last week of the trip, Barmasse, Brenna and I moved to the Charakusa Glacier. After bad rock stopped an attempt on a new route on Iqbal's Wall (climbed in 1998 by me and Villa with the American Galen Rowell) in the final 100 meters, two days later, July 21, our trio repeated the first four pitches of Tasty Talking (5.10+, House-Prezelj-Swenson, 2004), then rappelled into the gully and repeated the classic English Route on the beautiful Naysar Brakk (5200m).

Luca "Rampikino" Maspes, Italy

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