IMPRESSIVE ASCENT IN THE BALTORO

Posted on: October 11, 2006


A large Spanish-Catalan team comprising Antonio Bayones, Oscar Cadiach, Ramon Canyellas, Elias Coll, Pilar Rossinyol, Albert Segura and Toti Vales climbed a big new rock route on the Baltoro Cathedrals, a complex collection of rocky tops overlooking the Baltoro Glacier in Pakistan's Karakoram and rising above the east bank of the lower Dunge Glacier opposite the Trango Group. The route, named Reflexes Nocturns, has a vertical height gain of nearly 1500 meters, an all free grade of 5.11d and can be conveniently described in four parts. In the first the difficulties are relatively moderate with plenty of 5.5 to 5.7 but a crux of 5.10d. Above, the terrain becomes much easier for 300 meters (scrambling and sections of 5.3) and leads to the upper section of the wall, where difficulties steadily increase. The crux 11d pitch is situated quite near the top. This wall finishes at around 5500 meters, from where 300 meters of scrambling lead to the summit at ca. 5800 meters, which the Catalans reached in mid July.

The first climb recorded in this group was most likely that by Jim Beyer, who in 1989 soloed a huge, 54-pitch line off the Dunge Glacier to the summit of Thunmo (5866m), which lies south of the ca. 5800-meter Cathedral Spire. His impressive 13-day ascent was graded VII 5.10d A4+. It is unclear exactly which summit was reached by the Catalans.

Born in 1952, Cadiach is perhaps Catalonia's best-known Himalayan climber. He was the first Spanish mountaineer to summit Everest from both north and south sides, climbed new routes on Broad Peak Central (from China) and Cho Oyu, and in 2004 retreated from high on K2 in an attempt to make the second ascent of the Magic Line. Vales, who is in charge of the Spanish Federation Sport Climbing, last year made the first ascent of a 1000-meter wall in Norway via an all-free route with a crux of 5.13c.

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