KARAKORAM DEVELOPMENT CONTINUES

Posted on: October 26, 2006


On the first ascent of the new Polish route, Let's Go Home (5.12b C1, 670m, Ciesielski-Radziejowski-Zakrzewski, 2006) on the south-southwest face of the First Tower on the southwest (Severence) ridge of Trango II. Behind and on the far side of the Trango Glacier is the spectacular Uli Biaho Tower (6109m). The upper (east-facing) rock pillar was climbed on the first ascent of the spire in 1979 by Bill Forrest, Ron Kauk, John Roskelly and Kim Schmitz at VII 5.8 A4, while the steep ice smears on the north face to the right were climbed in 2006 by Gabo Cmarik and Dodo Copold at VI/6. [Photo] Jakub Radziejowski

The last couple of years have seen the Trango Glacier establish itself as perhaps the world's preeminent alpine-rock playground. Climbing Trango Tower (6239m; see Alpinist 11's Mountain Profile for complete route details) has become a far more accessible goal since the Pakistan government, forced to realize the long-term implications of restrictive regulations, raised the altitude, below which peaks in open areas would be free of royalty and cumbersome liaison officer services, to 6500 meters. In addition to climbs detailed earlier this month in NewsWire, a group of talented Polish rock climbers was also active in the area and despite largely unsettled weather, which stopped Maciej Ciesielski and Jakub Radziejowski 19 pitches up Eternal Flame (VI 5.12c A0, 35 pitches, Albert-Gullich-Stiegler-Sykora, 1989) on Trango Tower, managed three new routes, one of them most likely to the top of a previously virgin summit.

On September 5, Ciesielski, Radziejowski and Wawrzyniec Zakrzewski made the first ascent of PIA (5.11c A0, 540m) on the tower immediately left (northwest) of Garda Peak (ca. 4700m). The route climbs the west face with difficulities up to 5.11c on sight and an A0 pendulum from a crack chocked with mud. The rock was pretty good overall and the line could provide a fine warm-up for parties coming to the region to climb bigger things. The Poles named the (probably) unclimbed summit Garden Peak, partially in homage to the neighbouring tower, Garda, which was first climbed in September 2004 by Slovenians Tomaz Jakofcic, Klemen Mali and Miha Vali via a route they named Karakoram Khush (5.10d A0, 300m), but more because of its rather rich vegetation.

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On the 17th the same three put up a new route on what is now referred to as Sadu Peak, after the first route climbed on this ca. 4400-meter tower situated just 10 minutes above base camp (Sadu: 5.11b, 300m, Antoine and Sandrine de Choudens, 2003). Pretty Close was climbed at 5.10d and proved a little longer than the other two routes on this formation, with 430 meters of climbing on sound granite with several fine pitches.

On the following day the Poles climbed a new route on the first tower of the southwest (Severence) ridge of 6327-meter Trango II. Let's Go Home has about 200 meters of new ground before it joins the Severence Ridge (VI 5.11 A2 AI 3 M5, 63 pitches, Clearwater-Frimer-Johnson, 2005), up which it continues to the easy ground just below the summit of the tower (a total of 670 meters of climbing). It was not only one of the most demanding routes the Poles have ever done, but also a superb outing on granite almost as good as that found on Trango Tower. The crux, a pitch of 12b, was only climbed with rests, but another, graded 11d, was climbed on sight. There was a short section of C1. Some fellow countrymen also climbed the Severence Ridge to the summit of the first tower at 5.11d and A0, creating a variant to the lower section (they were unaware at the time that the ridge had been climbed) and repeated Oceano Trango (5.10b, 300m), on the Base Camp Slabs.

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