TWO NEW ROUTES ON GREAT TRANGO'S NORTHWEST FACE

Posted on: July 27, 2007


The 2000m northwest face of Great Trango (6286m, though only the southwest summit, 6250m, is visible). The red line is the new Krasnoyarsk route (VI 5.11 A4, 2000m, Arkhipov-Cherezov-Glazyrin-Khvostenko-Litvinov-Yanushevich, 2007), which was climbed to within two and half pitches of the southwest summit in 2003 by a team from Odessa, Ukraine. The bottom section of the route is hidden by the foreground buttress. The blue route was also climbed by a Krasnoyarsk team at the same time (2000m, Belyaev-Loginov-Kommissarov-Mikhalicyn, 2007) but no grade has so far been quoted. [Photo] Dodo Kopold

A team of young climbers from the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, completed two first ascents on the huge northwest face of Great Trango (6286m), Pakistan Karakoram, one of the biggest rock walls in the world. From July 7-12, Evgeny Belyaev, Igor Loginov, Alexey Kommissarov and Alexander Mikhalicyn climbed new ground close to the original Russian Direct (VII 5.11 A4, 2000m, 66 pitches and 2750m of climbing, Koshelenko-Odintsov- Potankin-Samiolenko, 1999) as far as the base of the headwall, then moved up and right to gain the crest of the southwest ridge. The two upper steps of this ridge were then climbed to one of the initial tops (the so-called west summit) on the long, crenallated, quasi-horizontal ridge leading to the southwest summit (6250m). Climbing through less than perfect weather, with periods of heavy rain and strong winds, the four Russians climbed 21 pitches to the base of the headwall, where they placed their third portaledge camp. The 10th marked a change to fine weather, allowing the team to progress rapidly on the upper section where they found traces of previous passage (their route must have shared common ground with Azeem Ridge, climbed by Kelly Cordes and Josh Wharton in 2004, but the equipment found by the Russians is most likely the fixed ropes, bolts etc left by Guillermo Banales, Fernando Cabo, Jon Lazkano and Maximo Murcia, who climbed the ridge to within seventeen pitches of the southwest summit in 1990). On July 12 the four Russians received a less than promising weather forecast, so leaving much of their equipment at the bivouac site, they opted to make a dash for the top. The storm had already moved in when they reached the west summit, so despite base camp's radio advice that they ought to have a night's rest on the mountain before returning the following day, the four decided to abandon some of their gear and make a rapid descent down their route to basecamp, which they reached late that night. Although no grade has so far been quoted, the climb is reported to be 75% free.

In the meantime, Vladimir Arkhipov, Serguey Cherezov, Yuri Glazyrin, Oleg Khvostenko, Andrey Litvinov and Alexander Yanushevich were on the left side of the face, attempting to complete the line climbed to within a handshake of the summit ridge in 2003 by the Odessa team of Alexander Lavrinenko, Vladimir Mogila, Vital Yarichveski and Alexey Zhilin. These four, climbing in capsule style, had taken around twenty days to reach their high point, finding the line up the prominent pillar below the hanging glacier to be surprisingly devoid of features and sporting very dirty cracks, which meant only one third of the route could be climbed free. The headwall was covered in ice and because the route took much longer than anticipated, the team was forced to abandon the climb just 100 vertical meters below the summit (an estimated two and a half pitches). At this point they had established nine portaledge camps but now completely had run out of food and fuel. Maximum difficulties on the forty-six pitches climbed were 5.11 and A4.

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The six Russians started up the route on July 6 and finally reached the top on July 16. They made five camps and took a total of eleven days instead of the planned two weeks. For one and a half of those days they were confined to the portaledges due to bad weather. By July 14, Cherezov and Khvostenko had more or less forced the route to the summit ridge through a particularly nasty spell of weather bad weather, and the team could only hope as they sat out a storm on the next day. But that night the clouds parted, the next morning was fine, and the team managed to summit, regaining base camp on July 17 after having removed their equipment. This was only part one of the expedition for the young Russians on their first trip to the Himalaya-Karakoram. By July 22 they were at Broad Peak (8047m) basecamp and getting ready for an attempt on this 8000er.

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