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SKI MOUNTAINEERING WINDFALL IN PAKISTAN'S KARAKORAM
Posted on: August 1, 2007
Skiing from the summit of a previously unclimbed peak in the Shimshal region of the northwest Karakoram, Pakistan. A five-man French expedition led by Christian Trommsdorff made four first ascents here in the spring. Trommsdorff put the trip to good use: well acclimatized, he later made the first ascent of Pumari Chish South (7350m) with Yannick Graziani. [Photo] Bruno Paulet
Before making the first ascent of Pumari Chish South (7350m) with Yannick Graziani, Christian Trommsdorff led a small group of experienced clients to Pakistan's Shimshal region, with the goal of making first ascents and ski descents. Hoping to profit from fine spring snow conditions, the team chose to visit Pakistan from April 21 - May 7. In fact there was surprisingly little snow, locals confirming that the winter had been relatively dry and spring was about one month earlier this year (these conditions would later prove helpful to Trommsdorff on Pumari Chish). Valley floors were completely dry save for parts of the river bed, and the snowline was generally higher than 4500 meters (winter snowline in northwest Karakoram almost never drops below 3500m).
After hiring twenty porters in Shimshal Village, Bruno Dupety, Sylvain Granaud, Bruno Paulet, Philippe Yvon and Trommsdorff made a two-day walk, first east along the main valley and then north to a base camp at 4350 meters (N 36 degrees 32' 26.38"; E 75 degrees 34' 40.95" GPS) in the Ganj'dur (a.k.a. Ganj-i-Tang) valley.
In six days the team was able to make the first ascent of four peaks. The first, due west of base camp, was 5882 meters (as measured by GPS) but the summit was a large cornice and the team stopped ten meters below the highest point. The second, northeast of base, had a rocky top measured at 5892 meters (GPS), while the summit of the third, due north, was only reached by Trommsdorff, who recorded a height of 6050 meters on his altimeter. The fourth, immediately southeast of base, was dubbed Papy's Peak (5544m as measured by GPS).
Temperatures during the team's trip were mild—ca. -5 degrees C at night, and never cold on the summits. The lowest height at which skis and skins were donned was 4700 meters, but there the snow was extremely heavy and mushy, even in early morning. The team completed this innovative and successful expedition by trekking back to Shimshal in one long and strenuous day.
Skinning up an unclimbed sub-6000-meter peak in the Northwest Karakoram. The first ascent was one of four made by a small French expedition in the spring. Nearly all the peaks in the background are unclimbed. [Photo] Bruno Paulet