A new variation to Camp 2 and a speed ascent on Nanga Parbat

Posted on: August 4, 2022


Francois Franz Cazzanelli and Pietro Picco climbing the Aosta Valley Express variation (AI 90° M6 85°, 1400m) up to Camp 2 (ca. 6000m) on the Kinshofer Route on Nanga Parbat (8125m). [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agencyFrancois "Franz" Cazzanelli and Pietro Picco climbing the Aosta Valley Express variation (AI 90 M6 85, 1400m) up to Camp 2 (ca. 6000m) on the Kinshofer Route on Nanga Parbat (8125m). [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agency

In late June and early July, a group of climbing guides from Italy's Aosta Valley completed a variation to Camp 2 and a speed ascent on Nanga Parbat (8125m).

On June 26, Francois "Franz" Cazzanelli and Pietro Picco established a 1400-meter variation up to Camp 2 on the Kinshofer Route (ca. 6000m) in alpine style in a single push from Base Camp. They called the variation the Aosta Valley Express (AI 90 M6 85). The Kinshofer Route is the mountain's normal route and the two climbers used that line to return to Base Camp.

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On July 4, Cazzanelli summited the Kinshofer Route from Base Camp (4200m) without bottled oxygen in 20 hours, 20 minutes, including a four-hour rest in a prepared tent at Camp 3 (6850m) where met up with his teammates for the summit push. They used fixed ropes up to Camp 3, but there were no fixed lines for the team to use above that point.

A series of press releases indicate that the team waited out a week of heavy snowfall that deposited 1.5 meters of snow at base camp after they first arrived.

A release reads:

As the weather and the conditions of the mountain improved, [Cazzanelli] identified a line for which there was no record, but which looked climbable, leading up to 6000m (Camp 2) where it joins with the more classic Kinshofer Route.

This photo shows the lower third of Nanga Parbat. The Kinshofer Route is drawn in red to the left of the prominent rib and the Aosta Valley Express follows a weakness to the right. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agencyThis photo shows the detail of the terrain on the lower third of Nanga Parbat with the distant summit visible near the top of the frame. The Kinshofer Route is drawn in red to the left of the prominent rib and the Aosta Valley Express follows a weakness to the right. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agency

A climbable route on this kind of mountain is a route that minimizes the danger of serac fall to a tolerable level. This and the snow conditions were the main variables considered, before deciding to commit to the attempt.

The route involves climbing the vertical serac at the base of the route then follows steepening snowfields up to a mixed section that leads onto the ridge that joins with the Kinshofer route, totaling 1800 [meters] of climbing at an altitude where lack of oxygen forced very slow climbing.

Aosta Valley Express. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agencyAosta Valley Express. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agency

Aosta Valley Express. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agencyAosta Valley Express. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agency

Aosta Valley Express. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agencyAosta Valley Express. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agency

Aosta Valley Express. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agencyAosta Valley Express. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agency

Alpinist asked for more detail about the objective hazards and Cazzanelli responded through a press agent via email:

"Aosta Valley Express: we think no one considered the route in the past as the serac at the base was more dangerous. It is a direct route to Camp 2 and potentially up to Camp 3. The route climbs the serac for the first 150 meters then moves onto steepening ice-snow slopes. We found the slopes to be safe early in the morning on the day of the climb, [then] they became icier the following days with more potential for rocks falling. So it is a route that is safe in early morning and snowy conditions."

Cazzanelli on the summit of Nanga Parbat on July 4, 20 hours and 20 minutes after leaving base camp. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agencyCazzanelli on the summit of Nanga Parbat on July 4, 20 hours and 20 minutes after leaving base camp. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agency

Another press release describes Cazzanelli's speed ascent:

Franz set off alone, on July 3 at 11:30 a.m..... After 8 hours he had made it to Camp 3 (6,850m), where he rested for four hours in a pre-prepared tent with the rest of his team. The tent had been left there by Franz a few days earlier on his final acclimatization round.

At [11:30 p.m.] on July 3, Franz began his summit push from C3, together with Jerome Perruquet and Cesar Rosales. After 8 hours and 20 minutes, at 7:50 a.m. on the morning of July 4, they stood on the summit together.

They were joined a short time later by Pietro Picco and then the remaining members of the expedition team—Roger Bovard, Emrik Favre and Marco Camandona—all reached the summit at 10.30am. The whole team climbed without supplemental oxygen.

The expedition team. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agencyThe expedition team. [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agency

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