Polish-British Hindu Kush Expedition

Climb Year: N/A. Publication Year: 1978.

An eleven-man expedition climbed in the Hindu Kush under the leadership of Andrzej Zawada. There were six Poles, four British and one American. They were divided into two groups. Group I climbed in the Mandaras valley, with Base Camp at 14,100 feet. This group was composed of Terry King, Peter Holden and Howard Lancashire, English; Zawada, Piotr Jasinski, Robert Janik, Marek Kowalczyk and toward the end Jan Wolf. On July 31 and August 1 Jasinski and Kowalczyk climbed from the east to the col between M9 and M10 and on August 2 and 3 to the summit of M9 (20,013 feet; Wala Peak 126) by the northeast spur, an ice and rock route. On August 2 to 4 Janik and Zawada repeated the climb. On August 1 and 2 King and Zawada climbed a new rock route on M5 (19,929 feet; Wala Peak 135), the west ridge. They descended the north ridge. On August 10 to 14 King and Zawada made another new route on rock and ice on Kohe Mandaras (21,746 feet; Wala Peak 129), the 5000-foot-high north face. They were followed to the summit eight hours later by Kowalczyk and Jasinski. They all descended the west face. On August 13 and 14 Holden and Lancashire climbed the 3500-foot-high center spur* of the northwest face of M7 (20,617 feet; Wala Peak 132). They descended the north ridge. On August 17 to 19 Wolf and Janik climbed the normal route on Noshaq (24,580 feet). Meanwhile Group II, composed of Wojciech Kurtyka, Jan Wolf, Poles, John Porter, American, and Alex MacIntyre, British, climbed in the Bandaka region from the Zidghan valley. Base Camp was at 13,775 feet at the base of the east face of Kohe Bandaka. All four climbed a new route on the ridge between P 4977 and M4 and then along the southeast ridge toward Kohe Bandaka to 19,700 feet. Wolf fell sick and they had to descend. They traversed Kohe Zerekho (19,380 feet) and Kohe Nol (18,350 feet) to the Zerekho Glacier.

On August 9, the remaining three minus Wolf set out on a six-day alpine-style ascent of the 8000-foot-high northeast face of Kohe Bandaka (22,450 feet). The rock and ice face was from 55° to 67° and swept by rockfall and ice avalanches. They reached the summit on August 14 and descended the southeast ridge. [Editor’s note: We are also very grateful to John Porter for the following more detailed account of the climb, which we quote here. “This route resembles a gargantuan Eiger North Face of 8000 feet. The danger from falling rock was extreme at times, but overall the route was an excellent mixed climb with difficulties up to F8 on rock and with a number of sérac and cornice problems. The third day gave the most sustained climbing in a 1000-foot-high chimney which we named the “Cyclotron” for the speed at which things fell down it. The last three days provided good climbing and much sounder rock than in the bottom half, though the rock was never better than the Canadian Rockies variety. The final day was entirely on ice and we climbed through the summit cornice to land directly on top.”—John Porter.]

Jerzy Wala, Klub Wysokogórski, Kraków, Poland

*The British route was a completely new one. The Spanish climb noted below was on the spur well left on the central spur and led to the north ridge about halfway up.