American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Baintha Brakk II (Ogre II) Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1983

Baintha Brakk II (Ogre II) Attempt. Brian Hall, Alan Rouse, Andrew Parkin and I attempted unclimbed Baintha Brakk II or Ogre II (6960 meters, 22,835 feet). It promised to be at least as difficult as Baintha Brakk (Ogre). A British party tried it in 1979 and large Japanese and Korean expeditions subsequently. None scored much success, and one Korean died when ice swept him away in “Death Valley,” the dangerous corridor between the Ogre peaks. Baintha Brakk II is a difficult and complex peak. The west summit is a gigantic Matterhorn-like spire. The east peak is an icy ridge, and between is the central and highest summit, approachable only by devious routes through the lower walls and an extremely long and difficult summit ridge protected by steep towers. The lower reaches were obviously dangerous, making alpine style seem best. Thirty-three porters took our equipment to Base Camp in six days from Dassu. By July 16 we were installed at 15,500 feet. For acclimatization, we attempted Uzun Brakk Spire, a challenging rock spire of about 19,500 feet on the west side of the Uzun Brakk Glacier. A new route was pioneered on July 23 and 24 and we bivouacked within a day of the top. A storm ended the attempt and enforced a dangerous descent by a different unknown route. On July 28 we climbed the ice slopes towards the northwest ridge of the west peak of Baintha Brakk II. After a bivouac, we reached 20,000 feet early in the day after crossing an extremely hazardous hanging glacier, to bivouac in an ice cave we excavated. The next day we proceeded up difficult rock to 20,850 feet, but no bivouac position could be established. This enforced a retreat to the ice cave. The labour on this buttress caused damage to half our supply of rope either through stonefall or razor-edged flakes of rock. Our supplies were too limited to continue, and so on July 31 we retreated, traversing the northwest face and abseiling into the top of Death Valley down steep rock and ice. In this fast descent we were mightily impressed by the immense amount of debris and danger on this route; all wished if possible to avoid it in the future. On August 2 and 3 we investigated the south face but decided that the only possibility was far too steep and threatened by falling ice. The south ridge of the west peak did have some appeal though it was technically of the highest standard. This attempt was delayed when Hall injured a shoulder in a fall near Base Camp; for him further climbing was impossible. On August 6 and 7 we three remaining climbers tried the south ridge of the west peak. Unfortunately the gully leading to it was extremely long and very dangerous. The Japanese had tried this route in expedition style. It took us twelve hours of extremely threatened climbing to reach the ridge and we bivouacked in an exposed position on the corniced ridge. The next day we set off but turned back when one of my crampons disintegrated. With four or five days of difficult climbing ahead, retreat was inevitable. On August 8 we made a dangerous retreat to Base Camp. The only really feasible fast route now seemed to be the north ridge of the central summit, which involved taking our life into our hands in Death Valley. When the weather cleared on August 16, we bivouacked below it and set off in fine conditions early on the 17th. We climbed the corridor quickly before dawn and by six A.M. were almost clear of the dangerous area. Just then, an ice cliff 1000 feet higher collapsed and swept the gully, crashing past within thirty feet. Much chastened, we climbed fast into the safer area ahead. Yet to reach the ridge, we had to climb under ice cliffs with the risk of falls. We decided to retreat. Base Camp was reached that day and vacated on August 21.

Paul Nunn, Alpine Climbing Group

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