American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Diran Ascent, Nanga Parbat Attempt and Other Peaks near the Karakoram Highway

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1986

Diran Ascent, Nanga Parbat Attempt and Other Peaks near the Karakoram Highway. We left Britain on June 18, hoping to climb rock pinnacles in Hunza, the Rakaposhi north face and Nanga Parbat from the south. We failed on all of these but did climb Diran and several minor summits. Basically heat and disease severely weakened us, a situation exacerbated by being constantly on the move with four different Base Camps and also, to a lesser extent, by porter troubles. After travelling up the Karakoram Highway, we reached Karimabad on June 30, where we split into two groups. My son Michael Scott, Alastair Reid and Icelander Snaevar Guomundson went up into the Passu Glacier area. Mark Miller, Sean Smith, American Stephen Sustad, Australian Greg Child, Pakistani Nazir Sabir and I went up to camp three hours above Karimabad on a pasture at 8000 feet by the Ultar Glacier. After waiting for fresh snow to clear, all but Nazir in two days climbed a steep dangerous couloir to a col beneath Bubli-Mo-Tin(6000 meters), a 3000-foot rock pinnacle southwest of Bojohaghur Asir. General lethargy prevailed as everyone had diarrhea and Child was passing blood. Sustad and I climbed a minor peak to the south of our col. We retreated, dodging stonefall, down the couloir. Nazir, his Japanese fiancée Fumi and our cook Mohammed narrowly escaped a huge avalanche on a goat path above Base Camp. Many goats were not so lucky. Temperatures were at midday 40° C. and remained high for weeks. In the Hunza Valley it reached 47° C. The Passu team returned also suffering from the heat and infection. We moved our gear to Minapin and set off for Diran. After five hours of walking spread over two days, we camped beneath the northeast ridge of Rakaposhi in the ablation valley by the Minapin Glacier at 8000 feet. The 51 Nagar porters demanded £750 for this carry, some of which we agreed to pay then and we said we’d discuss the rest with the local police chief on our return. An ugly incident ensued with their threatening us with strikes. Knowing that some German trekkers had previously been murdered by Nagars on a nearby glacier, we paid up. Later, Nazir, who was fighting a long court case in Islamabad, went down and en route reported the incident. Subsequently seven Nagars were put in jail. Periodically we were visited by the police and local leaders, who informed us the prisoners would be flogged and possibly jailed for six months. Terry Mooney arrived from Ireland, but an old knee injury put him out of action. He went down to plead for the Nagars on our behalf and succeeded in securing their release. Child, Sustad and Guomundson also departed as their condition became worse. At Base Camp Miller made a fine solo ascent of P 5677, which lies due north of the north col of Diran from the southeast. Icelander Helgi Benediktsson, who had fallen ill on the way in, was now in better health, as were Mark Miller, Michael Scott, Alastair Reid and I. We moved up the Minapin Glacier to camp at 4000 meters. From there we climbed the original route on Diran (7266 meters, 23,840 feet) in a two-day push to the summit. The same route was climbed the day before by Edi Koblmüller’s Austrian expedition. We descended to bivouac some 2000 feet down the west-northwest ridge. Benediktsson had been unable to reach the summit with us and so he went up the following day with an Austrian. Three days later Nazir returned from court to climb with Sean Smith to the summit plateau, but bad weather prevented their reaching the summit. Four of the Aus- trians had climbed the unclimbed east summit of Rakoposhi by the north-northeast ridge; we had planned to go to the main summit this way. Koblmüller staggered into camp late at night telling us that at the end of the difficulties on the descent one of his team had slipped and was in Advance Base with serious head injuries. He asked us to go up with pain killers and do what we could in the way of a rescue whilst the Austrians’ liaison officer want for a helicopter. Early next morning we arrived to find the man had died. We returned to Base Camp just as the helicopter arrived. It was a faultless operation on the part of the liaison officer and the Pakistani Army. We called in at the local courthouse to discuss porter problems. The magistrate agreed, on hearing evidence from the police chief, that the journey to our Base Camp by the Minapin Glacier should be counted as one day from Minapin, less than an eight-hour carry. If this principle were more rigourously applied in this part of the Karakoram, it would be more in line with the cost of porters in Baltistan. We arrived at the Rupal Base Camp for Nanga Parbat on August 12 after a harrowing tractor-jeep ride to the road- head, from where we continued for two days on foot and horseback. On August 15 Alastair Reid, Michael Scott, David Marshall, Nazir, my 12-year-old daughter Martha and I went to the west side of Rupal Peak. After three bivouacs and some Grade 3 ice climbing we were established 800 feet from the summit. All but Martha, who had bad stomach pains, and I went to the summit via this new route. Then although none of us was in really good shape, Michael Scott, Reid, Nazir and I decided to go for the southwest ridge of Nanga Parbat. We climbed appalling loose rock to camp at 21,000 feet. The next day we reached 24,000 feet in a storm and hurricane-force winds. We backed down 500 feet and bivouacked. Reid was ill, possibly with a mild oedema, so we descended the next day to Base Camp. A few days later our much depleted party hired horses and galloped out to the roadhead.

Douglas Scott, Alpine Climbing Group

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.