American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Charakusa Spires, 1987 and 1988

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1989

Charakusa Spires, 1987 and 1988. The five glacier systems leading up from the head of the Hushe Valley offer remarkably easy access to spectacularly steep walls of rock and ice characteristic of the Karakoram. From July to September 1987, Ruben Mookerjee, Mick Seavers, Dave Pritchard and I chose to concentrate on the Charakusa (or Saraqsa) Glacier to the east. We first attempted unclimbed Nanika (6325 meters, 20,750 feet) by its northwest ridge. After two days, we were forced to retreat from a bivouac at 18,800 feet by an exploding stove and deteriorating weather. The ice-and-mixed climbing would have required four or five days to complete. (Nanika was climbed three weeks later by another British group via a rock spur on the southwest.) We then attempted to repeat alpine-style the 1978 Japanese route on the north ridge of Dryphica (6568 meters, 21,500 feet). Weather again forced a retreat from a bivouac at 20,800 feet. The one successful ascent in 1987 was made by Mookerjee and me on September 4 of the south couloir of Sulo (6005 meters, 19,700 feet), a second ascent. The route, while not difficult, is exposed to serious rockfall. With perfect weather, great friendship and help from the Hushe villagers, it was very enjoyable. A 16-page report and maps are available. From July to September 1988, John Stiles, Andy Bunnage, Bob Pettit, Steve Jones, Bob Marks, Jill Onyett, Chris Holder, Dave Pickels and I returned. We chose to work in smaller teams. In eight weeks of climbing, we reached four unclimbed summits. Stiles and Marks made a two-day ascent of a crack-and-chimney system on the southwest face of Kar Spire (5791 meters, 19,000 feet). Bunnage and I climbed Nayser Peak (5700 meters, 18,700 feet) in a single day. This spectacular pyramid’s north ridge was gained from a scree slope which led to a col at 17,600 feet. A very long, continuous ice gully, 3500 feet high, led to the summit of Hussain Peak (5852 meters, 19,200 feet). It was climbed on a very long day by Bunnage and Marks. Stiles, Pickles and I climbed Poro Peak (6187 meters, 20,300 feet) from an advance camp at 18,200 feet. An easy snow slope led to the summit ridge at 19,800 feet. It was there that the pinnacles and difficulties started. There remains a great deal of potential in this area for small teams to attempt unclimbed peaks. I am preparing a history of climbing on the Hushe region, listing all known ascents and all unclimbed summits, as well as a detailed map based on data gained on the 1987 and 1988 expeditions. It is available from me, 91 Telford Avenue, London SW2 4XN, England.

David Hamilton, Alpine Climbing Group

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