American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Nameless Trango Tower, Eternal Flame Route

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1990

Nameless Trango Tower, Eternal Flame Route. Our expedition was composed of Milan Sykora, Christoph Stiegler, Wolfgang Güllich and me. Our goal was to establish a new route on the south face of the Nameless Tower in free-climbing or Rotpunkt (red point) style. Güllich and I had already done the first free ascent of the Nameless Tower in 1988 via the Yugoslavian route. At that time, we discovered a great line, a crack system to the left of the Yugoslavian route. We arrived at Base Camp on August 16. Because of bad weather, it took us more than three weeks to set up a camp on the shoulder of the Nameless Tower at 5400 meters, with equipment and ten days of food. In the following two weeks, we were able to complete the new route. It has 35 pitches of difficult climbing: 11 pitches of 5.11 and two of 5.12. The excellent cracks reminded me of Yosemite and the rock quality of Joshua Tree. We fixed several pitches before a couple of days of rest in Base Camp. After our return to the shoulder, the next day we climbed several more of the finest pitches of my life before Güllich fell and severely sprained his ankle. He was helped back to the shoulder camp, where ice packs and aspirin kept the pain somewhat in control. The following day, Stiegler and I climbed past our high point until we had ascended some 500 very difficult meters when the weather turned threatening. We rappelled back to the shoulder. The day after, September 18, Stiegler and I jümared back up but traversed some 40 meters to the right to join the Yugoslavian route, which we followed some 300 vertical meters to the summit. With the help of aspirin and plastic boots, Güllich accompanied me the next day. We pushed the route further past the crux of the whole route before being driven down by an icy wind. September 20 was for me the sixth day without a rest. We climbed back up and past our previous high point, despite a slip which took the skin off my right hand. Finally we completed this direct finish to the summit (6251 meters, 20,510 feet). We named our route “Eternal Flame.” The inspiration for this was the flameshaped rock tower and a song of a four-girl English rock group, the Bangles. The song accompanied us on the whole trip and the lyrics of the song gave us the names of every pitch. This is the hardest rock route (5.12c) yet done in the Himalaya or the Karakoram.

Kurt Albert, Deutscher Alpenverein

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