American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Western China, Broad Peak Central Attempt from the North

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1992

Broad Peak Central Attempt from the North. Our expedition was composed of four Catalan Spaniards, Oscar Cadiach, Lluis Rafols, Joan Gelabert and me, Austrian Kurt Diemberger, Italian Alberto Soncini and Sherpas Sakipa, Pemba and Pasang. The problem of the Shaksgam valley is that it is flooded from the end of June until nearly the end of August. We crossed the border from Pakistan into Xinjiang, China on August 16. We got to Mazardara, a small military post, on August 16. With camels, we ascended the Surukwat valley on August 22, 23 and 24 and the Shaksgam on August 25, 26 and 27. River crossings were a real problem for the camels, but we finally got to the tongue of the North Gasherbrum Glacier. We had hoped to set up Base Camp on the east bank of the glacier, but 30-meter-high penitentes and torrents prevented it. We set up Base Camp about an hour up the side of the glacier on the west bank. The glacier was a labyrinth of ice, where you had to get by one penitente to see your way past the next. It took us five days to get a route up the 25 kilometers. Once marked, it took seven or eight hours. We could not see the east face of Broad Peak until we were at Advance Base, which was on a moraine at 4500 meters. From there, we ascended two or three hours towards Gasherbrum IV over hidden crevasses. This placed us in a cirque below Broad Peak. We spent four days observing the peak to plan routes and to scan possible avalanche tracks. We then decided to attack a spur on the right side that led over a 6400-meter foresummit, beyond which we placed Camp II. The climbing on the spur was difficult. We placed our Camp I at 5400 meters. We then traversed left and climbed ice up to 55 to a nearly vertical, 10-meter-high sérac. We traversed below the top of the forepeak on ice up to 80° and another traverse to Camp II at 6400 meters. A rather easy ridge section led to a last sérac barrier where we set up two small tents as Camp III. We climbed up the séracs to about 7000 meters on ice that varied from 60 to 80°. The route to the summit seemed clear. The temperatures were frigid and another storm kept us tent-bound from September 22 to October 10. We gave up the attempt. Diemberger did a considerable amount of reconnaissance in the region. He investigated the approaches to Windy Gap (Skyang La), ascending the Southeast Skyang Glacier, and the Urdok Glacier.

Jordi Magrinyà, AAEET de Valls, Tarragona, Spain

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