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Asia, Pakistan, Chogolisa Attempt

Chogolisa Attempt. On August 5, my partner Andrew Brash (Canada) and I reached Chogolisa Base Camp on the Baltoro Glacier. Our objective was to try a new route on the northeast face. This was quickly put to bed when we watched avalanches strafe our intended line. We moved to plan B: an alpine-style second ascent of the northeast ridge, first climbed by a Spanish team in 1986. Unfortunately we were unable to reach the original start because of a drastic change in the icefall at the ridge's base. On to plan C: a new start to the northeast ridge (the left buttress of the lower ridge), which we began on August 14. What appeared to be a straight-forward ridge turned into a jumbled mess of huge seracs and gaping slots, dangerous bivies and rotten rock. After three long nights of climbing we reached 6500 meters and it began to snow. On the 2nd and 3rd day of waiting in the tent, Phil Powers (leader of the American team on Gasherbrum I) informed us via radio of a major accident on K2. It appeared likely that one of Andrew's best friends, Jeff Lakes, was among those lost. We decided to descend. We managed to find a way down between our route and the Spanish line which required one and a half days but only one rappel. We returned to Base Camp disappointed with the experience, but felt less so the following day when we noticed that our entire descent route had slid in one massive slab. Our climbing frustrations, nothing compared with the grief felt at the other end of the valley, were gone.

John Climaco