American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Trango Nameless Tower, Attempt and Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1996

Trango Nameless Tower, Attempt and Ascent. Paul Pritchard, Noel Craine, Adam Wainwright and Andy Cave traveled by jeep to arrive at Askole on July 5. We were travelling and sharing many expenses with the British Women’s Trango Expedition, so we left Askole with 60 porters. On July 9, we found a new Base Camp one and a half hours higher up than the usual Dunge Base Camp on the opposite side of the glacier, much nearer to the Towers. Unfortunately, a Spanish team had just completed one of our prospective new lines on the north face and an American team was deeply involved with the other. The rest of the rock on the north face was pretty blank and we couldn't justify the amount of drilling needed. Adam and Andy went off to attempt the Slovene Route on the south face whilst Noel and I continued to explore the north side. By July 22 we had carried loads up the gully to Col Curran (5400 meters), thereby being the first to make this approach. We slept high in the gully and next morning the weather had deteriorated badly. We decided to descend immediately. On the descent Craine fell into a crevasse, cracking three ribs and damaging a lung. Craine got down to Base Camp safely with help from Pritchard. Meanwhile Cave and Wainwright had fixed 200 meters of rope to the shoulder at 5600 meters on the south face and had been stormed off. Cave agreed to escort Craine back home to the U.K.

At the beginning of August we decided to attempt the Slovene Route from the Trango Glacier. On August 2 we jümared to the shoulder camp and on the 3rd and 4th fixed rope on four pitches. The climbing was technical (E2 A2) on a perfect sheet of granite. Then a five-day storm began which we sat out at an American team's Base Camp on the Trango Glacier. The weather cleared and on August 10 we jümared to the shoulder camp. On the 11th we set off on the lines at 6 a.m., freed our top two ropes for climbing and began grappling with severely iced-up rock. We planned two days for the sixteen remaining pitches, but with so much ice we realized things would be a bit slower. The climbing was always difficult and required a lot of ingenuity and sculpting of ice. Two further days of climbing saw us on the summit (6259 meters) at 4:30 p.m. on August 13 (the same day as the K2 tragedy) in a terrible wind. Three hours were required to rappel 18 pitches to the shoulder camp. On the rappels I began to feel odd and on arrival at the shoulder my lungs began to gurgle. After a bad night I felt worse, gurgling more. It was pulmonary edema in an acclimatized person, descending. The remaining rappels were very difficult for me but we had help from the Women’s Expedition in getting our equipment and fixed rope down.

After a few days at Base Camp my lungs recovered enough for us to beat a hasty descent to Skardu. Wainwright and Pritchard, along with three of the British Women's Expedition, were subsequently barred from Pakistan for four years for diverging from regulations. Wainwright and the three women left Base Camp four days early to get home for work commitments. Pritchard broke no rules but was barred as leader. It is very common for some of the team to leave early and it does not usually end so.

Paul Pritchard, Alpine Climbing Group

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