American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Trango Nameless Tower, Free Ascent

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

Trango Nameless Tower, Free Ascent. On September 7, an all-Wyoming Team topped out on the summit of the Nameless Tower (20,500'). The team members Todd Skinner, Mike Lilygren, Jeff Bechtel and Bobby Model spent 60 nights on the wall in order to free climb each pitch. The group climbed to the shoulder via the Slovenian Route, then climbed a variation into the Swiss-Polish route. The route was first aided for reconnaissance and to clean some cracks so they would be free climbable. Lines were fixed from a couple of pitches below the summit to the glacier. Team members freed individual pitches while others went on recon missions higher up. Some pitches were projects worked on individually. At least one person on the team free climbed each pitch. The team named the free version of the route The Cowboy Direct (VII 5.13a).

We started from basecamp on the Trango glacier in mid-July, after Steve Bechtel returned home due to illness. His position on the team was later filled by his younger brother Jeff, who was brought along only to manage Base Camp. Jeff had climbed only a few times before. With the help of a porter, the group ferried gear to the base of the tower and began climbing. The ascent was prolonged by both the difficult free climbing, and several week-long storms that pinned them on the wall. The team spent 75 percent of the time camped at the shoulder and the other 25 percent camped in portaledges at the "Pyramids" at two-thirds height. The top third of the tower yielded some of the greatest climbing known to man. The "Fantastic Crack" split through the top third of the tower as if it had been cut by a laser. Overall, the climbing consisted of numerous pitches of 5.11 and 5.12, and one pitch of 5.13. Bolts were added at belays and at sections of blank wall. The nature of the climbing, however, required very few bolts. Food poisoning and edema nearly wiped out Skinner and Model; each of the members lost at least 20 pounds. The team's permit was extended four times by liason officer Maj. Adnan Hafeez. (See topo on following page.)

Robert Model, unaffiliated

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