American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Mustagh Tower, Northwest Ridge, Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997

Mustagh Tower, Northwest Ridge, Attempt. This summer a team of four attempted the Northwest Ridge of Mustagh Tower and reached a high point of about 21,100 feet. Conditions were characterized by abnormally deep snow cover and frequent stormy weather. Aid and Al Burgess, Supy Bullard, and Peter Carse established Base Camp at 14,500 feet on June 1. During an initial period of fine weather, Camps I and II were established (16,350’ and 18,250’), and the headwall above Camp II was fixed to the West Col (20,000’) by June 13. A nine-day storm that dumped four feet of snow at Camp II forced us to retreat to Base Camp, where we enjoyed 10 gallons of Adrian’s famous homebrew.

During the next phase, plagued by frequently changing and unsettled weather, we established Camp III at 20,300 feet and climbed to the top of the 800-foot step where the angle of the ridge begins to ease off.

By rope-soloing directly up through the rockband at the top of this step on July 4, I found that it was unnecessary to make the traditionally described traverse to the right, with its wildly exposed moves on the brink of the southwest face. The direct line was only about 5.4ish, steep and loose but adequately protectable, and about 75 feet high. From the top of the step a good view of the upper 2700 feet of the route was obtained.

Faced with deteriorating weather and a shortage of supplies, we all descended to Camp II later that same day. We departed Base Camp on July 8 after five weeks on the mountain.

Peter Carse, unaffiliated

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