Asia, Pakistan, A Note on Names of Formations Rising from the Hainablak Glaciers

Publication Year: 1999.

A Note on Names of Formations Rising from the Hainablak Glaciers. Directed by Greg Child, Bernard Domenech (France) contacted the AAJ in the autumn of 1998 with a note on the naming of Shipton Spire. He wrote, “[In the 1936 expedition report], Ardito Desio gave the mountain [the name of Hainablak] because his porters, [who were from] the Baltic region, named it this way. [They]… remember that the remarkable wall opposite Brangsa, the last bivouac before the traverse [into China], always used to be called Hainablak.…”

Also in the autumn, we received an account from Thomas Tivadar on his team’s 1997 attempt on Hainablak East Tower (see the cover of this volume, and pp. 207-8). When we inquired about the name, Tivadar sent photocopies from the Jan Kielkowski book, Western Baltoro Mustagh, which he had come upon in the German Alpine Club library while researching big wall objectives in the Karakoram. In addition to Hainablak East Tower, sketch maps in the Polish book refer to other formations rising from the Hainablak glaciers by the “Hainablak” designation as well. This includes the formation that has come in recent years to be known as Shipton Spire, which is labeled Hainablak Central Tower in its pages. The same formation is indicated as “Hainablak T.” by the map Karakoram, published in 1991 by the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research.

Hoping for local clarification, we contacted Greg Mortenson, a regular visitor to the area whose Central Asia Institute works closely with the Balti population (see pp. 184-5 in this volume). Mortenson sent runners into the local villages with copies of the sketch maps from Western Baltoro Mustagh with questions regarding the local names for the formations. Upon completion of his research, he wrote,

“The name Hainablak has been mentioned in older moutaineering literature by several explorers to the Baltoro-Trango region: 1. 1856, by German Baltoro glacier explorer Adolf Schlagintweit. 2. 1909, by Luigi Amedeo di Savoia (Duke of Abruzzi) and Vittorio Sella. 3. 1929, by the Geographical Expedition led by the Duke of Spoleto and Arditio Desio. [On page 292, this expedition book has a photo of ‘Shipton Spire’ designated as ‘L’Ainablak nella valle del Tramgo.’]

“I consulted with three elder Braldu Valley village chiefs, Haji Mousin of Pakhora village, Haji Ali of Korphe village and Hussein of Teste. Braldu Valley is the historic entrance to the Baltoro Glacier approach to K2. These villages have ancestral grazing rights to the Panmah-Choktoi glacier region [and the] Paiyu and Trango areas. All of them informed me that they have always known ‘Shipton Spire’ as ‘Hainabrakk’ [‘brakk’ in Balti is pronounced ‘blakk,’ which accounts for the discrepancy in spelling].

“Then, I requested additional information from Ghulam Parvi, director of Skardu-based Blue Sky Travel and local entrepreneur. Parvi referred me to a mutual Skardu friend, Mr. Husseinabadi, for clarification. Husseinabadi, a school headmaster, Islamic philosopher and linguist, is the foremost living scholar on Balti language. He was recently presented with a medal of honor by Pakistan’s Prime Minister for his 15-year effort to translate the Koran into Balti. Here is Mr. Parvi’s reply:”

January 7, 1999

Honorable Sirs and Madames,

Mr. Husseinabadi and myself consulted compiled Balti archives and dictionaries. We did not find any Balti word for the English word spelled as “Haina Blakk”. But there is actually a Balti word pronounced “ainabrakk” (“aa-ee-na brakk,” long aa, long ee and na). “Aina” means looking glass (mirror) and “brakk” means mountain.

When writing the actual Balti pronounciation in English, the letter “h” becomes silent (e.g, “honor”). If we keep the letter “h” silent in Haina, the actual pronounciation is “aina,” or “looking glass.”

The shape of Shipton Spire looks like a hard and smooth surface. When there is rain or the nearby water and snow give light, the reflection of the peak looks like a mirror.

The local Braldu valley people call Shipton Spire “(H)aina Brakk” (pronouced “aa- ee-na blakk”). I hope the name is now clear to you and honorable members of American Alpine Club.

Ghulam Parvi

Notes Mortenson, “If local Baltis take back their ancestral name for Shipton Spire, the British mountaineering clubs might demand a round of Scotch on the house compliments of the AAC.” In addition to the individuals mentioned above, we wish to thank Jack Zektzer, Susanne Schenk, John Mudd, Mr. Aziz Ahmed, Hussein, Twaha, and Rose Ali for their help in this matter.