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Asia, Pakistan, Nangma Valley, Various Ascents

Nangma Valley, Various Ascents. A team of six climbers (Mike Turner, Steve Mayers, Elfyn Jones, Di Lampard, Louise Thomas and Libby Peter) from North Wales, U.K., visited the Nangma Valley in the Hushe region of the Karakoram from July 25 to August 30 and successfully climbed two new rock routes. The Nangma is a side valley off the main Hushe Valley. It has vast potential for alpine-scale rock and mixed routes on peaks up to about 6000 meters, but most of this is well hidden from view, hence it has received little attention.

The team set up a comfortable Base Camp two days’ walk from Kande village. This was located at 4100 meters in a meadow (Sotulpa) and side valley above the Nangma Valley itself. The team operated from here as two separate groups climbing on opposite sides of the valley. Libby and Louise tackled the south face/pillar of Sotulpa Peak (4800m), ten minutes from Base Camp, resulting in Ramchekor, 600 meters of sustained 5.10 A2 climbing in cracks and grooves in 11 days between August 1-14. The route followed a natural line up the middle of the face heading for an obvious split pillar at half height. They fixed rope and reascended from base camp until they were close enough to go for the summit. The climbing combined free and aid climbing, relying on mainly natural protection with the addition of some pegs and a few bolts, where essential, at belays. The route finished just below the summit, which was barred by a ten-meter sheer featureless block. The pair descended the line of the route.

Sotulpa Peak has a rocky north ridge, which, on August 17, the two women climbed from base camp to the actual summit at an alpine grade of AD in a lovely day out that involved mostly dramatic scrambling with some rotten rock and exposed steps. Directly opposite Sotulpa Peak, the pair climbed the rocky Denbor Brakk (AD, 4700m) and explored the head of the valley, climbing in three days to a snowy col (PD, 5600m) that lies below and to the east of Drifica (6400m).

During the same period, the men’s team started work on the imposing north face of Armin Peak (a.k.a. Amin Brakk, 5800m), previously attempted by a Spanish team. They were on the peak from August 2-6 before deciding that they did not have sufficient time to make a serious impression on the featureless granite nose. They then switched their efforts to a neighboring wall, Nawaz Brakk (5600m), where they established a new route that followed a 1000-meter line at 5.11 A3+. A portaledge camp was set up after 500 meters of initial slabs. From here the route followed a major comer system to the top of the wall, with some of the hardest climbing in the top few pitches. They were on and off it between August 8-23, with probably 13 days of climbing in total. They used fixed rope below and above the portaledge camp. The route gave the team a lot of free climbing on the lower half and mostly aid on the upper half.

Libby Peter, United Kingdom