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Asia, Pakistan, Batura Muztagh, Kutshkulin Sar, Ascent

Kutshkulin Sar, Ascent. In August, a six-man international team visited the Karambar Glacier region of northern Pakistan. We were entirely self-funded. The Karambar Glacier lays at the northern limit of the Ishkoman Valley with the surrounding mountains forming the extreme western boundary of the Karakoram range. The whole region has received little attention in comparison with the widely traveled eastern Karakoram and was chosen for its new route potential on sub-6000-meter peaks.

Members Simon Woods, Jock Jeffrey, Walter Keller, Bryan Godfrey, William Cadell and Adam Thomas used Gilgit as a base from which to explore the upper reaches of the Ishkoman Valley. After organizing transport and cooks, they left Gilgit for a three-day drive to the road- head at Bad Swat. A two-day walk in gave access to Base Camp on the true right bank of the Karambar Glacier. From here, two weeks of exploration and reconnaissance of the Kutshkulin Valley (which runs due north from Karambar Ilag) ensued, the result of which was a decision to concentrate on the peaks at the head of the Kutshkulin Glacier, which runs north from the Karambar itself.

After many days reconnaissance and acclimatization, the team attempted a mountain known as Kutshkulin Sar (ca. 5900m). Following a two-day approach to the mountain via Advanced Base Camp, Camp I was established high on a ridge above a tributary of the Kutshkulin Glacier. From here, two teams comprising Woods and Jeffrey and Keller and Thomas climbed the initial slopes beyond camp to the start of the large and heavily crevassedwest face, one team electing to place an intermediate camp here, the other continuing on. This face was found to be the technical crux of the ascent with much route-finding through seracs and climbing up to 80 degrees. A col to the north of Kutshkulin Sar was reached and a high camp established at the foot of the final summit pyramid. From here it was a short and relatively easy ascent for both parties, following a line over a serac barrier, across a small plateau and finally joining the upper section of the east ridge, which led quite steeply to the summit. The summit was reached on August 29.

Descent to high camp was via the same route, but a more direct line to intermediate camp was found through the seracs of the west face. From here, one team retraced the initial approach, with the other descended more easily via a small glacier to reach a point just below CI. First climbed in 1998 by a strong German team (see above), this represents the second ascent of Kutshkulin Sar via a new and completely independent line.

Although access throughout the region was generally difficult due to lean snow conditions and large and very active icefalls, much potential exists for further exploratory climbing in the Karambar Glacier area, albeit of a high standard.

Simon Woods, United Kingdom