American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Rakoposhi-Harimosh Mountains, Panmah Muztagh, Biacherahi Tower, Hanispur South and Indian Face Arête, Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2000

Biacherahi Tower, Hanispur South and Indian Face Arête, Ascents. The expedition was comprised of Muir Morton (leader), Tom Bridgeland, Sam Chinnery, Alasdair Coull, Neal Crampton, Dave Hollinger, Dan Long and Paul Schweizer. We set up Base Camp in early July on a strip of moraine on the north side of the Choktoi Glacier, directly across from the Indian Face Arête on Latok III. The first quarter of Latok III’s north spur was found to be seriously threatened by unstable seracs, especially to the right. When a huge serac avalanche from high on the north face, to the left of the spur, came very close to wiping out several members of the party, we decided to abandon the north spur and focus on some objectively safer alternatives.

On July 19, Hollinger and Schweizer climbed Biacherahi Tower (5800m), the striking shark’s-fin-type formation directly across the Choktoi Glacier from Latok I. We climbed it from near the col linking the Choktoi and Nobande Sobande Glaciers. Ascending Biacherahi Tower took about four and a half hours from high camp; we left around 5 a.m. and attained the high col between the Tower and its neighboring peak (a Snowdome-type formation of roughly equal height) by about 7 a.m. After ascending the north ridge for several hundred feet, we decided to rope up and encountered ice up to 65 degrees. We rappelled the route with ice threads to get back to the col.

On July 28, Hollinger and Schweizer made an ascent of Hanispur South (a.k.a. Harpoon Peak, 6047m), the prominent triangular summit directly behind BC (see AAJ 1999, pp. 386-389). On July 27, we established a high camp in the col between Hanispur and Trident (or Choktoi) Peak and the next morning ascended a steep névé face to the north ridge, which we followed over sections of steep, rotten ice and mixed ground to a false summit. Here we rappelled 40 feet into a notch in the ridge and continued for two more pitches to the actual summit.

On Hanispur, ascending the route took about eight and a half hours from high camp. The north ridge was fairly jagged and heavily corniced, with some very rotten ice. The first difficulty was a rotten snow mushroom which we traversed under to the left. This was followed by a pitch of reasonably engaging mixed climbing (probably hard Scottish 4). The crux was a pitch of totally rotten 75-degree ice. We reached the summit at about 2 p.m. Descending took some time, because we had to reverse the rappel from the false summit. We then rappelled into a long northeast couloir which led straight to high camp after maybe 15 rappels and a lot of down- climbing. We didn’t get back to high camp until midnight, then returned to BC the next day.

Chinnery, Coull, Morten and Hollinger also did the first ascent of the West Wall (A3, 800m) of the Indian Face Arête. The main arête line was first climbed by Doug Scott and Sandy Allen in 1990. The new variation climbs an obvious groove that runs up the left side of the vertical west wall of the spur. It starts 80 meters up the central couloir and reaches the Scott/Allen route at about half height. On the Indian Face Arête, the wall was climbed during five days using fixed ropes and returning to the comfort of BC each night until the final push.

On July 27, Coull, Chinnery and Morten followed the fixed line to the ridge, cleaning all fixed gear as they went. The original Scott/Allen route was then followed, with one bivy, to reach the summit of the arête on July 28.

Paul Schweizer, University of Edinburgh Mountaineering Club

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