Changui Tower, East Face, Ludopatía. Fermín Izco, Mikel Zabalza and I left Pamplona on June 18 for Islamabad. Our objective was to climb in the Nangma Valley, which Fermín and Mikel got to know when they opened a new route on the Nameless Tower in 1995 (see AAJ 1996, p. 294).
We left Islamabad quickly on our way to Skardu in a van followed by a jeep to Kande, a village from which we started our two-day walk to Base Camp (4300m). We did some acclimatization and looked at walls. We decided on the east face of Changui Tower (5800m), rejecting the south face of Amin Brakk because of avalanche danger. Furthermore, we tried to find a route that would be predominantly free climbing rather than aid.
Our ascent began with numerous one-and-a-half-hour carries to the foot of the wall from BC. The next day, we fixed the first three pitches and went back to the tents. We returned to the wall with the intention of not descending until we had stepped foot on the summit.
We used two ledges, 300 meters of static line, a 10.5mm 60-meter rope, another 9mm 60-meter rope and a 6mm auxiliary cord that we used to haul the bag. We climbed capsule style.
After six days on the wall, a sudden change in the weather forced us to descend using all of the ropes that we had. We just made it to the start of our route. Three days later, we returned to the wall and had “laughs” to see who would be the first to jumar the 6mm cord. Luckily, it held.
Back on the climb, we found granite of exceptional quality, good weather and a multitude of cracks and dihedrals with many sections at grade 6. Marvelous. There was little work for the aiders and much less for the drill (we only placed the occasional bolt at the occasional belay when we couldn’t use Friends or nuts). We made the fourth camp on a big ledge at the foot of the final 350-meter vertical pillar, which ended up being the most technical part of the route. We finished the rock climbing and attacked the last 200 meters of snow, which gave access to the summit. This we reached on July 16. We rappelled the final pillar of the route and descended via a corridor that gave access to the valley, dragging all of our gear and trash, which saved us from rappelling the entire wall. We called our route Ludopatía (“Compulsive Gambling”) (A3 7a+, 1200m).
After two days of rest back in BC, we proposed to try an ice wall of more than 1500 meters, but the persistent bad weather in all of the Karakoram at the end of July made us desist and return home.
Rubén AramendÍa Pérez, Spain