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Asia, Pakistan, Batura Muztagh, Khan Sar and Sahan Sar, First Ascents

Nico Sar, First Ascent. On August 12, 2000, Amy Rice and Walter Keller (U.S.) completed an alpine style onsight ascent of a previously unclimbed peak that they christened Nico Sar. Nico Sar (ca. 5800m) is located in the far western Karakoram on the border with the Hindu Kush at 36° 33.917' N, 74° 09.399' E. The ascent is believed to be the first climbing to take place on the Borth Glacier, a little-known area above Imit in the Ghizer district of Pakistan. Nearby landmark peaks are Kampire Dior and Koz Sar, both found on the large adjacent Karambar Glacier. The Borth Glacier features several unclimbed peaks ranging from 5700 to 6300 meters. The tallest peak, shown on the Swiss map as Swat Maras, is readily accessible from the south side of the glacier. The upper Karambar Glacier provides an alternate approach to climb Nico Sar from the north.

Base Camp (4750m) was located on the Nercherkin Glacier, a steep side glacier branching north from the Borth Glacier, at the juncture of an icefall and the lower terminus of a glacial basin named Rockfall Basin.

Advanced Base Camp (4850m) was positioned on the upper end of Rockfall Basin just below a small icefall that marked the commencement of the route’s technical terrain. Despite its ominous name, Rockfall Basin is a breathtaking place with high- quality granite walls towering above in all directions beckoning for future big-wall ascents. Camp I (5300m) and Camp II (5650m) were placed on top of a serac and in a depression on the ridge (Desperation Col), respectively. The angle of ascent ranged from 30 degrees to 70 degrees on consistent ice.

The summit was reached seven days after reaching Base Camp, with three nights spent above Advanced Base Camp.

To avoid rockfall, the majority of climbing took place in the early morning. When a snowstorm forced a hasty descent from High Camp, the consistently steep route sent numerous sloughs of snow cascading over the climbers, adding final excitement to the climb. Overall the route offered solid, sustained, and enjoyable climbing throughout, and both climbers deem it worthy of a repeat ascent.

Walter Keller