Shipton Spire, Akelarre, New Route. The expedition took place throughout July and August. After nine days, preparing in Rawalpindi and journeying to Skardu, Jose Ramón Ezquibel, Jokin Larrañaga and I arrived in Askole, met the porters and began the four-day trek to Shipton Spire base camp. Once we had finished carrying all the gear, we set up Advance Base Camp on the shoulder of the mountain, where we found platforms of the previous American expeditions to this big wall of the Karakoram. We soon became fascinated by the line that led up the pillar of the 1992 American attempt and where, two years later, Ryuchi Taniguchi had fallen more than 500 meters, leaving his two packs behind on the wall.
On July 10, we began to climb, fixing around 400 meters of rope up to a small ledge. We overcame some fine crack stretches without any extreme difficulty. From here we began the hard task of pulling up the bags. Once we had set up the portaledge, we began the next wall, where we encountered two pretty difficult pitches, with the odd expanding flake, until we reached Taniguchi’s bags. From then on, the climb became easier, with good crack pitches stretching up to a roof some 300 meters above Camp 1. Here we set up Camp II and continued through a lovely off width and a logical system of comers up to the top ledge, from which the Americans had continued in their attempt to reach the summit. On the top ledge, we set up Camp III, some 900 meters from the ground. Here the final wall started with an initial pitch of difficult nailing, which led to an obvious exit corner. This zone, which was fairly overhanging, had various expanding, totally loose features, which fortunately could be got around without being touched.
After arriving at the summit edge, which joins the Ship of Fools route to the summit, we were held up by a five-day storm in Camp III. Time and food ran out, and with the improvement of the weather we collected the fixed ropes and began our descent without having completed the route, which we have named Akelarre (6b A4, 1150m).
Alvaro Ortiz, Spain