American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Nanga Parbat Range, Masherbrun Mountains, Chiantar Glacier Area, Exploration

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2001

Chiantar Glacier Area, Exploration. From the virgin summits reached during the course of the 1997 Karambar expedition (see AAJ 1998, p. 315), an incredible vision opened before our eyes to the south: the vast, incredible expanse of the Chiantar Glacier, the most extensive of the entire Hindu Kush. Its southern borders appeared to be delimited by a crown of splendid summits, of which only the most western—Garmush—has been climbed. The beauty of the place, the reliability of the weather and the ambience of the glacier prompted us to organize a second expedition to attempt some summits and thereby complete our climbing exploration of the area.

Koh-i-Chiantar, which delimits the eastern part from the vast Chiantar Glacier, was climbed for the first time in the 1970s by a Austrian-German expedition guided by Alfred Linsbauer. The climbers circumnavigated the mountain and climbed its south face. The southern end of the Chiantar Glacier had never been traveled, and Karka, the beautiful mountain shaped like the wing of a bat, had not yet received a visit.

South of the chosen summits, the green valley of Mahtahntir with its grand Atar Lake stretches from west to east. We made our base camp some kilometers up the valley at 3800 meters. This was a strategic position that presented no acclimatization problems and that gave access to the southern aspects of all the mountains of the area. One can reach this area in four to five days from Islamabad.

The first group of the expedition, composed of 11 people, departed on July 23, and used the first week to pick out the principal climbing routes, eventually marking and equipping them from a high camp. They also tried to determine the easiest pass to access the Chiantar Glacier, near which, at 4800-5000 meters, Advanced Base Camp would be established. Upon the arrival of the second group eight days later, one of the two kitchen setups was moved to the new camp, together with the alpinists who intended to make climbs from the northern glaciers. There existed therefore the possibility to follow very full itineraries and then to ascend by the southern aspects.

The activity of the climbers, directed by the leader, Franco Brunello, turned to the many aspects of the splendid mountains near base camp that offered themselves to the alpinists. Reports of an earlier reconnaissance spoke not only of glacial walls, but also of demanding granite walls where it would be possible to develop rock and mixed climbs of a certain technical level. Considering the vastness of the area of exploration, one would presumably opt to prepare more of an advanced camp to facilitate climbing activity.

Very important from the exploratory point of view was the trekking available, which was guided by the professor Luciano Chilese. While a group of the alpinists pursued the reconnaissance of the virgin summits, a small number of the expedition participants departed from the Atar Lake base camp to reach Darkot Pass via a route that had already been traveled to this point. Then, instead of descending in the direction of Yasir to reascend to Niaithi, they continued without losing altitude in search of a route that snuck between the southern flanks of Koyo Zon and Thui and the unclimbed summits that make up the top of Dhuli Chhish. After having crossed four passes in five days, they reached Wasam, where they waited for two days before continuing by jeep to Mastuj, passing by Sor Lapsur, Gupis and arriving at Gakuch. Here, on the road that takes one to Gilgit, the entire expedition was reunited to reach the enchanting Peshwar, last stop of our voyage in Pakistan.

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