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Asia, Pakistan, Hindu Raj, Kai Zom, Areri, Kamaro Zum, Ulumeshpati; New Routes, First Ascents and Various Attempts

Kampur, attempt. In August and September Pete Linkroum, Jacob Moore, and I explored the Ishkoman region of the Hindu Raj. Our plan was to attempt Jutebar Peak (ca 5600m) near Darkot Pass, but due to poor conditions we turned our sights to a new line on Kampur (5499m), climbed in 2000 via the northwest face by Carlos Buhler and Ivan Dusharin (see 2001 AAJ). We started up the northwest face on September 10 but after six days tent-bound due to bad weather, bailed to base camp. There was no chance for a second attempt, as we were forced to leave because of the terrorist attacks on September 11. A tense exit ensued and we finally reached the U.S. on September 22. Kai Zom, Areri, Kamaro Zum, Ulumeshpati; new routes, first ascents, and various attempts. My first time in Hindu Raj was in 1999 with the “International French Expedition.” We had the information from B. Domenech, who made some photos from the area one year before. Some of us were on the Makutchum base camp, and the others just onto the bottom of the incredible north face of Chushubalstering. Everyone tried to make the first ascent, but the mountain and the weather were stronger than us.

This year we decided to come back on the same BC. We planned to climb in two teams, Nicholas Fabbri, Clément Flouret, and Jéroma Huet as one team; Juliette Géhard and me as another. Hindu Raj is a perfect massif to climb: not very high (6800m maximum), “human faces” (except the Chushu, around 1500 meters), very easy approach (two or three days for BC, less for the mountains), and a lot of unclimbed summits or free faces. The massif looks like some place in the Alps, with wilder places of course, and the only difficult thing is to walk on unknown moraines without tracks or any trails. Do it yourself and enjoy!

So everything began by finding the summit we wanted to climb. The three guys started to go on Ulumespati, a 6175m with a 900-meter long snow slope. Two days walk is needed to cross the enormous glacier and the moraine. At the bottom, some big crevasses and quiet long snow bridges were “interesting.” Early the morning, they climbed fast and joined the flat area just under the last wall. Unfortunately, the wind and maybe a too-fast acclimatization stopped them just at the end. It was the second climb from 1963.

During this time Juliette and I were opening two new routes on two 5000m summits. The first one was the Kai Zom, climbed the first time by Japanese expedition in the 1960s(?), and the other was an unclimbed summit by its north face. We called it “le Trident.”

After a big party on the BC, with sitar and drums, eating goat and French fries, we went to more serious things. The dream team climbed the Areri, a 5700m peak with 1700 meters of fantastic pillar, two-thirds of it increasingly difficult rock climbing, to finish with an easy snow ridge … and the rising sun. The descent took a long time, rappelling down with a shorter and shorter rope.

The two lovers decided to try an unknown 6000m, and missed—too dry, too steep, and too tired! Two days after, we were on the first meters of the Kamaro Zom. Maybe unclimbed by this face, we tried along a giant couloir. At the end, and after six pitches of quite mixed and steep climbing, we had the biggest surprise of the year: the end of the route was not a flat area like I had planned, but a snow ridge becoming warmer and warmer with the noon sun. After two hours more, we turned our back on the summit and missed it by a few meters. The sun finished his job by increasing rock falls and melting the snow so much that water was running on the couloir.

The day after, everybody was dancing again at the BC. Jay, Nico, and Clem opened a rock climbing route up by the BC, and I went with Juliette trying the Ulumeshpati. Like the others, we took two days to arrive on the bottom because of the snow. Bad weather was coming, and the conditions were different. The nice snow slope had become a horrible mirror of black ice. Early the morning, we waited for the stars but the snow was falling again. At 7 a.m. we decided to try something. We climbed slowly on the dark ice, and made many pitches.

Then we waited for the rain to stop. Eight days sleeping in the wet tents, eating peanut butter, playing cards, and listening to music. And like an incredible dream, the sun came back exactly the morning when the porters came back.

There are so many things to do in the Hindu Raj. Two valleys more to the east, 14 unclimbed summits; on the back side of Makutchum, Chikari, or maybe near the Koyo Zom…1 will be back!

Hervé Qualizza, France