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Asia, Pakistan, Karakoram, Passu Sar, Attempt

Passu Sar, attempt. Believing it to be still unclimbed and therefore one of the highest unclimbed summits in the Karakoram, a five-man Australian team led by myself booked Passu Sar (7478m). This peak is situated between Shispare and the Batura Group. However, shortly before leaving home, we learnt of a German expedition (reported in the 1995 AAJ), who appeared to have climbed Passu Sar in August 1994 and not the lower Passu Diar (a.k.a. Passu Peak, 7295m), which lies a little to the east. Checking with a local high altitude porter in Gulmit, we were able to confirm that Dirk Naumann, Ralf Lehmann, Volker Wurnig, and Max Wallner had indeed made the first ascent of the higher peak, using skis for much of the ascent and bypassing the lower peak by going through a high shallow saddle to one side.

We set up base camp in June close to the Passu Glacier but instead of finding the lower glacier just badly crevassed, as we had expected from information provided by the Alpine Club of Pakistan (which organized a successful expedition to Passu Diar in 1996), we discovered a giant icefall starting at around 4200m and having over 800 meters of vertical gain. On closer inspection we realised that the route was very complex, dangerous, and just not possible for a lightweight effort, so we abandoned any further attempt. The previous winter had been very dry and knowing this, we had arrived early to profit from whatever snow cover remained. However, it appears that a succession of dry years has taken a severe toll.

Damien Gildea, AAC, Australia