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Asia, Pakistan, Karakoram-Hushe Region, Denbor Brakk, West Face, Against the Grain

Denbor Brakk, west face, Against the Grain. During August I traveled to Pakistan with Damien and Elise Kelly, Jim Martinello, and Jason Sinnes, all from Whistler and Squamish, British Columbia. The party of four left me in the small Balti town of Kande and continued to the Charakusa Valley to climb new towers near K7. In one long day Alika, the Sadar of Kande and owner of the K6 hotel, and six other porters helped me get my four haulbags into the Nangma Valley and up to Amin Brakk’s base camp. Here I discovered an unclimbed overhanging face more than 450 meters high on the central Denbor tower right opposite camp. A Polish team had attempted Amin Brakk’s unclimbed nose but decided that drilling the blank overhanging prow for the first five pitches wasn’t worth it. Instead, they completed a new line on the central Denbor tower, climbing to the left of the main overhanging face. They named their route, Dancer in the Dark, after a Bjork film (see previous page).

I first climbed one pitch on Nawaz Brakk next to Amin but was continually bombarded by rock fall, so I set my sights on Denbor’s steep blank face. I soloed three pitches and spent one last dinner with the Polish climbers before they left for home. I would now ascend my lines and commit to the wall. The first three pitches involved hard overhanging seams with Birdbeaks and heads. After that, two pitches of hook traversing brought me to a major off-width that ran straight up the vertical prow for another four pitches. I had used one rope for a Tyrolean across the river and left it fixed. Another was fixed between two very steep pitches, so I could rappel the blank overhanging rock after summiting. One night a storm blew in, covering my portaledge with snow and blowing one of my two remaining ropes 30 meters to the left around a couple corner systems. I spent the entire next day bolting sideways to retrieve my ropes. At the top of pitch eight I pendu- lumed into the Polish line and climbed two variation pitches from here to the top. After being on the wall for eight days, I re-ascended two previously fixed pitches and led three new pitches to the top. Since there was no protection for the last seven meters I climbed unroped to the summit horn. I had given my Trango boots to a porter who had lost his shoes after falling into a river, so I therefore had to climb the whole route in plastic boots. I climbed the last seven meters barefooted. Sitting alone on top, gazing at Himalayan peaks, I felt very exposed. I rappeled the Polish route and traversed to my fixed line through the overhanging lower section. The 13-pitch route, which I named Against the Grain, has a grade of VI A4 V2.

Three days later I met up with my friends in the Charakusa valley and repeated Nazar Brakk (a.k.a. Luxor Pyramid) with Elise Kelly. This ominous peak towering above K7 base camp has some amazing 5.10 razor ridge climbing. The end of our trip involved some bouldering and new route scoping, then it was time to head to Thailand and enjoy some sunny sport climbing.

Matt Maddaloni, Canada