American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Karakorma, Panmah Muztagh, Great Trango (6,257m), northwest face attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2004

Great Trango (6,257m), northwest face attempt. Four mountaineers from the Ukraine, Alexander Lavrinenko, Vladimir Mogila, Vitali Yarichveski, and Alexey Zhilin planned to try a new route up the huge northwest face of Great Trango left of the existing lines. In 1999 three routes were established on the previously virgin, almost 2,000m-high northwest face and since that time the wall has remained unvisited.

The climbers from the Ukraine reached base camp on July 2 and were on the route a week later. Their chosen line climbed slabby ground to reach the center of the prominent pillar left of the snow patch at ca 5,000m, a little below half-height on the face. From the top of this pillar they would slant up left across compact slabs to reach the edge of the hanging glacier and then up the relatively short headwall to the summit. The team first fixed seven pitches, then waited out bad weather at base camp before starting up the wall in capsule style. From this point it took around 20 days to reach their high point. Unfortunately a surprising lack of features and very dirty cracks, even on the more slabby ground, meant that only one third of the route could be free climbed. The headwall was covered in ice and had to be aided in shade temperatures of around -5°C. However, the line proved very sheltered from objective danger and although each belay features one bolt anchor, only a further 12 were placed on route. Because the route took much longer than expected, the climbers were forced to abandon their attempt an estimated 2- 1/2 pitches (approximately 100 vertical meters) below the summit when all their food and fuel had been used. The route was rappelled in 2-1/2 days of rain and base camp regained on August 4. The team had made nine portaledge camps and climbed 46 pitches before descending on August 2, rating the difficulties as VI 5.11 A4 and likening the climbing to that found in the Karavashin region of Kyrghyzstan, only on a much bigger scale.

Lindsay Griffin, U.K.

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