American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Karakoram, Hispar Mutagh, Hispar Sar, Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2005

Hispar Sar, attempt. On September 17 the British Hispar Sar Expedition 2004 (Andy Parkin and myself) set up a base camp at Yutmal (a small ablation valley on the north of the Hispar Glacier to the west of the Yutmaru Glacier), after a two-and-a-half day approach from Hispar Village. Our objective, the southwest face of Hispar Sar (6,400m), lay within sight to the east across the Yutmaru Glacier. From the 19th to the 24th we carried out various reconnaissance/acclimatization outings and set up an Advanced Base Camp on a small un-named glacier below the face. The 25th was spent in base camp celebrating Andy’s 50th birthday. On September 26 we returned to advanced base and the following day began climbing the blatantly obvious couloir to the right of the center of the face. Over a four-day period of variable weather we climbed the couloir, exiting by a steep ridge to the right to gain a shoulder approximately 300 meters (reasonably angled snow slopes) from the top. Unfortunately, an accident on the first cramped bivouac had resulted in most of the food, the brew kit, and a spare can of gas being dropped. A storm set in on the night of the 30th/1st and with only vapor left in the remaining gas cylinder, we were forced to descend the couloir in the morning. We made an orderly set of abseils to the glacier despite frequent and increasingly large spindrift avalanches sweeping down the couloir. At the base of the route we found the three stuff-bags of food, gas, and brewing material, which we enjoyed at the advanced base camp that evening. The return to base camp on the 2nd turned into an epic after we got disorientated on the Yutmaru Glacier in a storm. We eventually reachcd camp just before nightfall and commenced the walk-out on October 4.

The route (1,100m, ED) gave some superb climbing up runnels and cascades of steep ice, between easier angled basins, with the hardest climbing exiting the couloir at the top. The peak still awaits a first ascent to the summit. The team benefited from the concession of 2002, lifting the height at which peak fees are paid from 6,000m to 6,500m. Freed from the bureaucratic hassle and expense of obtaining a permit, this was the most hassle-free trip either of us has taken to Pakistan. We advise others to take advantage of this wonderful concession while it lasts!

Simon Yates, United Kingdom

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