American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

New England Section

  • Club Activities
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  • Publication Year: 2005

Trango Monk, first ascent; Peak 4,700m (Garda Peak), first ascent, Karakoram Khush; Nameless Tower, Eternal Flame, alpine-style ascent; rock routes in valley. From August 2 through September 28, Klemen Mali, Miha Valic, and I, all from Slovenia, climbed in the Trango group. Our main target was supposed to be the southwest ridge of Great Trango Tower. However, just a few days before our departure, we heard that the ridge had been climbed by Americans Josh Wharton and Kelly Cordes. It was a great disappointment for us, but we knew that there are a lot of other mountains around there, and enough work for us to do. When we arrived at base camp the weather was good, so we started with acclimatization. Five days after we arrived, Valic and I climbed Great Trango Tower (6,287m) by the Selters-Woolums Route on the north flank (ice and snow up to 80°, mainly 40°–60°). Afterthat the bad weather lasted for two weeks. In this period of unstable weather Valic and I climbed Sadu (350m, 6b+ A1) on a rock pillar near BC. We thought that we were climbing a new route but later we recognized a picture in a climbing magazine about the French route of 2003 [Antoine and Sandrine de Choudens: 350m and seven pitches: 6c: the Slovenians made a variant to this route]. On September 3 the weather started to improve and that day all three of us climbed a new peak half an hour from base camp. We named the route Karakoram Khush (Karakoram Pleasure) (300m, 6b A0) and the peak became Garda Peak (4,700m). Next day we climbed another new route left of Sadu, and gave it the name Piyar, piyar (Love, love...) (350m, 6b+ A0). This route and Sadu were quite hard because of sandy rock and cracks filled with mud and grass.

After one rest day, on September 5 we started from base camp early in the morning. After four hours in an unpleasant scree gully we reached the north col of Nameless Tower and started climbing on the east face of the virgin Trango Monk (5,850m). There was a lot of snow and ice in the lower part, so climbed very slowly. We bivied on the good ledge on the south face and before the night we fixed our two ropes up to the obvious shoulder below the summit tower. Next day we found the only crack in the summit tower and at noon reached the sharp summit. On the same day we descended to base camp. The name of our route is Chota Badla, which means Small Revenge and is dedicated to our friend Josh Wharton who “stole from us” the southwest ridge of Great Trango; Josh had tried Trango Monk three times in the past. The route is rated (450m, 6b A2 70°).

After that we could take just one day of rest because Miha’stime in base camp was running out. So the next day we went to the south col and in three days we made the first alpine style ascent of Eternal Flame (1,000m, 6c+ A2) to the top of Trango Tower (6,251m). We bivied on the shoulder and on the ledge after pitch 23. We chose the slower but surer two-bivouac tactic because we knew all previous alpine-style attempts had ended near the summit when they ran out of time. We reached the summit on September 11 at 1 p.m. We reached base camp after five hours of rappelling and sliding down the couloir. We climbed the route on our first try.

There have been a lot of attempts on this route, but as far as I know the only successful ascents (after the first ascent by Albert-Güllich-Stiegler-Sykora in 1989) were the Spanish in 1998, Germans in 2000, and Swiss in 2003. [Ed note: other attempts on this route during 2004 reached the junction with the British Route or in some cases the summit ridge.]

Tomaz Jakofcic, Slovenia

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