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Asia, Pakistan, Masherbrum Range, Nangma Valley, Amin Brakk, Partial New Route

Amin Brakk, partial new route. The Russian Extreme Project, comprising climbers Sergey Kovalev, Alexander Lastochkin, Valery Rozov and Arcady Seregin with cameramen Lev Dorfman and Dmitry Lifanov, climbed a partial new route on the ca 1,250m West Face of Amin Brakk. Rozov, as is usual in these projects, made a sensational BASE jump from high on the wall. The team chose a prominent line towards the right side of the face between Sol Solet (1,650m of climbing and 22 pitches, 6c+ A5,34 days is capsule style: Pep Masip-Miguel Puigdomenech-Silvia Vidal, 1999) and Czech Express (7b+ A3 70°, Marek Holecek-Filip Silhan-David Stastny, 1999). Starting in the same vicinity as Sol Solet, the Russians soon broke out right and appear to have climbed very close to or on the lower section of Namkor (1,550m, 31 pitches, 6b+ A5, Adolfo Mandinabeitia-Juan Miranda, 2000:), before breaking out right again to follow a parallel line that would lead them directly to the summit, crossing back through Namkor close to the top. The Russians spent 22 days on the route; the first 11 fixing rope. During this time one pitch, linking two cracks systems, had to be more or less entirely bolted and skyhooked. Later, a large rock fall, released in the warmth of the afternoon, smashed a section of rope, which had to be replaced.

Setting off around July 12 they made an 11-day round trip to the summit in capsule style. However, of the 33 days spent in the valley, all but three were plagued by either rain or snow, and prolonged bad weather hit when they were a little over half-height, forcing a traverse right to the Czech Route and a faster finish to the summit. The top was reached on July 19 in a blizzard, the Russians having negotiated deep snow and mixed ground in the upper section and climbing a total of 31 pitches, mainly on aid up to A3. Although the amount of significant new ground climbed on this route is perhaps relatively small, the team ascent was yet another successful achievement for former Soviet climbers in their astonishingly productive year of 2004 (Jannu, Everest, etc.).

On the 22nd Rozov made his jump from a point where the rock wall meets the easier- angled upper ridge ca 300m below the summit. This was a soul-searching experience for Rozov, as the wall is not totally vertical and at least one protruding ledge system had to be cleared. He finally decided to go for it and skillfully cleared the ledge in his winged suit for a 1,000m (and 30 seconds) flight to the glacier: “the sensations after landing were simply inexpressible. It seemed I had gone for a spin in a time machine. After so many days living on a vertical wall, suddenly to arrive below on a horizontal, safe site, able to do whatever and go where you liked, was fantastic.”

Anna Piunova/Valery Rozov and the Russian Extreme Project