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Asia, Pakistan, Hindu Kush, Saraghrar Southeast, First Ascent

Saraghrar Southeast, first ascent. In July a Neuchatel Swiss Alpine Club expedition, which comprised nine members led by Jean-Michel Zweiacker, made the first ascent of Saraghrar Southeast (7,208m) in the High Hindu Kush.

On June 22 the expedition, with assistance from 120 porters from Zondangram village, established base camp at 3,930m (GPS; N 36° 29.32' E 72° 07.43') in the Rosh Gol Valley. Our initial plan was to attempt a direct route to the Southeast summit but this was rapidly abandoned, when we saw how threatened it would be from ice fall. Our decision was confirmed on July 1 when a huge ice avalanche, initiated by an earthquake, swept the approach up the Warsin Glacier. Instead the team chose a safer route to the west on the south face of Saraghrar, passing close to Saraghrar South (7,307m). This summit was climbed by a Japanese expedition in 1967 [Saraghrar South had been climbed only once before 2005. Hara and Satoh reached the top via the south face from the glacier immediately west of the Warsin. It appears that the Swiss team followed a very similar route—Ed.].

On June 27 Camp 1 was set up at 5,076m (N 36° 30.66' E 72° 06.70') on a secondary ridge running west off the main south spur of Saraghrar South. The route above lay over glacier with rocky sections. On the 8th Camp 2 was established at 6,147m (N 36° 31.58' E 72° 06.96'). Above, steep ice gullies (50°) led to more gentle slopes and Camp 3 at 7,007m (July 19; N 36° 32.09' E 72° 06.95'), which was placed to the south of Saraghrar South. On July 24, Mazal Chevallier, Sébastien Grosjean and myself reached the summit of Saraghrar Southeast (N 36° 32.26' E 72° 07.69'), opening a route through a pass at 7,224m (N 36° 32.33' E 72° 06.85') west of Saraghrar South. This pass led to the Saraghrar plateau from where another pass at 7,210m (N 36° 32.43' E 72° 07.23') north of the South peak allowed us to reach the base of the Southeast peak. The final section was composed of steep rock and ice slopes with a narrow ridge leading to the highest point. From the top there were excellent views of base camp 3,300m below. The same day Fred Morthier, climbing alone, reached the South summit for the second overall ascent, following a rocky ridge directly from the pass to the west. He then snowboarded down very steep slopes from camp 3 to the top of the rocky section above camp 1.

On July 27, Corinne Lerch, Martin Liberek and Jean-Michel Zweiacker repeated the route to the South summit. Finally, on the 29th, Marc Bélanger and Jean-Michel Zweiacker reached the Southeast peak and South peak on the same day.

During the expedition we made the first ascent of a much lower unnamed peak. With a height of 4,950m and situation south of the Saraghrar massif, it offered a perfect observation point for Saraghrar route identification. Bélanger and Morthier reached the top on June 25, and over a month later, on July 29, it was climbed again by Grosjean. Morthier made a snowboard descent via the north gullies.

Yves-Alain Peter, Switzerland