American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Masherbrum Range, Charakusa Valley, Choglisa Glacier: Pk. 5,500m, North Face; Raven's Peak, South Face; Capucin, South Face; Pk. 6,000m, Northwest Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2006

Chogolisa Glacier: Pk. 5,500m, north face; Raven's Peak, south face; Capucin, south face; Pk. 6,000m, northwest face. Charakusa Glacier: Iqbal’s Wall, attempt. As in 2004, when we climbed above the Chogolisa Glacier, north of the Charakusa, completing four new routes (AAJ 2005, p. 354) our plan was to visit the Kondus and Saltoro valleys. However, the Pakistan government denied us a permit just two weeks before we were due to leave Italy for the mountains, so we returned to the Chogolisa and established base camp on the north side of the entrance to the Beusten Glacier below Raven's Peak.

On June 18 Hervé Barmasse, Ezio Marlier, and Fabio Salini climbed the north face of virgin Pk. 5,500m, via a line they named Fast and Furious. They climbed the 700m mixed route in a day; it had a difficult upper section of V/4. The second freed a short section of A1 at M6. The trio reached the summit ridge but didn’t continue to the highest point, a little spire 10m above. They rappelled the route. [This summit appears to lie a short distance east along the ridge from Pointed and Crested peaks on the south side of the Beusten—Ed.]

On June 22 Marlier and Salini put up a new line on the left side of the south face of Raven's Peak (ca. 5,300m). Green Tea is eight pitches long and 6b, with a short section of A1 (one bolt). In 2004 we had climbed Luna Caprese (1,000m, 22 pitches, 6c+), a similar line to the original 1987 British Route, toward the right side of the main face.

From June 16 to 26 Barmasse, Cristian Brenna, Francesca Chenal, and I climbed a big line up the left and steepest part of Raven’s south face. We placed fixed ropes on the first 250 difficult meters and used bolts on the first pillar, with a view to a possible all-free, one-day ascent later. We completed Up and Down after six days and 800m of climbing. It has 16 pitches, up to 6c/6c+ and Al, and terminates on the left-hand ridge some distance below the summit. On July 10 Brenna, belayed by Giovanni Ongaro, climbed the route free in one day. They rated the crux (sixth) pitch 7c, but there were many pitches at 7a and 7b. I think this is one of the best and most difficult free climbs in the Karakoram.

From June 24 to 26 Gianluca Bellin and Ongaro climbed the 5,500m Capucin. [This fine spire lies on the south flank of Sheep Peak, up and right from Raven Peak, and was dubbed the Dru by the 1987 British party—Ed.] Duri e Puri is a relatively short (400m, 12 pitches) but difficult “big wall,” with difficulties up to 6b and new wave A2. Bellin and Ongaro climbed the route, which ascends the south face and finishes on the southeast ridge below the summit, capsule style, with two nights spent in portaledges.

On June 28 Barmasse and Giovanni Pagnoncelli climbed the northwest face of an unnamed and previously virgin ca. 6,000m peak on the long west ridge of Farol. The 1,000m route had ice up to 60° and a little mixed terrain close to the summit. However, only Barmasse reached the highest point. [This peak lies east along the ridge from Pk. 5,500m mentioned above and appears to be in a similar location to a summit marked Fiona Peak on Jerzy Wala’s 2005 1:100,000 sketch map of the K6 and Chogolisa groups—Ed.]

Before leaving base camp on the Chogolisa, Brenna and I climbed many boulder problems up to Font 7b, and after four days working a particularly difficult problem, Brenna created Master of Survivor, at Font 7c/7c+, no mean feat for the altitude.

During the last week of our expedition Barmasse, Brenna, and I moved to the Charakusa Glacier to attempt a new route on Iqbal’s Wall, a formation I climbed in 1998 with Natale Villa and Galen Rowell. On July 19 we climbed six pitches, up to 6b/6b+, using traditional protection but were stopped by bad rock on the final 100m. Two days later we repeated the first four pitches of Tasty Talking (300m, 11 pitches, III 5.10+, House-Prezelj-Swenson, 2004) on the southeast ridge of 5,200m Nayser Brakk, then rappelled into the gully on the right and continued to the summit via the classic British Route up the north ridge (300m, British VS plus aid; climbed free at 5.10-, Burnage-Hamilton, 1988).

Luca Maspes, UP project, Italy

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