American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Masherbrum Range, Charakusa Valley, Central Farol Peak, Probable First Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

Central Farol Peak, probable first ascent. At the start of July our German-Swiss Expedition (Cedric Haehlen, Urs Stoecker, Rainer Treppte, and I) left for the Charakusa Valley. Like other expeditions in 2005, we were refused permits for K7 or K6 for security/safety reasons. However, we decided to go anyway and look at 5,000m-6,000m peaks, as we all felt there must be plenty of worthy objectives giving good climbing.

After acclimatizing with an ascent of Sulo Peak (5,950m), Cedric and I climbed the middle summit of the three Farol Peaks, via the striking south pillar. We camped on the glacier at 5,000m, close to the foot of the pillar, and started our ascent at midnight on July 26. We first climbed a big snow ramp leading to the start of the rock ridge at 5,650m. Arriving there at dawn, we were confronted with a demanding pitch of near-featureless vertical granite. The terrain above provided several pitches of challenging climbing, crossing loose flakes, followed by steep ice and mixed climbing through beautiful sound granite. Every tower and gendarme proved unavoidable, and between them was much deep soft snow, through which we had to wade, often up to our waists. Several vertical snow walls consumed much time and energy Finally, we reached the end of the ridge at 8:00 p.m. and bivouacked under a cornice that formed the start of the summit snowfield.

Next morning we had a hard fight negotiating waist-deep snow, before reaching the summit tower. This final section began with a wonderful mixed pitch, but the last few rope lengths, on steep smooth slabs covered with a thin layer of snow, demanded a lot more concentration. The last 30m of steep, waist-deep snow slope nearly exhausted us. We found no evidence of previous passage on the route and assume we made a first ascent. Jan Mersch and a German party attempted the route a few days before us and also found no trace of previous attempts. As to grades, we climbed several rock pitches between V and VI, a few meters of A1 on the last big gendarme of the rock ridge, two pitches of M6 or M7 on the first part of the pillar, and a pitch of M6 on the summit tower. Our altimeter read 6,350m on top, confirming our view that the West (Main) Summit (6,370m) was only slightly higher than us. The East Summit was around the same height and the Far East somewhat lower. Cedric and I descended by rappelling to the big snowfield, then on down between glacier and pillar. Although exciting, due to horrifying seracs, it was quick, and we reached base camp late in the afternoon.

During the next three weeks the weather was generally bad with only a few isolated fine days. We used these to repeat the popular British Route (north ridge) on the fantastic pyramid of Naysar Brakk (5,200m), the South West Couloir of Beatrice (ca. 5,800m), and a rock route (Asteroid Valley) on Iqbal wall (ca. 5,400m).

Hans Mitterer, Germany

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