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Asia, Pakistan, Masherbrum Range, Nangma Valley, "Barasa" or "Changi Peak," First Ascent

“Barasa” or “Changi Peak,”first ascent. Tomasz Polok and I established base camp on September 8 at 4,100m on the south side of the Nangma Valley, at the foot of Roungkangchan III. The north face of this peak is a prominent 500-600m rock wall, which we attempted twice in a somewhat heavyweight style. However, the granite was rotten, and the cracks were choked with earth, making the whole climb much less attractive than it had appeared from a distance. After our second attempt, our local guide, Alika from Khande, told us that a French party had climbed this wall by a route that was probably quite close to our planned line. We therefore turned our attention to the opposite side of the valley and the truncated ridges and buttresses of the better-known Changi Tower (a.k.a. Changui Tower, ca. 5,820m on Jerzy Wala’s 2004 1:50,000 map), planning to do a climb in lightweight style on better rock.

Our new route climbs the southwest pillar of the final (lowest) tower on the southwest ridge of Changi Towers East Summit. We called this ca. 5,000m formation “Barasa” or “Changi Peak.” The route is 500-550m high and 900m long, with difficulties up to VII. Initially, there was 200m of straightforward, less-steep rock up to IV, which we climbed without belays. Above lay 14 harder pitches to the summit (we used 50m ropes). The difficulties generally increased the higher we climbed. After two pitches of IV+ were pitches of V and VI, with a final pitch of VII. The 13th seemed the hardest: grade VI smearing with no protection. The 11th pitch featured a sort of rock tunnel 20m long. Most of climbing was very delicate, with small edges and questionable protection in less than sound granite. Much of it, particularly on the compact slabs, was more or less unprotected and rather risky, due to slightly brittle granite. We protected ourselves mainly with Friends, seldom with pitons. We placed one bolt, on the last stance, as there was no possibility for anything else. Overall, the pillar is not very steep, but high up there are almost-vertical sections.

We completed the route in 11 hours on September 17, naming it “Moonlight Pillar.” We took minimal gear and no warm clothes. We descended by rappelling 300m northwest into the gully between our peak and Changui Tower, then carried on down to the southwest. On pitches four and five we came upon rappel slings, which we think might have been left in 2005 by a team unknown to us.

The names for our peak come from our guide Alika, who had previously served other Polish parties. However, we are not sure whether the name “Barasa” refers to our small summit or a bigger part of the Changi Tower massif. Alika also had some sort of illustrated climbing guide to the valley, but in it was no information about climbing on our pillar.

Jan Kuczera, Klub Wysokógdrski Katowice, Poland