Wulio-I-Sar (6,050m), first ascent. Mathieu Paley, a French professional photographer based in Hong Kong, has spent a considerable amount of time in the Karakoram over the last three to four years working for NGOs. He and I are passionate about British exploration in the northern areas of the Karakoram (the travels of Younghusband, Conway, Shipton, et al). We are also interested in the history of Shimshal’s remote population. The aim of our two-man trip was to explore the Braldu Valley near the Chinese border and make the first ascent of an easy peak named Wulio-I-Sar (a.k.a. Chikar Sar, 6,050m).
This involved a walk of five days from Shimshal village to our base camp. We reached the spot known as Wulio, which lies below the south face of Wulio-I-Sar, and walked up a narrow valley to the start of the glacier at 5,000m. Here we spent the night under a large boulder on the moraine. The next morning, August 8, we began at 4:30 a.m. We avoided seracs by slanting right up the south face to a small col and then up through an easy crevassed area to reach the east ridge. We gained its crest at ca 5,800m and followed it easily to the summit. This was Paley s first-ever mountain. It took six-and-a-half hours from the moraine and was Alpine F. We had no altimeter and have taken the height from Nelles Map Sheet 2.
For over two weeks we explored the lower reaches of the Braldu Valley and an old salt mine located at place known as Darband, near the Chinese border. The former mining activity may have justified the existence of an old route across the Lukpe La (5,620m), connecting the Braldu to Askole in Baltistan. This Lukpe La (maybe first identified by Younghusband, then Schomberg in 1934) is the fifth pass that was originally identified by early British explorers (after the Turkestan Pass, Saltoro Pass, and West and East Muztagh passes). In a cave we discovered a burial site and skeleton, which leads us to believe that this deserted area was formerly inhabited by travelers and salt workers.
Bruno Collard, France