Asia, Pakistan, Charakusa Valley, K7, Attempt
K7, attempt. Thanks to the Lyman Spitzer and Shipton-Tilman awards, in late summer Scott DeCapio and I, traveling with our Canadian friends Max Turgeon and Louis-Philippe Ménard, tried some climbs in the Charakusa Valley. First we got horribly off-route trying to repeat No More Tasty Talking—yes, that dead-obvious prow on Naisa Brakk. We wandered too far left, climbing 1,500' of virgin terrain (probably 5.10R), so crappy and un-fun that it’s not worth elaborating on, and then descended from the midway notch.
In mid-September we attempted a new line on K7. (The south-facing clefts between buttresses that we’d hoped to climb on K7 West were melted out and rubbly.) We got about halfway up K7 (22,743'/6,934m), starting from the east with a previously unclimbed (we think) ice and mixed couloir of about 3,000' vertical. This is the next couloir to the right of the Japanese route’s start. The climbing was mostly moderate, with a short crux of maybe WI5 M6, and brought us to a junction with the Japanese route at the end of our first day. The next morning we got another 500'–1,000' higher, passing relics of the Japanese first ascent and reaching the Fortress formation, which looked hard. Thinking ourselves clever, we tried to traverse around it to the left. A man wiser than us once said there’s a fine line between clever and stupid, and indeed there is. We dead-ended and, wilting under our too-heavy packs, gasping under too-thin air, and melting under too-warm temps—in other words, suffering from simple lameness—we retreated from about 19,000' and descended the basin to the west (where Steve House’s 2004 solo goes).
We realize that opinions vary on what constitutes a new route (such as joining an existing line or reaching prominent landmarks), but we do have some standards. As we whimpered back to camp, it seemed quite clear to us who got the better of our little exchange with K7.
Of note, farther right on the east face were some spectacular-looking ice lines. The bottom portions, however, were gushing waterfalls while we were there, and though we stayed in the valley another 10 days or so after our attempt, a ton of snow fell and we never ventured back up to the east face.
Kelly Cordes, AAC