AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Asia, Pakistan, Nangma Valley, Igor Brakk, Inshallah

Igor Brakk, Inshallah. In July, Toni Caporale, Maurizio Felici, Alessandro Palmerini, and I opened Inshallah (610m, ABO- VII A0, ice 70°) on Igor Brakk (5,010m) in the Amin Brakk group of the Nangma Valley. The initial goal of our Abruzzo-based expedition was the ascent of a virgin peak in the Charakusa Valley, followed by an attempt on Broad Peak, but once in the region we found it would be impossible to travel to or from the Charakusa through Gondogoro Pass, and so we had to make a virtue of necessity.

We decided to visit the Nangma Valley, which we knew only through photos shared by friends. We had to be at the Broad Peak base camp by July 15, and time was tight. After six days in the Nangma Valley, five of which passed in the rain, we had only four days to climb. With our initial ideas for a big-wall route wrecked, we were forced to climb in alpine style, light and fast, although the peaks that surrounded us are not the best for this style.

After a sleepless night because of Toni’s intestinal illness, which forced him to stay behind, we approached our chosen climb. We had already cached some of our equipment at the base. The first 200m were inside a winding gully with short steps up to V+, interspersed with unstable boulders that we took care to leave in place. Finally we were under the main wall.

The steep climbing began with a frozen channel of black ice covered with debris, protected with cams placed between rock and ice. Cracks that appeared inviting were filled with gravel and wet sand. In subsequent pitches, after passing an overhang with aid (A0), the inclination of the wall decreased, but lack of holds and blind cracks made progress uncertain. The pitches followed with constant difficulties. The precariousness of the protection was discouraging, and we alternated leads to let the tension diminish from the pitch just led.

Finally, exhausted by the altitude, we touched the summit at 5:30 p.m. We dedicated our ascent to our lost friends Stefano Imperatori and Alberto Bianchetti, and installed a commemorative plaque entrusted to us by CAI dell’Aquila. The descent by rappel lasted until 9 p.m. We decided to call our climb Inshallah, which means in one sense “to hope”—above all the hope of returning soon to the Nangma Valley’s Eldorado of granite.

Agostino Cittadini, Italy