American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Karakoram, Hispar Muztagh, Hispar Sar, Attempt; Emily Peak (Point 5,684m), First Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2009

Hispar Sar, attempt; Emily Peak (Point 5,684m), first ascent. In mid-September I traveled alone to Hunza in northeast Pakistan to attempt the first ascent of Hispar Sar (6,400m), north of the Hispar Glacier. The plan had raised eyebrows among my family and friends, especially among those who climbed, since the commitment involved in attempting a solo ascent of a virgin peak in a remote region of a politically volatile country is certainly immense. I would explain that climbing alone in such an environment placed unique parameters on my risk assessment: It was not more likely that I would suffer disaster, since my level of acceptable risk would be reduced; rather, I was just less likely to reach my summit. Why then did I want to go alone? Many reasons, not least because I wanted to experience the extraordinary responsibility that such commit ment involved.

Hispar Sar presented itself as an accommodating objective for such a project, since, although virgin, it had been well-explored, and it sported a couloir line well-suited to my style of climbing.

During the night of October 2 I left a bivouac beneath the mountain’s southwest face. Above, an attractive couloir, climbed to within 300m of the summit by Andy Parkin and Simon Yates in 2004, wound up the face. It was cold, and the ice was in good condition. Climbing with a very light pack, my rope trailing beneath me, I passed by daybreak the spot where Yates and Parkin had traversed out of the couloir to the right. I carried on to the couloir’s top, where, at 11:15 a.m., 50m or so beneath the south ridge and easy snow slopes leading to the summit, I reached unavoidable slabs covered in unconsolidated snow. I agonized over my decision, but, having reached the limit of commitment acceptable to me, I had to go down. My high point was perhaps 100m beneath the Parkin-Yates high point, and it had taken me 10 hours 15 minutes to climb the 900m couloir, at a grade of ED AI 4/5.

Fortunately, I had already climbed my virgin summit. Leaving my base camp at Jutmal on the morning of September 26,I took 5 hours 25 minutes to reach the summit of nearby point 5,684m. This summit lies just north of Jutmal and west of Hispar Sar, on the other side of the Yutmaru Glacier. It is connected to the prominent rock peak of Jutmal Chhok, which can be seen from the village of Hispar, by a sharp ridge. The straightforward ascent up the scree and snow slopes (to 60°) of the peak’s southwest face went at AD- (500m). Having found no references for any attempt on this peak, I would like to name it Emily Peak. My porters agreed.

Rufus Duits, U.K.

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