American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Karakoram, Hispar Muztagh, Disteghil, Sar, Attempt

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

Disteghil Sar, attempt. In June, Don Bowie, Peter Thompson, Ben Cheek, and I attempted the north ridge of Disteghil Sar (7,885m). Because of the badly convoluted nature of the Malangutti Glacier, this aspect of the world’s 20th-highest mountain has only been reached once in three attempts, and that expedition ended in tragedy when three New Zealand climbers were lost. I had visited the neighboring Yazghil Glacier in 1999 and from the summit of a 6,247m peak had discovered an alternative route to the base of this side of Disteghil Sar. The 2008 plan involved crossing Peak 6,247m, then 8km of the upper glacier basin to the foot of the north ridge at 6,000m, and making an alpine-style bid on this steep, partly mixed objective.

The expedition arrived in Shimshal on June 8 and placed base camp beside the Yazghil Glacier on June 10. It was immediately clear that the lower Yazghil was significantly more broken than in 1999. A quick reconnaissance to the meadow of Parigoz, base camp in 1999, revealed that the glacier directly above it had disintegrated badly and was no longer passable. We found a separate drainage system and climbed compact earth, scree, a remnant glacier, and a soft snow slope to rejoin the 1999 route on the northeast ridge of Peak 6,247m at 5,700m. The last 500m of the ridge required multiple efforts by Bowie and me, using a number of strands of fixed rope to pass crevasses that were absent in 1999.I estimated the ridge would need 10m of compact snow and ice to restore it to its former condition.

On July 4 Bowie and I reached the summit of Peak 6,247m to find that the decay and destruction continued to the summit of Disteghil Sar. The next day we made a reconnaissance of the upper basin by descending 700m and 4km into it. Crevasse fields and serac avalanche tracks complicated the route to Disteghil Sar’s north ridge, which itself had far more exposed rock than I had seen. With the backup plan of a snow route on the north side of Disteghil Sar East out of the question for similar reasons, the expedition was at a premature end. The four of us spent the night in our Camp 2 on Peak 6,247m and the next three days stripping the route and returning to base camp.

Bruce Normand. Switzerland

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