American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Asia, Pakistan, Karakoram, Baltoro Muztagh, Broad Peak North (7,750m), West Face and South Ridge, then Traverse Over Broad Peak Central (8,011m) to Broad Peak Main (8,051m)

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2011

Broad Peak North (7,750m), west face and south ridge, then traverse over Broad Peak Central (8,011m) to Broad Peak Main (8,051m). On July 9 Alberto Iñurrategi, Juan Vallejo, and Mikel Zabalza reached the summit of Broad Peak North after climbing a new line up the west-facing glaciated slopes leading directly to the 7,350m col between the north and central summits. The weather was very windy, and after the short ascent of the south ridge to North Peak, they spent a rough night back at the col. Their goal was to continue to the Main summit and the next day they would face the hardest section of this traverse: the ascent of the north ridge of Central peak. Receiving a weather forecast that confirmed strong winds continuing for the next two days, the three decided to return to base camp.

The Basque trio set out again on the 16th and regained the col on the 17th after a bivouac at ca 6,300m. The same day Iñurrategi repeated their previous ascent of the south ridge to the summit of Broad Peak North. All three left the col at 3 a.m. the next day, expecting it to take 11–12 hours to reach the summit of Broad Peak Central and descend to a bivouac on the 7,800m col before the Main summit. They were wrong. Although they climbed the first 400m of the ridge in two hours, it took another 10 to finish the remaining 300m and then two more to negotiate the summit ridge. Snow conditions were abysmal, and at one point they took five hours to gain only 50m of elevation. All declared it was the worst snow they had ever experienced.

By the time they arrived at the 7,800m col, they had been on the go for 17 hours, were exhausted, and—having traveled very light—were completely out of food. As it was nearly dark, they decided to descend to Camp 3 at 7,100m on the Normal Route.

After just seven hours rest, only Iñurrategi felt like getting up at 3 a.m. and going for the main summit. In an exhausted state and suffering from stomach pains it still took him only six hours to reach the top via the upper section of the Normal Route, a faster time than most fresh and well-provisioned mountaineers would clock for this section. The saving grace was that he was able to follow a track opened by other climbers several days previously. He regained camp in just over four hours, from where all three descended the Normal Route.

The traverse of the three Broad Peaks summits had only been achieved on two previous occasions. In 1984 Kukuczka and Kurtyka started via the northwest ridge of Broad Peak North, and this same line was repeated again in 1995 by Toru Hattori, Toshiyuki Kitamura, and Masafumi Todaka from Japan. All three traverses have been made alpine-style.

Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO

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