Great Trango Tower, northwest face, Bushido
Pakistan, Karakoram, Baltoro Muztagh
On August 19, Marcin Tomaszewski and I completed a new route on the northwest face of Great Trango. We arrived at Trango base camp on July 29 and were carrying loads to the foot of the face the following day. On the 31st we carried loads and fixed five pitches, and the next day carried more loads and fixed a further three, climbing ground similar to but left of the 1999 Russian Route. On August 3 we hauled all our gear up to Camp 1 at the top of pitch eight. At this point we probably crossed the Russian Route. We continued capsule-style, following a beautiful clean-cut granite corner to the right, and then crack and corner systems to the top. On the terraces below the headwall we crossed the 2007 Krasnoyarsk Route.
Portaledge camps were made at the top of pitches 16, 19, and 26, the latter partway up the headwall. We were forced to carry all our water until we reached the terraces, where we found old ice. During the second half of the climb we had snowstorms and were able to melt fresh snow for water. Our route was independent for the first 38 pitches; pitches 38–45 more or less followed Azeem Ridge, Kelly Cordes and Josh Wharton's 2004 route on the southwest ridge. Our final day was more than 24 hours, climbing and descending through a bad storm. The top section of Azeem Ridge seemed somewhat overbolted; we were unaware at the time that these did not originate from the two Americans. [Cordes and Wharton carried no bolt kit, making it likely these bolts were added in 2007 during the Krasnoyarsk ascent, which finished up the ridge.]
During the climb we hand-drilled 21 belay bolts and eight rivets. We were forced to place two rivets beside the offwidth crack of pitch 39 (on Azeem Ridge) because it was snowing hard and there was no chance of free climbing. The rest of the drilled equipment was placed on our independent pitches, including the remaining six rivets on the pitch of A4. In the middle of the night and during a snowstorm, we reached a high point at the top of the ridge, on the long quasi-horizontal section leading to the 6,237m southwest summit. We did not continue along the crest.
The descent proved to be one of the biggest challenges in our mountaineering careers. Our gear was covered in snow, and at night our totally soaked ropes froze solid. We had to cut most of them and only regained our top camp, exhausted, with two 60m ropes remaining. Next morning we began two days of rappelling (ca 25 in total), the first day as far as Camp 3 on the terraces. We reached the bottom with totally shot ropes. Our route Bushido is VII- A4 UIAA VII+.
Marek Raganowicz, Poland