Asia, Pakistan, Karun Koh, First Ascent

Publication Year: 1985.

Karun Koh, First Ascent. Our expedition consisted of Oskar Bubbnik, Walter Krampf, Heinz Zimmermann and me as leader. Although we had obtained permission for the K12 group, that area was closed for political reasons. We picked Karun Koh as an alternative. We left the Karakoram Highway at Pasu on June 9 with 38 porters. We were not allowed the easy approach through Marchum and had to follow the Shimshal valley upriver for one-and-a-half days. Then we constructed a rope bridge to cross the Shimshal River and continued over the Karumpir Pass (4850 meters). After leaving the river, we had no water available for two days. We reached Base Camp on June 13 at 4900 meters on the Karun Koh Glacier. The British-Pakistani team was already there, hoping to climb Korun Koh via the west shoulder and southwest ridge. The main difficulty was getting around the three pinnacles. It started with a steep 45° to 50° traverse to the right of the ridge and continued on the east side over mixed terrain, in places 55° to 60°, to a small saddle above them. From there a corniced ridge broken once by rock led to an ice ramp and the summit face. We set up Advance Base at 5200 meters, then Camps I and II at 5800 and 6000 meters on June 24 and 28. We joined Bonington’s group to place fixed ropes on the traverse. Neither group had enough rope to accomplish this alone. Then we struck a long stretch of bad weather and time ran out for the Bonington party, which had to leave on July 7. On July 12 a break in the weather allowed us the first ascent of a 6200-meter (20,342-foot) peak west of Karun Koh. We spent the 13th and 14th carrying loads from Camp I to Camp II. From July 15 to 17 we fixed ropes on the pinnacles traverse. The next day we set up Camp III on the saddle above the pinnacles at 6700 meters. We were all set to make the summit push, but storm conditions pinned us down for three days. Our food ran out and so we descended to Base Camp to wait for better weather. Bubbnik had to leave for lack of time. Finally on July 29 we started for Camp II. Camp III was reoccupied on the 30th. The next day the weather was still unsettled but we set out. We overcame the poor ice on the ridge and reached the ramp above the rock section. From there we climbed the summit face. It was 45° to 60° sheer ice in places. At 4:30 on July 31 we reached the summit (7350 meters, 24,115 feet).

Harry Grün, Österreichischer Alpenverein