Nanga Parbat: Northwest Face via Diama Glacier, Previously Unreported Attempt and Other History

Pakistan, Nanga Parbat
Author: Lindsay Griffin. Climb Year: 2008. Publication Year: 2017.

In 1895, having attempted the so-called Mummery Rib of Nanga Parbat to 6,100m, the celebrated British alpinist Alfred Mummery, accompanied by two Gurkhas, Gorman Singh and Ragobir Thapa, headed up the Diama Glacier in an attempt to reach the northern (Rakhiot) side of the mountain via 6,300m Diama Pass on the east ridge of Ganalo Peak. They were never seen again.

In 1988, Karl Herrligkoffer began organizing a succession of expeditions to find a new route up the mountain, starting with attempts on the Mummery Rib in 1988 and ’89. In 1990 he changed plans to an attempt on the northwest side of the peak via the Diama Glacier. Sepp Walter led the 1990 expedition, which did not get far due to serious objective danger. However, the following year, a ski expedition led by Peter Worgotter climbed the main northwest face toward the north summit, with Herbert Rainer reaching 7,400m.

In 2000 another team tried this line, ignoring past events and billing it as a first. Hanspeter Eisendle, Hubert and Reinhold Messner, and Wolfgang Tomaseth found the Diama Glacier truly treacherous but managed to progress up the northwest face to about 7,500m, where they intersected with the 1978 Slovak Route, which had reached Nanga Parbat’s 7,816m north top (AAJ 2001).

A previously unreported attempt on this unfinished route came in 2008, when Markus Gschwendt and Clara Kulich (Austria) reached a new high point using skis. The approach up the Diama Glacier from the standard 4,250m Kinshofer Route base camp presented serious route-finding difficulties, due to impressive seracs and crevasses. (However, Gschwendt believes that in some years an easy passage could be found by keeping to the south flank.) Moving on skis over terrain rated F to PD+, the pair made camps at 5,100m, 5,800m, 6,400m, 7,000m, and 7,600m. Bad weather set in and prevented them from climbing to the north top; the pair retreated from a small col just below and south of it at 7,760m.

In January 2012, Simone Moro and Denis Urubko reached 6,800m on the same line, and during the winter of 2014-’15, Tomas Mackiewicz (Poland) and Elizabeth Revol (France) reported reaching 7,800m (likely the same point as the Austrians). Mackiewicz and Revol tried again in 2015-’16, making to 7,500m with Arsalan Ahmed Ansari (Pakistan).

From the small col at 7,760m, it would be possible to reach the 8,126m main summit either by following the original 1953 route or by traversing to the upper Kinshofer Route.

– Lindsay Griffin, from information provided by Markus Gschwendt, Austria 

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