Summer 2017: Nanga Parbat Mazeno Ridge, K2 Ski Challenge, Gasherbrum New Routes and More

A smooth start to the Pakistan climbing season thus far, where bureaucratic and logistical issues aren’t often unexpected otherwise. One of Nanga Parbat teams is already on the mountain. Karakoram climbers are on the way to Base Camps.

“Today we hiked in the searing sun to Paiju (3400m). As we neared camp here we got our first glimpse of the start of the Baltoro Glacier and our first view of the incredible mountain views to come. We rest here tonight and tomorrow as well,“ Grace McDonald wrote yesterday. They flew to Skardu on June 8th, drove to Askole on 10th and trekked to Jhula camp, next day. Grace is attempting Broad Peak with a group of international climbers.

Aerial view of Nanga Parbat; Mazeno Ridge appears along right side of photo. Courtesy: Alberto Zerain

Nanga Parbat
Alberto Zerain and Mariano Galvan are on the way to Nanga Parbat to attempt Mazeno Ridge. The two climbers intend to carry forward the acclimatization from Nepal (Annapurna and Lhotse respectively). Alberto attempted the then unclimbed Mazeno Ridge in 2011. However, a year later Sandy Allan and Rick Allen completed the 11km traverse which includes eight peaks above 6000m.

There will be at least two teams on Diamir side this season. Dreamers Destination team led by Mingma Gyalje Sherpa have already reached the mountain. Mingma climbed Dhaulagiri and Makalu earlier this year and plans to attempt K2 after Nanga Parbat. The team includes Iranian Raza Shahlaee and a couple of climbers from China.

Korean team led by Kim Hong Bin has reached Islamabad and will be leaving for the Nanga Parbat in next couple of days. Last year, bad conditions on Kinshofer route forced them to abandon the climb without success.

From Islamabad to Skardu; first group of climbers have been lucky not to face any flight delays. Courtesy: WOPeak

K2 and Broad Peak
Multiple climbers are attempting K2, Broad Peak and the double header this season. Polish climber Andrzej Bargiel plans to ski down from K2 summit. In 2015, the Pole was one of the two climbers to summit Broad Peak. He climbed solo and skied down from main summit. In fall 2014, he climbed Manaslu in a record time of 14 hours, 5 minutes and made a skiing descent.

Other K2/Broad Peak teams include Himex, international team led by Vanessa O'Brien, Austrian Furtenbach Adventures Expedition, a small team from USA and Polish national team led by Jerzy Natkanski.
On Broad Peak, there will be Oscar Cadiach - Spaniard looking for his last summit to complete 14x8000 without supplemental oxygen.

Climbers visiting historic Buddha rock carving at Manthal Skardu. Courtesy: Asghar Ali Porik

Gasherbrums
Some of the climbers return to Gasherbrum I & II to complete the unfinished business of yesteryears. Spaniards Alberto Inurrategi, Juan Vallejo and Mikel Zabalza are already in Skardu to resume the GI-GII traverse via different route in alpine style. The conditions were too dangerous for the project last year.

Later in the season, Czech climber Marek Holecek will be returning for another attempt on GI SW Face. He has already spent several year on this project. Besides, there will be few commercial expeditions and some independent climbers on Gasherbrums.

Last but not the least, Bruce Normand will be leading a four member team on Gasherbrum IV.

From Skardu, Karakoram climbers drive in jeeps to Askole and begin the Baltoro trek to respective BCs. Courtesy: Grace McDonald

Other Peaks
Apart from five eight-thousanders, several interesting expeditions are planned on lower peaks. These expeditions, as listed here, will be kicking off later in the season.

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