Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nanga Parbat Expedition

Amongst our many customers here at Mahers, we have some very adventurous people - Going off on all kinds of trips that would leave you either very jealous or glad you weren't going because you couldn't cope with what they are going to do (or maybe that's just me being a wuss). This is "proper" mountaineering.

Nanga parbat (yeah, the photo on the right).

This, for me at least, falls in to the latter as it's one serious undertaking - One of the most dangerous mountains in the world, never before summitted in winter. Yes, that's right - it has never been summitted in winter - by anyone, ever. I think that says quite alot about what these guys are doing.

So before we get into the people, kit lists, itinerary etc, lets have a more detailed look at what they are to expect when they get to that big mountain in Pakistan. (Much of this is copied from summitpost.org so thanks to them for the info as my knowledge was fairly limited).

Nanga Parbat is located in the Northern Area of Pakistan and is the Western bastion of the Himalaya. It is the nineth highest mountain in the world and the second highest in Pakistan after K2. Steeped in a history matched by few others in Asia it has staged some of the greatest Himalayan ascents of all time. From Hermann Buhl’s solo first ascent in 1953 via the Upper North ridge to Gunther and Reinhold Messner’s first ascent of the Rupal Face in 1970 via the South South East Spur, Messner’s solo climb of the Diamir Face in 1978, and more recently Vince Anderson and Steve House’s Alpine-style ascent of the Central Pillar of the Rupal Face. These epic climbs continue to inspire climbers to attempt yearly what is considered to be the second hardest 8000m mountain after K2.

Nanga Parbat is, according to those who have seen her in person, a truly awesome spectacle. The south face is the largest in the world extending over four kilometres above base camp. I can only imagine what this must look like up close and personal - the photos i have seen online are awe inspiring enough.

The Rupal Face (yeah, that photo on the right).

To date there have only been five ascents from the south.

The north face is equally intimidating. In contrast to the south face’s steep rock and ice the snowy north face is guarded by a broad barrier of seracs that extend the width of the mountain. Climbers before the Second World War were convinced that the only way to climb the mountain was from the north via a long arc extending over Rakhiot Peak (7010m), between the two summits of Silberzacken and finally to the summit of Nanga Parbat thereby avoiding a more direct ascent of the north face. The route was dangerously prone to avalanche and exposed to bad weather. 31 people died attempting to climb the mountain leading to it acquiring the infamous name of the “Killer Mountain”.

Hermann Buhl’s summit route has only been repeated once (Slovak, 1971) to this day. His ascent marked only the third 8000m ascent after Annapurna I (1950) and Everest and was the only first summit of all the 8000ers to be done without oxygen and of course solo. Most attempts nowadays are via the Westerly Diamir face which is generally considered to be the easiest and safest with the Kinshofer Route the normal route. Nanga Parbat, as of 2005, had received 263 ascents by 261 individuals (Messner and SP Member Qudrat Ali have climbed it twice) at a price of 62 deaths. Sixteen women have summited the mountain. Numerous challenging lines still await. The most difficult is an ascent of Nanga Parbat via the unclimbed Mazeno Ridge which constitutes the longest ridge in the world. A number of expeditions have made ‘attempts’ on the mountain during winter but to no avail.

So that gives you all a little background on the mountain and the conditions these guys are likely to endure when attempting a winter ascent - We will return with more info in part two, covering the route they will be attempting, kit they will be using and a general itinerary starting from the flights out at the start of January.

It is well worth looking up some more info yourself as well as we haven't even scraped the surface of how bad conditions can get on Nanga Parbat and looking at detailed descriptions and of the routes makes for some fascinating reading.

until next time.

captain disco

This was written some time ago but not published due to technical issues so apologies for being a little behind schedule - the guys are in Pakistan, have base camp set up and from what i can gather have so far managed to get to camp 2 - the weather around Nanga Parbat is (as you will read if you look for further details on previous attempts) unpredictable to say the least so the guys are waiting patiently and doing what they can when they can.

For ongoing updates and photos from the guys, either catch up with us here or check their page - nangadream.blogspot.com

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