|Sunrise on K6 and a few unclimbed gems...|
Short video of McCormick and me climbing the British Route on Nayser Brakk (ca 5200m).
|Children of Haldi.|
|McCormick handing out school supplies in the village of Haldi.|
Before our travels began the few random folks I discussed the trip with seemed mortified at the prospect of visiting Pakistan, particularly to go rock climbing. I’ll admit a bit of trepidation, but was hardly convinced we would see, or even concerned about…well…you know…”them.. the Taliban” as a few put it. Will Meinen, being a Canadian had to drive across the CN/US boarder to meet Matt and me for our flight outa Boston. He said the customs officer at the gate was so harsh with disdain in regards to his Pakistan Visa and travel plans that it made his mother cry. What we found from the people of Pakistan was nothing but hospitality! From tourism based professionals and residents of the larger cities – such as Islamabad – to the families of farmers living in the mud huts of a village of 500, honest and welcoming.
|Basecamp - K7 Pillar on left, K6 on right.|
Nuff said about all that. Yes we did climb, hike and have a great adventure. No we did not walk away with the raddest alpine send of the year, but we did have some success! A few repeat summits and one new summit we dubbed Fida Brakk (ca 5350) – it seems the tradition to name the summits in honor of your local guide - a close neighbor to Fathi Brakk. Honestly we had intended on the route as another “warm-up” for the real deal across the valley. But she pretty much gave us full on battle! We thought one long 24 hr push, but spent the better part of two days up there (July 6-7) finishing up in the snow and rain – much of the terrain looked simul-climbable. What we got was mostly consistent 5.10R climbing with many pitches to 11+R and one possible 5.12- pitch (a pure beauty – splitter tips crack to funky face climbing, with great ledge fall potential)…yay! But seriously, the route looked chill from the ground; it follows a steep snow couloir to an obvious ridge line feature with a sweet spiked summit. We found no evidence of previous travelers and named our new rig The Jenga Spur, V+ 5.11+R A.0, 1050m. We had one 70 foot rappel and a tension traverse on the way up, but other than that the beast went free.
|Fida Brakk (middle of three spikes on left) Fathi Brakk (just right of Fida), and Nayser Brakk (on right) - basking in full moon light.|
|The line of ascent on Fida Brakk (ca 5350m).|
|McCormick at ABC under Farol Peak. Note the pot-pan stereo.|
We experienced the best weather the first few weeks, and then it was pretty much one and half to two days of sunny skies followed by a buildup and eventual dumb for three to four days. This cycle crushed our chances at the K7 Pillar, but we still had a great time and made a few new friends along the way!! A full on 3-4 part blog roll will come out in September via Mountain Hardwear, so stay tunned.
|Self portrait on the drive out, shortly before they let me drive the remaining 6 hours back to Skardu.|
Also, this trip would not have been possible without the support from: The Copp/Dash Inspire Award, The Shipton/Tilman Award, Mountain Hardwear, Sterling Ropes, Petzl, Metolius, Julbo, Evolv and LaSportiva!! Thanks y’all!!