Rupal Peak (c.5500m), Pakistan

I rose at 4.30am and prepared myself for my first Himalayan ascent. We had camped at approximately 4600m beneath Rupal Peak, which lies on the south side of the Rupal Valley. The climb to our base camp had afforded us some spectacular views of the Rupal Face and Mazeno Ridge of Nanga Parbat to our North. Today I would try and climb Rupal Peak together with a couple of Frenchmen called Nicolas and Vincent that I had met in Tashkurgan, China. With virtually no climbing experience between us we would be guided by Abdul Bari Rana of Lost Horizons Tours, and Ali, a local high altitude porter from the Tarashing valley.

Rupal Peak in the evening shadow of Nanga Parbat

Rupal Peak base camp (c.4600m)

We left camp at 5.30am. After crossing a short boulder section we were onto glacier. Nicolas and Vincent were slipping on their backsides every few seconds and I hit the deck once as well. Bari suggested we don crampons, which Nicolas and Vincent promptly did. I decided to persist without and managed this by stepping on the small stones that stuck up through the glacier.

View to Nanga Parbat from the glacial approach to Rupal Peak

At the base of the mountain we all donned crampons and roped up. We had no harnesses and so had to tie the rope around our wastes. The glacier on the lower slopes fairly broken up. Difficult ground presented near the base of the climb in the form of a short section of sheer rock covered in soft snow. Ali swiftly climbed it and then assisted us up the difficult step from above.

The way to the summit then largely followed gentle snow slopes, which were not overly technical or heavily crevasses. With little in the way of acclimatisation the climbing was very tiring for me. The snow was also soft, and sinking feet would further leave their mark on my tired body. Close to the summit there was a tricky ridge of loose rocks to traverse before regaining the snow slopes. We paused at a col, where there were good views of the peaks to the South, before continuing a little further to the summit for 11am arrival. It wasn't quite the absolute summit as there was a small rock tower nearby but Bari informed us that nobody bothers to climb this.

At the col a short distance below the summit

The summit - the irony of our banner was that the peak was more like 5500m

After some photos we made a quick descent - too quick for me. I slipped twice and slid a short distance down the mountain slopes before jamming my ice axe in the snow to arrest myself. By 1.30pm we were already back at base camp.

Our route to the summit

Then the headaches began. I took some Paracetamol and retied to my tent to lie down. I skipped lunch and chose to nap instead. Time was pressing and I could not rest throughout the afternoon as the plan was to descend back to the valley that day. We left at 4pm. I took my time whilst admiring the vies to the Rupal Glacier below. I arrived long after everyone else. My appetite had at least returned but my energy levels were depleted and I couldn't be bothered to fully erect my tent that night. It looked highly unlikely to rain but the presence of mosquitoes encouraged me to at least erect the fly sheet. I fell asleep beneath the stars. As much as I had enjoyed the climb my initial feelings were that mountaineering was not for me. How this view would change with time...


  1. I am gratefully honoured to hike in the Rupal peak in August 2013 . After thoroughly making a glance on the expedition summit by Lee Harrison and Mr. Abdul Bari i am highly encouraged.

    Rana Naik Alam (Dupty Leader 2nd Green Rupal Peak 5642m Peace Expedition 2013)

  2. Dear Lee Harrison,

    Love to Read this post. i am a son of your Guide Abdul Bari from Pakistan. I am sure i saw you but i didn't remember.
    i will read your post to my father when he comes back home.

    1. Thanks! I just read this for the first time in years as well. I can't believe it's nearly 15 years ago.


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