Showing posts from 2006

Arête des Cosmiques (II AD, 4a), Aiguille du Midi

In mild blizzard conditions we managed to climb Arête des Cosmiques. The lower part of the route had virtually no snow but after the abseils the route was in good condition.

Decorps-Perroux Couloir (D/D+ / II 2), Tour Ronde

With an acclimatisation climb under our belts we decided to up the anti a little bit today. We rose before dawn and trekked around to Tour Ronde. During my my June trip I had taken note of the line to the right of the North Face route called Decorps-Perroux Couloir (or North Couloir in the AC guide). It appeared to offer more mixed terrain compared to the North Face and went at a slightly more challenging grade.

Phil did not feel up to the climb so Jon and me climbed as a pair today. The lower portion of the route was thin on ice so we started to the right. There was some good ice in the middle pitches. Towards the top the snow was a bit powdery. Rather than veer left onto the North Face towards the top we chose to stay right of the summit, which seemed the natural continuation for the route. It was dusk by the time we reached the top of the route. We down-climbed the Gervasutti Couloir in darkness and walked back to the Abri Simmonds Hut feeling exhausted. A great mixed route and a f…

Contamine-Grisolle (II AD, 350m)

Jon, Phil and me climbed Contamine-Grisolle on the Tacul Triangle for acclimatisation purposes. The lower slopes of the Triangle were icy and lean but the snow conditions on our route were excellent. The route was of no great difficulty and we moved together for the entirety. We abseiled down the Western side of triangle on completion.

Tricked by a False Summit

Peter had light alloy crampons that didn't work but a good axe...

Lee had a light walking axe that didn't work but good crampons...

We left the rope and rack...

“I know of an easy, unclimbed six thousand meter peak that I might try up Chapursan way” mentioned Peter. To date the unclimbed peaks above 6000m that we had tried to climb during our long summer in Pakistan had proved to be either very hard or very dangerous – or both! Twice we had summited a virgin peak only find the altimeter reading less than 6000m.

Much of the summer had been spent climbing soft snow, sugary ice and poor rock. I was tired of crap climbing conditions. The walk-ins had been long and many-a-day had been spent crossing glaciers and climbing endless scree. One peak had involved a day and a half walk from base camp just to start the climb! I looked forward to being abe to take a cable car from Chamonix up to the Aiguille du Midi station and be on a route next morning without too much effort. I liked the…

First Ascent of Haigutum East

26/07/06: Day one
I slept through my alarm which sounded at 1am but was woken soon after by an avalanche somewhere on the slopes above our bivi sight. Not sure if it had been a dream I rose, packed my sack and had breakfast. Our bowls were still lined with grease leftover from the fatty Chinese noodles from last night having been unable to scrub it off. We ate our porridge with few complaints however. Within minutes of donning my crampons my newly installed front points clumsily struck their first target of the day in the form of my only platypus water bottle putting a big splice in its side. Fortunately Peter, my climbing partner, had two one litre water bottles, one of which he kindly leant me.

We had bivi’ed at the bottom of the glacier descending from the unclimbed peak of Haigutum East that we were to attempt. The mountain forms part of the stunning Bal Chhish peaks on the southern side of the Hispar Glacier. Our route to the high bivi, which we had identified from our base camp…

Rocked by Shimshal Whitehorn

The morning started in the worst fashion! Both Ben and Peter failed to hear their alarms sound at midnight and it was not until I happened to look at my watch at 12.45 that we rose. We ate and packed quickly however, and were soon climbing towards the ‘couloir of 1000 gutters’, nicknamed by the previous French expedition because of the constant rock fall that hurtled down the couloir’s numerous runnels. Despite the late start I was feeling fresh having retired to my bivi bag before sunset. We had bivied at approximately 4600m on a patch of glacier beneath the north face of Shimshal Whitehorn where we figured we would be safe from any rocks or avalanches hitting us in the night. We initially made good progress towards the couloir however more delays were soon to arise. Ben who was leading the way at a good pace dropped his pack close to the bergschrund and started sifting through its contents. 'Shit, I’ve left my bivi bag behind!' he confessed. I sat on my pack beside Peter say…

A New Route on Yazghil Sar (5964m)

Back in Pakistan
I was going back to Shimshal, the remote mountain village in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, home to an amazing twenty villagers (at last count) who have summited an 8000m peak. It was only twelve months since I had first visited the village but I had seen enough to prompt a quick return. Our main goal was to climb the beautiful Shimshal Whitehorn, whose intimidating north face rises above the village. The first objective however was Yazghil Sar, which was intended to use for acclimatisation. The previous year I had seen this peak on route to the Shimshal Pamir and it struck me as being ideally suited for acclimatisation due to its easy gradient and minimal objective dangers.

The expedition consisted of Peter Thompson and me (Lee Harrison), who were in Pakistan for the duration of the summer of 2006, along with Greg Nunn and Ben Cheek who were in Pakistan for the first month to be spent in Shimshal. Greg is a fellow climbing club member at Salford University.

We had …