Ralf Dujmovits and Nancy Hansen attempted the unclimbed Biarchedi I, a 6781m peak south of the Baltoro Glacier in Pakistan.
It didn’t work out for them but as always their adventures are always worth watching.
Here are their latest updates:
“After five days of rain in the Charakusa Valley, we of course hiked out under blue skies. Now, back in Skardu, we are enjoying our last few days in Pakistan. Yesterday, we visited the beautiful and lush Shigar Valley with its historic mosques and palace. Over the past 30 years of expeditions to the Karakoram, I never took the time to stop in Shigar on the way to Askole and the start of the Baltoro trek.
In the first picture, my wife Nancy and I are sitting under a 400-year old maple tree beside the beautifully restored Shigar Fort – absolutely worth a visit.”
“The beautiful and rugged Charakusa Valley -or better to say: its weather- didn‘t allow us to see and explore much of its beauty, let alone do a climb. Two short weather windows allowed for half-day excursions, but most of the six days we spent in the valley were filled with rain, hail and snowfall. One of the main attractions, K6, remained hidden in the clouds, but at least it made a good background for this pretty, unnamed needle on Fathi Brakk.”
“Yesterday, after three days of rain, we had a few hours of sunshine here in the Charakusa Valley of Pakistan. And now we know the mountains actually exist! It is an impressive area with steep-sided peaks, big icefalls and lots of granite spires – both big and small.”
“Four weeks ago, in crystal clear weather, I took this picture of the seldomly climbed K7 (6,934 m/ the rocktower on the left is K7 Middle (6,858)) from Saicho Camp at the entrance of the Charakusa Valley, 25 km distant. Since then, the daily weather pattern has been constantly unsettled and moist. Still, I had the wish to see this gem of a valley known for its high end alpinism – but so far we haven’t seen anything other than rain, snow, clouds and mist (see 2nd picture). Nancy and I hope we get a glimpse of some of the many granite towers and icy summits in the next few days before we leave the Karakoram.”
“Yesterday morning, the 1st of July, we woke up in the rain, packed up our muddy tent and said, ‘Goodbye’ to our basecamp (this picture I took during one of three sunny days in the last three weeks). Thunderstorms chased us down the 20 km descent to Saicho camp (3,400 m). I don’t want to imagine how we might have felt if we had continued our ascent of Biarchedi I….”
“Now we are hoping for just a few days of better weather to have a quick look at the Charakusa Valley with its huge granite spires and icy summits. Since I came to Saicho for the first time more than 20 years ago, it has been on my ‘bucket list’ to see this valley and its impressive peaks at least one time.”
“Last Friday, when we began our attempt to climb Biarchedi I (6,810 m), despite a bad weather forecast, we had a beautiful day and we made good progress. The next day, as usual, we were sitting all day in our tent in a complete whiteout and heavy snowfall.”
“We needed six days of good weather in order to get safely up and down the remote, unclimbed Biarchedi I (6,810 m) in Pakistan’s Karakoram mountains. With a forecast of 4.5 days of good weather, we headed up, but the snow started again after only one day and our good weather window was shortened to 2.5 days – not nearly what we needed.”
“After an additional 30-40 cm of new snow, we headed down, bringing all of our things with us from our high point at 5,650 m (see picture). It is always terribly disappointing to have invested so much time, energy and money into such a trip, only to be shut down by almost three weeks of bad weather. Luck was not on our side.”
“Nancy and Ralf have started their 7 or 8 day attempt to reach the summit of unclimbed Biarchedi I (6,810m). Today, in quite unsettled weather, they have reached Camp I.” (Update from Nicola, assistant of Ralf.)
“Yesterday afternoon, after 5 days and 4 nights on the mountain, Nancy and I came back to basecamp for some days of recovery. During these five days, we had almost entirely crappy weather with over 40 cm of fresh snow and a total of 6 hours of sunshine. Still, we reached our goals: we acclimatized to an altitude of 5,650 m and found our route to the steep-sided col which will allow us to approach the unclimbed Biarchedi I (6,810 m).
“Some of you have asked where exactly we are climbing: you can see the first part of our convoluted route in red – which starts from our beautiful basecamp at 4,550 m to the col (5,650 m).”
“More pictures from our adventure will come in the next few days. Unfortunately, here in basecamp, I can’t access Instagram directly; so comments and direct messages will mostly be unanswered until our return to civilization.”
“After perfect weather for our trek to basecamp, the snow has arrived along with stomach problems for Nancy. Still, we’ve managed to get a closer look 500 m higher at one of the access cruxes on our attempt and deposit some gear near the base of it. The bad weather should be with us for at least the next couple of days, after which we should be ready to go for some further exploration and sleeping higher.”
“The first two full days after arrival at any basecamp, I always take it easy – just arrange the basecamp and acclimatize! We came way too fast to 4550 m at our basecamp for Biarchedi I – so our bodies are still in a deficit of acclimatisation.
“And so it’s smart to just rest and give the body enough time to run through all the physiological processes which are necessary to get along with an O2-pressure which is close to 50% of what it is at sea level.”
“We have happily arrived at our basecamp at 4,500 m at the base of the Biarchedi group in the mighty Karakoram mountains of Pakistan.
“Since we arrived eight days ago, everything has gone incredibly smoothly and we have been warmly welcomed by everyone we meet.
“We enjoyed getting to know our porters on the way up under constant blue skies and bright stars. Every night, our cook and friend Ehsan makes great food which we eat in front of five-star panoramic views.
“To say we are fortunate is an understatement.”