Matthew Eakin was an experienced aussie climber. He died, while descending from K2 after having stood on the summit. His body, spotted around ABC, was covered by a small avalanche while a team was trying to recover him. Now a GoFundme is raised for giving him a dignified burial . MONTAGNAMAGICA support this goal. PLEASE,DEAR FOLLOWERS OF THIS PAGE, CONSIDER DONING TO HELP REALISE THIS !
When my dear friend Louis Rousseau (*), respected and experienced climber, photographer,contacted me about the story of his friend Matthew Eakin , asking me to share the GoFundMe raised by friends&family , I wasn’t surprised to learn that he share the goal of financing a Winter Expedition aimed to recover Matt body and give him a dignified burial. He told me that it wasn’t important write his name – he’s an incredible humble man, a kind and emphatic human , with a bucket of life’s and climbing’s values that I share with him and my respect and trust for him is total.
Someone asked “Why going up to recover a body on the mountain? isn’t better to leave him in the place he loved to be doing what he dreamed ?” The answer was simple: Matthew body is located in a precise and known location near the Abruzzi Spur “normal” route, and the probability that in Spring his remains could be exposed to people climbing there is high.
“a dignified burial is something written since thousands years. A desire of the family that should be shared with empathy by anyone.
Press Release on GoFundMe
Matthew Eakin died on July 25, 2022, on his descent from the summit of K2, the world’s second highest mountain, in Pakistan. It’s unlikely the exact circumstances of his death will ever be known, but he fell on the Abruzzi route and was found just a few metres above Advance Base Camp.
Matt was found by two men, and just after they left to get help a small avalanche struck and buried him. Over the following two days, teams attempted to dig Matt out of the snow and ice, but despite their very best efforts were unsuccessful at that time. Matt remains buried, but his location is well known.
An expedition is now being organised from with climbers from Australia and Canada to attempt to find Matt and bring him home. “A very generous group of Matt’s close friends has offered to go to Pakistan to attempt to retrieve him, so that he may be buried with respect and dignity”, explained Matthew’s sister, Danielle Bonnington.
“Usually following an avalanche, a deceased person’s location is unknown. But in this case, Matt’s location is known, and the geography of that location means that his body can’t move far from where he was found. Given this, we have an opportunity to retrieve and bury him with dignity, rather than risk the possibility of snow melt uncovering his body sometime in the future. Our family, understandably, doesn’t want this for Matt,” Ms Bonnington added.
“If it is safe for members of a search team, we believe that all climbers who die in the mountains while pursuing their passion should have a chance to be found and buried, to ease the grieving process for families and friends. Our family is incredibly humbled by the offer of Matt’s friends to help to lay him to rest with dignity. We know their offer to help reflects their love for him.
The small team plans to head to Pakistan over a 3-week period in February 2023. This is when it is expected that conditions are most optimal and safest. Matt’s location has been marked by GPS so the chances that he can be found are high. The team also plan to use a ground-penetrating radar to improve those chances even further.
“As far as we are aware, this type of operation to retrieve a loved one several months or years after the incident, has only been carried out on very rare occasions in the history of mountaineering. Deceased climbers are often left on the mountain where they died if they aren’t recovered straight away,” Ms Bonnington said.
K2 is located in the Karakoram region of Pakistan. It is an isolated area in the north-east of the country, bordering China. The operation won’t be an easy task. Just trekking to K2 Base Camp from the nearest village will take 7 days as there are no roads.
Funds raised will help to pay for the trekking permits, local trekking operator fees, flights, and hire of equipment needed to help recover Matt. Matt’s family has advised that any funds raised that aren’t used for the expedition will be donated to the Black Dog Institute.
Matthew grew up on a farm at Cumnock, in central west NSW. He has family connections in Orange and Gilgandra.
He spent his high school years at Red Bend Catholic College, Forbes, and St Joseph’s College Hunters Hill. At university, he studied law and finance and was a highly regarded business tax lawyer in Sydney.
Matt was an avid adventurer and lover of the outdoors, getting his adrenalin hit through mountain biking, skydiving, BASE jumping, and rock and high-altitude mountain climbing.
Matt was also the co-founder of Mountaineers Down Under, an online community with over 3000 members aiming to connect Australians passionate about climbing.
Matt was particularly passionate about high altitude mountaineering, and successfully climbed and lead expeditions in Nepal and Pakistan over the past eight years.
Among the mountains Matt successfully summitted are K2 8611m (Pakistan), Broad Peak 8051m (Pakistan), Manaslu 8163m (Nepal); and Cholatse 6501m (Nepal).
Matt was a much-loved son, brother, uncle and dear friend, with a zest for life like no other. He lived life to its fullest.
“We have been left with a massive Matt-sized hole in our family,” Ms Bonnington said. “The tributes and immense outpourings of grief from his friends and communities he was involved with has helped us realise the impact his life had on so many people right across the world. He considered these friends his family too. His death has left a hole in their worlds too.”
– Family would like burial rather than risk Matt’s body being uncovered through snowmelt.
– Matt’s final location is known, and his body is unlikely to have moved.
– Matt’s family want him to be buried at the base of K2, alongside his team-mate who was killed in a separate incident.
– Six of Matt’s closest mountaineering friends will make the attempt to retrieve him, led by alpinists experienced in the Karakoram region.
– Team members are from Canada and Australia.
– A retrieval operation of this kind is rare in the mountaineering world.
(*) Louis Rousseau, Quebec/Canadian alpinist, ice climber, videophotographer, writer and more. – climbed,opened technical ice routes in Canada – opened a new route and summited Nanga Parbat in 2009 [ https://gripped.com/…/victory-and-tragedy-on-nanga-parbat/ ] – climbed also Gasherbrum II,Broad Peak – climbing expeditions on Gasherbrum I , K2, Cho Oyu, Annapurna NW with partners like Gerfried Göschl, Alex Txikon, Adam Bielecki and others – did also rescue missions
The context : Nims incredible feats, press about him, the records
When Nirmal Purja, then an unkown climber to the community, declared his intention to climb all 14 8000ers peaks within a year, initial reactions from public, other climbers and media was rather incredulous. I include myself in the early critics . Then, the former gurkha and SAS soldier, showed to the World his strength, his sharp focus and his incredible leadership. He climbed the 14×8000 in about six month, and the last one was K2, in Winter – the last 8000ers never climbed in the cold Karakorum season.
He used a combination of his military skills to build a super strong Sherpa team supporting him, an extraordinary effort in logistics, a large use of any means – as supplementary oxygen used by himself and his team mates, helicopter flights to race between Base Camps and carry the necessary amount of equipment – and he just did it.
He faced brutal conditions on some peaks, as happened on Dhaulagiri ; he also led some rescues at high altitude during his climbs, such as on Kangchenjunga ; he also summited some 8000ers declaring that he didn’t use supplementary O2, as for the incredible winter collective ascent on K2, which led him to a World popularity.
Soon NETFLIX aired a movie about his feat ; Nirmal Purja then reinforced and took to great level of business his own agency, Elite Exped (established by him some years ago, when he started the planning of his climbing career), took the leadership of all Sherpas community and without any doubt he changed the “routine” on 8000ers Commercial Expedition. After decades, Sherpa took the led, the organization, the logistics and a new successful season of guiding clients on the high altitude peaks, both in Himalaya as well in Karakorum, changed the rule.
Said this, one critical aspect shown up quite evident : Nirmal management of his relationship with press, at least with some journalists : especially, with those who asked him uncomfortable questions. From the beginning, not without some real reasons, he claimed to be attacked by media in a way that “no westerners climbers” had never confronted. His enormous social success and the majority of Press about him, indeed, made his fears sounds quite strange , as his declared feeling to be considered as a “target” of envy, hidden attempts by “westerners agents” to sabotage his success and so on.
Attempts to interview him and ask him about some doubts or question during is 14×8000 rush were often dismissed by him with total silence or answers like “for all the envious and doubtful who try to spread negativity, there will be time to show them who am I” or “I will show photos/video proofs” when asked to details all his summit in his claimed 14×8000 record.
I’m an indipendent chronicler ; I’m not a professional journalists with any conflict of interests nor nothing to hide when I write about some climbers ; I have a strong principle: try to fact check anything, specially when the claims are very exceptionals ; NO ONE , in my opinion, with a so strong public position, can’t avoid questions from Press . Of course, it’s up to him substantiate his legitimate critics and/or rights to don’t answer to some questions. But then, please accept the consequences.
In alpinism there aren’t fixed rules about claims or records. Anyway, there are indipendent experts – not only journalists! – who are hard working on statistics and fact checking the claims made by climbers. The Himalayan Database is the most famous institution in charge of recording climbers ascents in Himalaya – anyone could freely install the database on a device and access to all expeditions data; 8000ers.com is another one, extending the realm of climbs to Karakorum. There is more than a valid reason why almost all climbers stop in Kathmandu, on the way back from their expeditions, and meet the experts – until few years ago, they sat with the respected and late Mr.Elizabeth Hawley , sharing their ascent stories and if she suspected that they were not saying the truth, the ascents were marked as “DISPUTED” in the Database ; high altitude climbing isn’t a traditional sport, there isn’t any “international panel of jury”, anyway having someone who “certify” the ascent is considered important for the climbers, as they use their records and claim to gain media attention, sponsorship as happens for others outdoor activities. This tradition continues with the HDB Team led by Billi Biering. The same is for 8000ers.com , where Eberhard Jurgalski is working since decades validating, studying, reporting about any kind of statistics about both Himalayan and Karakorum high peaks, from 6000ers to the 8000ers.
It is worth to note that both Himalayan Database as 8000ers.com are truly independent “institutions” and got NO FINANCIAL SUPPORT, other than on voluntary base. People working from them spend lot of their time to analyze data, photos, reports and they deserve the maximum respect from the mountaineering community.
Even one exceptional leader and athlete as Nirmal Purja should accept a normal scrutiny or questions about his extraordinary feats.
Of course he can decide to DON’T CARE about it. But then again, he should accept the critics, the questions and doubts if asked politely.
What happened ?
Few days ago, Nirmal Purja and his Elite Exped team summited Kangchenjunga , after a very fast rush on the mountain . Nims was guiding a very important client with him, the Qatari Princess Asma Al Thani . Angela Benavides, a veteran, respected journalists which has a long experience on writing about climbers and ascent , who in the past tried to ask Purja questions like I mentioned above, wrote this article :
I must tell that I checked the post done by Elite Exped Sherpas, I understood that it was more a misunderstanding. Anyway, Angela raised some doubts, and after double checking in an interview with Mingma, she corrected and clarified that Nims climbed from BC to C2, then from C2 to summit in a push.
Anyway, considering the massive use of helicopters of last years – done by Nims and many other climbers – to carry gears and or to lift climbers from a peak BC to the next one , in a constant rush to “link up” more 8000ers in a row or in a single expedition, the questions were neither an insult nor something odd.
But Nirmal Purja got triggered and in a social post – both published in Instagram as in Facebook – he had a brutal, awful reaction, attacking personally Angela Benavides.
The “Racism” issue raised by Nirmal Purja
“Angela Benavides, you are the most racist journalist I have ever seen. Get your facts right before you comment on myself or any Nepalese guiding company. It’s not the first time you have done this explores web, your information all the way from #k2winter has been false !!!! Get your shit sorted before you claim yourself as a journalist ! ” #stopracism
My personal thoughts and the general reaction .
Frankly, besides the totally unacceptable tones – I could think Nims was quite stressed because is unstoppable rushing up and down at high altitudes – the “RACISM” issue is nothing I have seen, nor in the past articles, nor in the article which triggered his reaction.
Nirmal Purja is an exceptional leader and it’s clear to me his huge contribution to all the Sherpa community and, in general, to his native country, Nepal. He set a high level standard organizing 8000ers expeditions with cutting edge team, logistics and results. His business has disrupted a long history of “Western Agencies” (US,Europe founded) and for sure, many people are not happy about this.
But the critics about the commercialization of 8000ers climbing, the issues about environment, about the negative effects that this could affect the high peaks, were discussed well before Nirmal Purja began his career. And as far as I recall, many journalists, climbers, experts were quite vocals in the past about this with anyone, not caring about his country of origin, the color of his skin or whatever.
It is also to be noted that ExplorersWeb is not a “mainstream” magazine, and you may have a look at the total “social/web” audience of this outlet – about 10.000 followers – comparing it to the Nirmal Purja massive social influence, which is TWO MILLIONS FOLLOWERS on Instagram page and a HALF MILLION on his Facebook Page.
MY PERSONAL STATEMENT ABOUT THIS: I think that Nirmal Purja should reconsider his brutal attack against Angela Benavides. His words are TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE, he lacked respect and the racism accuse is wrong ; this led to a very dangerous shitstorm on a single person.
Angela Benavides, as any other journalists, could be criticised and discussed for his writings and reports ; I don’t always agree with some of her considerations, but anyone must pay respect to each other. Cilmbers and journalists.
It’s easy to have a look at the comments under the Nirmal post : a shitstorm on Angela and ExplorersWeb. No mainstream media reported the issue, besides a bunch of journalists ; no solidarity at all to Angela. Frankly said : going against a powerful influencer like Nirmal Purja could lead to real trouble for anyone.
Nirmal new records and a “ghost comment” about his past 14×8000 claimed record
After this unpleasant issue, Nirmal claimed a couple of new records : Kangchenjunga without o2 , then Everest and Lhotse in 8 days, 23hours. Everest and Lhotse “traverse” (a linkup – from Everest summit to C4 SouthCol then Lhotse summit) in just 26 hours.
Then, few days ago, NO ONE noticed a comment in another “self-celebrating” Nirmal Purja post.
The comment above, since it was written by the maximum expert and known as serious fact-checker, has to be taken seriously BY ANYONE. Eberhard Jurgalski himself told Nims that his claimed 14×8000 records, in his opinion was NOT VALID, because he didn’t climb until the real summit on Dhaulagiri as in Manaslu. The Manaslu true summit question is well known , as many of you should recall when it was discussed and had huge public impact .But then, Eberhard DROP ANOTHER HUGE statement : he recognized Nirmal Purja AS THE ONLY ONE CLIMBER WHO TOPPED ALL 14 8000RS EVER (after Nims climbed again in Autumn Dhaulagiri and Manaslu). We will need to wait until 8000ers.com will publish a full report about this.
Said this, Nirmal Purja will be not affected by the question by The Himalayan Database, as for their public statement below – where they recognize the true summit question but also said they will not change the paste achievements.
How to avoid such unpleasant issues between climbers and reporters ?
Brief conclusion: it is up to reporters and journalists to do their best to fact-check and verify any information without hurrying too much to publish their findings ; in our society , where news are spreading fast as social networks became the most influential place to find informations, there is a tendency to be “always on” and “fast as possible”. This is not very good for the quality of information.
For the climbers is quite simple : if they declare important goals, if they claim great exploits, they must be accountable about their story telling, providing info as much as they can ; photos, gps recordings, videos, and truthful reports.
Both the categories should always show respect to their respective jobs and personal integrity.
When ultra-experienced and careful alpinists like Emilio Comici, Renato Casarotto and Korra Pesce die unexpectedly in accidents that should not have happened, some people are tempted to think that there exists a thing called destiny. Yet, a synonym of fate is fortune, and even in the ancient Greek drama destiny and chance are inextricably linked together. We have all taken our chances on the mountains, and we understand what it means to cross roads with the devil…
Yiannis Torelli climbing “Koralli” 1st 8a in Greece,1995
Not many days ago a series of mountain accidents occurred in Greece where the lack of a national alpine rescue service contributed to the fatal outcome of the operations.
Among those who could still be with us today, but unfortunately are not any longer, was Yiannis Torelli, a major force of climbing developments in Greece in the last 30 years.
A charismatic, quiet and authentic man of power who led the sport climbing scene in Greece for over two decades by setting new levels on local limestone, and went on to become —in the more recent years— also a leading figure in the country’s winter climbing scene. Yiannis was the first in Greece to climb 7b+/7c (1992/93), then 8a/8a+ (1995/96) and 8b (1997). And he did not climb these grades in a trip abroad but opening new crags in and hundreds of new routes in his own country, as in Kalogria and in every other world-class Greek climbing crag, raising the limits of what was thought possible at the time and inspiring the most talented young climbers for over 30 years. After pushing the difficulty limits to these grades he applied his mastery to some of the hardest big walls in Greece, opening new routes with his companions, always in perfect style.
Examples include forbidding routes on Parnassos mountain (Δόγμα / Doctrine, ED+, VIII A1, 500m in 2002; Χρυσή Τομή / Golden Section, ED+, VIII+ A2 in 2005) and Tymfi mountain (Torelli – Thanopoulou, VIII, 500m in 2015), all counting very few repetitions.
As the years passed, Yiannis transferred his vision for climbing the hardest grades also to winter climbing, leading major alpine endeavors that had attracted, but also pushed back, many other experienced climbers in the country. Among other ice- and mixed-climbing routes, it is worth mentioning those on Tzoumerka mountain: Μεταξύ φθοράς και αφθαρσίας / Borderline case, V, WI5 M5, 480m (2017), Τόξο / Bow, V, WI6, 450m (2017) and Και μη χειρότερα / No worse, WI5+ M8, 380m (2019).
Yiannis Torelli, who had Italian paternal roots (as indicated by his surname), was highly respected by the Greek climbing community for his ethos and his dedication to the vertical dimension. Besides, he was also a passionate painter with a developed aesthetic.
Yiannis passed by at age 56 after being swept by a deadly slab avalanche together with his rope mates Thanasis Sotiropoulos and Panos Tekos, while they were approaching another jaw-dropping alpine icefall, hanging above the mythological Styx, on Helmos mountain, where Thetis dipped Achilles to render him invulnerable. Addio Yianni.
Panos Athanasiadis (*)
(*) Panos Athanasiadis is a greek alpinist,rock climber,slackliner ; he works as meteorologist scientist in Bologna.
The Karakorum, in the collective imagination is often associated with the great peaks that rise along the Baltoro Glacier, the scene of epic expeditions and climbs since the early 1900s.
K2, Gasherbrums, Broad Peak, Chogolisa and Trango Towers, Laila Peak: the mountains that bring to mind great challenges of the past and present.
Yet the Karakorum includes dozens of more hidden and less known places, less accessible but with valleys, glaciers, mountains and granite walls of extraordinary beauty and mountaineering potential, with heights ranging from 4500 meters to over 7000 meters, which provide- for the few who venture there – climbing inexhaustible thrills and plenty of exploration possibilities.
Matteo Bedendo, a young and talented photographer and mountaineer, explored, photographed and wrote about one of these places in 2016: the Nangma Valley, located about 50 km south and parallel to the great Baltoro and K2 glacier.
We propose below his extraordinary historical report and below his photo gallery.
Nangma Valley – pin on Amin Brakk peak (Google Maps)
Last summer I had the privilege of photographing the most amazing valley I have ever seen.
The Nangma Valley is an aesthetically sublime place, secretly nestled in the heart of the Karakorum. Although I saw some western explorers as early as the sixties, this valley still remains unknown to most mountaineering and climbing enthusiasts. Anyone who knows this mountain range has probably heard of the Charakusa valley, dominated by the immense north face of K6; however, the valley that reaches this mountain from the south – called Nangma – has yet to show its immense mountaineering and naturalistic potential to a large part of the world.
When Eduard Koblmiller set foot in the valley during his successful K6 expedition in 1970, he described it as a place of “unusual and primordial beauty”. The Nangma Valley looks like an impressionist painting, made of extreme color contrasts and abstract lines that point the sky with astonishing verticality. Someone calls it the “Yosemite of Pakistan” although here, in addition to kilometer-long granite castles, there is also room for high altitude mountaineering – technical and difficult – typical of the Karakorum mountains. The beauty of the valley is almost touching and, unlike other and much more famous places, the base camps are only an intense day’s walk from the road.
The valley can be reached from the village of Kande, along the Hushe valley.
There must have been a long moment of creativity crisis since almost all the villages are called Kande, Khane, Kunde or Kanday. The Kande you need to reach is the last one. Having a guide with you is mandatory, although according to the law this is an “open zone”: at the military checkpoint along the valley, the military stops anyone without one. Fortunately, no liaison officer or briefing / debriefing is required in Islamabad – everything can then be arranged directly in Skardu, saving time, cost and bureaucracy. The Hushe valley sees every year some mountaineers / trekkers leaving the Gondogoro La, the famous high altitude pass that leads – with an alternative route to the classic – to Concordia and K2. But there is no guesthouse or tourist facility in Kande; a few years ago the entire village was destroyed by a landslide and was rebuilt a little further north. Your guide, if you are as lucky as we were, can arrange a guest room at some farmer’s house. Camping along the valley is definitely an option; any porters can be recruited directly the night before, in the village.
Although there is a great suspicion that this valley will become famous for its granite, pure rock routes and immense towers such as Amin Brakk, one cannot begin to speak of a mountain other than K6 (7282m).
Not only was the first ascent to K6 from this valley, but it is still the only ascent to the main peak. The impressive route established by Raphael Slawinski and Ian Westeld in 2013 on the north face – which led them to the victory of the Piolet d’Or – ended on the West summit. The real summit of K6 was only reached in 1970 by an Austrian expedition that trod the summit with four members: Eduard “Edi” Koblmueller, Gerhard Haberl, Christian von der Hecken and Gerd Pressl. For Koblmuller this is the first great success in Asia, which will be followed by a series of impressive climbs of the highest level especially in Karakorum: he will be the first to reach the main summit of Chogolisa (miraculously saved after the collapse of a frame) and will climb routes difficult on legendary mountains such as Batura, Cho Oyu, Diran, Rakaposhi and Nanga Parbat. The “via Austriaca” crosses the entire base of the mountain and crosses a hill until it attacks the “shoulder” from the adjacent valley (direct access from here would have been much longer) and then reaches the south-east ridge. The climbers evaluate some sections in the upper part as V + / A2. Many fixed ropes were used. The year before, an Italian expedition attempted to climb K6 from another route: instead of continuing towards the “shoulder” the route climbs sharply to the left along an ice ramp and then follows the west ridge (crossing K6 West) up to a series of rocky pinnacles which apparently proved too difficult. The first attempt dates back to an English expedition in 1961. A recent new route (Bennet – Zimmerman, USA, 2015) at K6 West, with mixed difficulty up to M6 and ice up to 90 °, is worth noting.
Kapura (6544m) is an elegant pyramid of rock and ice that rises from the west ridge of K6. Famous for having only recently been climbed – in 2004 – by Steve House, it only saw one ascent from Nangma Valley in 2013, by a pair of al Portuguese pin players. Paulo Roxo and Daniela Teixeira have made a route that ends on the south peak at about 6350m of altitude: it is called “Never Ending Dreams”, it extends for 1300 meters and presents difficulties of M4 and ice up to 70 °.
The Nangma Valley, as I mentioned earlier, has the potential to become a Yosemite of the East, with perfect, dry walls rising straight from base camp.
However, the mountain symbol of this valley does not have a comfortable wall, much less close to a possible base camp. The summit is a confusing party of frames and the exit from the wall cannot be done without ice equipment and a good ability to move on this type of terrain.
The Amin Brakk is one of the most impressive rock monoliths in the Karakorum and on the planet. Despite the not extreme altitude (about 6000 meters, although it appears a little lower on the maps), it is the real protagonist of this remote corner of Pakistan. Its west face looks like a torpedo twelve hundred meters high and terribly vertical. Indeed, the first part presents a more unique than rare case of overhanging slabs. The very compact “belly” that rises from the rotten and icy basal rocks does not in fact have the appearance of something that can be climbed free by a human being, although a system of cracks that crosses it cannot be excluded. It is an El Capitan of Asia, but it is much more difficult – and great: the local guides proudly reiterate that it is “much more difficult than the Trango Towers”. Recently discovered, it saw a first Spanish attempt run aground 300 meters from the summit in 1996, after staying on the face for fifteen days. It was only in 1999 that other Spaniards, Silvia Vidal, Pep Masip and Miguel Puigdomenech, reached the summit after thirty consecutive days on the wall. Their route, “Sol Solet” has a development of 1650 meters and most of the pitches have been climbed in aid, with difficulty in aid up to A5 and free up to 6c +. Over 500kg of material were transported to the face (almost half was water) and about thirty bolts were planted during the ascent, concentrated above all on the pitches where the granite proved to be very compact and smooth; two days of abseiling were necessary to descend and completely clean up the face. The mountain was named Amin Brakk as a tribute to their cook, Amin. A few days later the summit was reached again by a Czech consortium: “Czech Express” climbs more to the right than “Sol Solet” and has difficulties with aid of A3 and a greater development than the Spanish route. The ice reaches 70 °.
The “Namkor” route by Adolfo Madinabeitia and Juan Miranda climbs between the two aforementioned routes, has a development of 1550 meters and required thirty-one days of stay on the wall, most of which passed through the portaledge due to bad weather. Seventeen of the thirty-one pitches were climbed free (up to 6b +), while the greatest difficulties were encountered in the two pitches of A5. In 2004 a Russian expedition, after having climbed the mountain partly by a new route, saw the first and only BASE jump in its history. Valery Rozov (who recently passed away during a jump on Ama Dablam) launched himself from a point near the summit ridge three hundred meters from the summit and, despite having passed dangerously close to a ledge during the first seconds of flight, the entire expedition ended with a success.
The classic expedition base camp on the right orographic side of the valley is a picturesque and magical place. The walls that overlook it are in themselves a satisfying goal for a rock purist.
Zang Brakk and Denbor Brakk are two peaks of 4800 meters that certainly do not go unnoticed for their aesthetics and verticality – and they are also an excellent fallback in case the most ambitious goals of the valley (read Amin Brakk) prove .. too ambitious, in fact. The granite is compact and colorful and there are still many possible routes to climb. Zang Brakk is certainly one of the most erotic towers in the valley, thanks to a really attractive appearance and – above all – instant access: the wall literally starts at the base camp. The development of the routes that go from the base to the top varies between 540 and 750 meters. The first ascent is once again due to Pep Masip and Silvia Vidal who in 1998 scoured the area to be able to look personally on the Amin Brakk, which they would have climbed the following year. The route is 540 meters long and most of the pitches have difficulty in aid up to A3. The couple reports that they have found old bolts of unknown origin a few meters beyond the start of the route. In 2000, three new routes were born. Two routes were established by a Korean team and present similar difficulties – 6a + A4-. The third route was established by a couple of British climbers and ends a short distance from the summit. “Ramchikor” is Mon g at 600 meters and was graded 5c + A2 by the openers. A recent addition is the “Hasta la Vista David” route, by Silvestro Stucchi, Elena Davila, Anna Lazzarini and Enea Colnago. The route runs along the southwest wall for 750 meters with difficulties of VI + and A1.
Libby Peter and Louise Thomas, authors of “Rachikor” on Zang Brakk, are also the first female climbers of Denbor Brakk – for a rather laborious route (debris and crest) with moderate technical difficulties. In 2009 the obvious south ridge of the mountain was climbed (to the south peak) by Americans Estes and Hepp, who described it as one of the worst climbs of their lives, much of it due to intense “gardening” that the two found themselves having to practice. A more direct Polish route takes place on the largest of the three pillars that characterize the mountain and has been called Dancer in the Dark. Although the Denbor Brakk is also very close to the base camp, it requires (except for a much longer tour) the crossing of a rushing glacial river-waterfall. A fixed rope is required to avoid major risks at each crossing.
After this long praise to the perfect granite of the valley it is time to break the article with a stupendous ice pyramid: Drifika (6447m).
The mountain, whose name is a distortion of a local word meaning “Palace of the Ghosts” is rather hidden. Its presence cannot be guessed from the main valley and to get there you have to cross the Amin Brak for a long time – crossing endless moraine slopes. The few people who have laid their eyes on his perfect profile probably did so from the north, from the Charakusa valley – where the first and second ascents (Japanese and Italians respectively) also took place. From the south the mountain looks just as splendid, but lately a bit battered – in the summer season – by the scorching Pakistani heat: photos from 2004 show steep couloirs of abundant snow which, at present, have been replaced by piles of debris in constant collapse . The rock here is no longer granite but, with good coverage, the Drifika shows a series of logical and interesting lines. Of the few expeditions that the mountain has seen from this side, it is the Slovenian one in 2004 that has come closest to success. Their turnaround a few tens of meters from the top was forced after having witnessed the fatal accident that happened to a member of the Basque expedition, a few hundred meters below them. The route of Matija “Matic” Jost and his companions is called “White River” and is as logical as it is beautiful: the exposure is guaranteed for the 1200 meters of route (60 ° ice, a short 90 ° jump on the serac). At present, the lower part is not accessible in the hottest months due to the endless collapses of debris. In 2007 a new Czech route reaches the West summit via the southwest ridge (M4, rotten rock).
In the glacial valley where Amin Brakk and Drifika face each other, there is room for another climb on ice. Korada Peak (5944m) was climbed by the Slovenians of “White River”, Gregor Blazic, Matija Jost, Vladimir Makarovic. While not huge by the standards of the Karakorum (it has the defect of being between two beautiful mountains) it has a remote and attractive aspect. The route was climbed and descended in 25 hours and although for the most part it is “only” a steep slope of ice, it overcomes a difficult rock band 60 meters high. It is rated TD + by the openers.
A rather obvious mountain in the valley is called Shingu Charpa (or “Great Tower”, ca. 5800m).
First climbed by Koreans Shin Dong-Chul, Bang Jung-Ho and Hwang Young-Soon in 2000. After discarding the idea of climbing the north ridge, they aided the obvious snowy couloir on the west face with fixed ropes. they then continued on delicate rock – always at risk of collapsing due to frequent rainfall. However, the real reason for the interest in this mountain remains its north ridge. It is almost sixteen hundred meters high and is a masterpiece of aesthetics. As logical as it is cyclopean, its story remains somewhat controversial. Known and attempted since 2000, it saw a Russian team covering it almost entirely up to the top in 2006. The Russians, however, made the ascent in two stages, that is, descending to about a third and then returning to the same point via a shortcut along the wall. East. Furthermore, although Igor Chaplinsky claims to have reached the summit free, it is now known that the three did not climb the last hundred meters of ice due to “lack of material”. Even having free climbed the entire ridge turned out to be a fake. A similar fate for the Americans Kelly Cordes and Josh Wharton who in the same year were rejected by the very hard black ice at the summit after having laboriously covered the entire ridge (with many sections in aid). Follow this intact ridge lmente, up to the top, remains one of the most ambitious open challenges in the valley.
The second ascent of the mountain took place the following year by Alexander Klenov, Mikhail Davy and Alexander Shabunin – Russian team – through the east face. The route is called “Never More” and intersects the north ridge on the final: the grade is very high and the development quite high (1600m, 7a, M5, A3).
The possibilities in the valley are endless, but we should mention the mysterious Changui Tower (often “Changi Tower”), whose east wall has already been climbed at least twice. The height of the tower should be around 5800 meters, although some old maps and reports indicate 5300. The mountain is located on the less famous side of the Amin Brakk, where the valley curves towards the K6, and is probably the second tallest structure. of the aggressive and complex mass of granite. A second Changi Tower (6500m), already known in the seventies and invisible from the Nangma valley, rises at the easternmost base of K6, and presents a difficult high altitude climb on mixed and ice, with very compact rock.
One of the fastest access towers (at least among those of defined and imposing appearance) is the Logmun Tower (or “Green Tower”, ca 4600m). Having placed the base camp at the bottom of the valley and not on the orographic right (so in case Amin Brakk, Zang Brakk and companions are not of interest to you ..) this huge triangular pillar is the most obvious vertical structure. The few routes marked out have free climbing up to 6a / 6b + and some artificial points up to A3: the climbing is always very continuous and demanding, and often the cracks need to be cleaned of vegetation. The development remains remarkable even if it is a pillar of not exaggerated altitude: it starts from a minimum of 600 meters to a maximum of 850 meters.
All along the valley there are hundreds of towers and virgin walls of perfect granite, as well as a decent choice of boulders. Despite a good number of very remote ice walls and a difficult, high and legendary mountain like K6, it is obviously the granite that reigns supreme here.
The Yosemite of Pakistan is ready to welcome the most demanding climbers who, in addition to a good dose of imagination and technical ability, are looking for a new earthly paradise, remote but accessible, where to experience modern and exploratory mountaineering at the same time.
NANGMA VALLEY EXPLORATION – GALLERY
all photographs by Matteo Bedendo – it is forbidden copy and share without explicit consent – all rights reserved (c) Matteo Bedendo Photography