Nanga Parbat :  Mummery Spur, a brief history

Albert Frederick Mummery, defined by Hermann Buhl (who became the first giant of the 8000 Pakistani 8000), “one of the greatest alpinists of all time”, was perhaps too far ahead of his time: his attempt, the first ever, to climb an 8000, occurred in the Summer 1895, along with 3 other British alpinists and 2 carriers. A small team, “by fair means” (with loyal means), a forerunner of the alpine style. Mummery first attempted to climb along that central Spur, apparently reaching the 6100 meters, and then disappearing forever, together with the porters, in an attempt to transfer along the Rakhiot slope, to look for another access to the mountain.

To him is dedicated the name of the dreamed route, almost “plumb”, which rises above the Diamir glacier, and that climbs along a formidable rocky spur – the Mummery Spur or Rib, indeed – up to almost 7000 meters, where horrendous and gigantic seracs mark the passage on the Basin, that is the huge and crevassed plateau that finally leads to the “summit trapezoid” of the Nanga, last 1000 meters before the summit.

approx mummery spur route (d.nardi) nanga parbat

No mountaineer – except the Messner brothers, forced to descend along the spur or in its immediate vicinity, in the terrible crossing subsequent to the climb that led them to the summit up to the Rupal wall; place where Gunther found his death , almost arrived at the base on the glacier, killed by an avalanche, at the end of June 1970 – no mountaineer has ever tried that line, considered suicide for the terrifying funnel of avalanches, looming seracs , the difficulty even to just access to the Spur, because the horribly crevassed glacier.

Reinhold Messner has always spoken of the potential route along the Spur as impossible and suicidal, a line “that does not lead anywhere”, full of objective dangers.

Messner declaration is understandable also in the light of what he felt on that wall and for the obvious presence of objective dangers: the constant breaking of the hanging seracs, with consequent discharge of avalanches, testified also in the beautiful video, directed by Francesco Santini, product by Daniele Nardi, “Toward the Unknown”. The hope of Nardi is that in winter the extreme temperatures reduce these discharges and that along the Sperone there is an area – rather narrow and random – where to climb without being excessively exposed.

No one except the Italian alpinist Daniele Nardi, this is 5th attempt on this path. Daniele Nardi and Elizabeth Revol are the only “team” that has reached the highest point on the Mummery Spur, at about 6450 meters in 2015.

 daniele nardi

Since then, other attempts have always stopped before, partly because Nardi has no longer found any companions willing to risk along that route: the same Elizabeth Revol, together with Tomek Mackiewitz, refused to join Nardi, both for the delay in the arrival of the italian alpinist at the Base Camp, both as because they had already begun the attempt along the route Messner Eisendle: the route that the two completed last year, at the very high price of the death of Tomek and of the freezing and loss of Elizabeth’s feet toes  , also she was rescued from Urubko, Bielecki, Tomala, Botor who were engaged in K2 – they rushed, with great courage and humanity, to try to save the two ; an attempt that ended with the recovery of the Revol at 6100 meters just above the Kinshofer wall and with the impossibility of trying to climb over 7000 meters where Tomek stopped, killed by a probable cerebral edema.

This year, finally, Daniele Nardi has managed to form a team of 4 climbers for the challenge to the Mummery: himself, the Pakistani mountaineers Karim Hayat, Rahmat Ussain Baig and the very strong young Tom Ballard, English alpinist already able to climb the 6 North of the Alps in winter and alone, 26 years: Cima Grande di Lavaredo, Pizzo Badile, Matterhorn, Grandes Jorasses, Petit Dru and Eiger.

In the first 10 days of shipping, the team showed a formidable harmony and managed to set up 3 camps, the c1 at 4700 meters as a storage depot, the c2 at 5200 meters towards the glacier exit, and the c3 inside a crevasse, at the base of the actual rocky spur at 5700 meters.

In the next days the expedition will face the real rocky wall.

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