Monday, 30 August 2010
We've spent a few days in the capital tying up loose ends. We've had a fair amount of admin to do such as paying our agent, collecting our helicopter rescue deposit and changing our plane tickets. On Sunday Luke and Hamish went climbing at a local crag with John Arran and we all spent a lovely evening out with Nazir Sabir. Monday involved another 3 hours arguing at the PIA offices to get the 240GBP of flight change charges waived. We went from manager to manager and eventually got the district manager to waive the charges- the branch manager was furious!
We're flying out of Islamabad in 4 hours and will be back in the UK this evening.
Watch this space for photos!
Saturday, 21 August 2010
"Left base camp this morning.
Fresh Chicken on the Menu tonight!
All attempts on the mountain thwarted by bad weather.
Looking forward to getting back to civilisation.
Love the team x"
Unfortunately the weather that has been causing the floods in Pakistan has also prevented the boys from climbing Tahu Ratum which is a real shame.
I can't wait to see them all, and wish them a safe journey home.
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
"Sun came out briefly this pm, so we used the petrol stove to heat rocks and put a tarp over the top to make a sauna! Love the team x"
I feel the deepest pity for Holly for having to put up with the guy's pasty bodies.....
Hopefully next time I post something they will have acclimatised, and be ready for an attempt, or at least done some bouldering!!
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
"It has been raining for 5 days solid.
Out of honey and have played every card game we know.
Please send us suggestions for anything to stave off boredom to our sat-phone.
Hamish, Holly, Luke and Tom."
So you heard the boss.....send suggestions to: +8821651075983.
Lets hope the weather clears up!
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
"Arrived at base camp today after 6 day trek.
We had to play hardball with the porters and won after they tried to raise the price yet again.
Tahu Ratum looks stunning and the home-brew beer is brewing."
Nice looks like the floods havent hindered them and they have their priorities sorted!
Will let you know anymore as soon as I know.
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
After an entertaining overnight flight with PIA (and the best in-flight meal I have ever tasted - curry and chapatti) we arrived in Islamabad at 6am. Even at this time in the morning the temperature was in the high thirties and very humid. The airport is a little outside of Islamabad and it was a thirty minute ride to where we were staying. This was our first experience of Pakistani driving and it was certainly eye opening. To an outsider there seems to be little logic between the movements of cars, horses, cyclists and ornately decorated trucks. According to our driver there are few accidents, so this strange kind of dance must really work!
We arrived at Jamsine lodge, our thankfully air-conditioned guest house. After a few hours of much needed kip we met our guide and spent the afternoon driving round the city visiting officials from the Alpine Club of Pakistan and the helicopter rescue company (hopefully we won't meet again!). We spent the evening in browsing the vibrant markets of downtown Islamabad - In a vain effort to turn his life around, Tom picked up a few books including: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Watch this space! - Before meeting up with John Arran, a climber from Sheffield, working out here. Alcohol is available in Pakistan, so we had to go to a very discreet downstairs bar in the Marriot hotel to aquire our illicit beverages. It was great to meet up and share stories (and thanks for dinner!). He has recently put up the hardest sport route in Pakistan, and plans to keep breaking the record every weekend!
After an (almost) alpine start we arrived at the airport for the early flight to Gilgit. It was all looking good until it was cancelled 10 minutes before departure. The locals protested but after two hours we all gave up, and with some trepidation elected to take the notoreous Karakoram Highway. We also gained an extra passenger - sharing the bumpy ride with lecturer from Texas University - studying the traditional languages of the Hunza Valley.
A typical view on the death defying KKH - Photo: Luke Hunt.
Driving up into the mountains we passed through some eye opening scenes in the Pakistani countryside. The area is so full of life! We set off late and had to drive some of the most dangerous roads (in terms of bandits and big drops) at night. We passed through some interesting areas and at one point shared our vehicle with a Policeman, compete with AK47! All very exciting! We arrived in our guesthouse in Chileas after 22 hours on the go. Thanks to our tireless driver, who kept us bouncing and bumping along the crumbly and sometimes missing road and more importantly from plummiting into the abyss!
With the most dangerous roads behind us and our new found immunity to crumbly edges and steep drops we made our merry way up the Hunza valley. We are now staying in the Hilltop Hotel in Karimmabad - I make no exaggeration when I say this valley is the one of most beautiful I have ever been to, with soaring mountains, colourful, friendly people and lush vegetation.
Today we have been shopping for all the food we will need for the expedition. Having developed a taste for chapatti and curry, (and underestimated costs somewhat!) we are planning to live on a very traditional diet during the expediton.
The trip so far has been a richly intense experience, with a new challenge around every corner. At time of writing Hamish has just infomed us that a small landsilde has blocked the road up to Hispar Village and is about to cause us no end of trouble...
This will be our last detailed post until we return to civilisation. However, we are intending send updates via sat phone texts so stay tuned!
By Luke and Tom.
Saturday, 24 July 2010
As you may have guessed they have arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan!
I spoke to Tom late yesterday afternoon as they neared Manchester Airport, and they all seemed pretty excited, nervous and psyched!
Today I got a text saying that they had arrived safely in Islamabad, had a short nap and were off to meet with some Pakistani Officials and that it all seems very organised!
I'm sure they will find an internet cafe soon and give a proper update...Tom can't just go cold turkey from his facebook addiction!
Thursday, 22 July 2010
Holly, Hamish, Luke and I have spent the day in my barn. We occupied our time by packing, packing and yet more packing...
We're all fairly knackered and are about to go sleep.
Here are a few photos of us packing.
A big thanks to everyone to who has supported our trip - we really, really, really appreciate it.
Hamish and Holly pretty happy with yummy Mule Bars! Photo: Hunt.
Geobar Heaven - Photo: Ripley.
This will be our last blog post before the fun really starts, but I might squeeze another in tomorrow if you're lucky/some thing unexpected happens!
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
We're going to update the blog sporadically during our trip. Either by using internet cafes or by texting Duncan Campbell from our satellite phone.
Here's a picture of the cider drinking, whipper taking, generally nice chap - so you can trust our blog is in safe hands...
Saturday, 17 July 2010
Saturday, 26 June 2010
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
After discussing the idea with Luke and Hamish – who were not opposed to the idea, but did not seem overly convinced either – I set about trying to find some more folk to come along. I generally got one of three answers: “I’d love to, but I can’t afford it.” “Na, I’ve got better things to do with my time than wait around in Pakistan, whilst you go climbing.” or the rather worrying, “Yea, I’d be well keen to try and climb that with you.”
After several weeks, I felt like I’d asked pretty much everyone I knew, the situation was looking pretty hopeless. No one was interested in coming on holiday with me. I’m student at Bangor University – though I’m not very good at studying – and an active member of Bangor University Mountaineering Society, or B.U.M.S for short. B.U.M.S is a drinking club and some of its’ members have a loose interest in climbing. During the winter it rains incessantly in North Wales so there is little opportunity for anything other than drinking and getting rowdy, which is far more exciting than climbing anyway. It was another wet Friday night and there was a load of us had headed down to Tremadog for a bit of knees up. There was a slim chance that some dry rock might be found too.
Eventually I got chatting to a girl with messy brown hair, who I sort of knew, but couldn’t for the life of me remember her name. “Do you want to come to Pakistan with me this summer?” I blurted out hopefully. Expecting a polite, “No” and look that said, “With you, I’d rather die.” Instead I got a rather excited, maybe over excited, “Wow! I’ve always wanted to go to Pakistan. Can I come please?” Rather taken aback I quickly said yes and out team was complete. It turns out, she’s called Holly.
By Tom Ripley
Sunday, 6 June 2010
After reaching the top at 3.30pm we set about the very loonnnggg descent back to the valley. The descent took a further 7 hours of wading, bumsliding, glissading and abseiling and we arrived back in the valley 21 hours after leaving the car.
The hard routes on the faces around the Glacier Noir are pretty serious in comparison to many of the faces in Chamonix. The rock is poor and there is no fixed gear (abseil retreat would be a serious undertaking) so you are obliged to finish the route. Once on top there is no easy descent as even the Ailefroide normal route is difficult to find when the rock buttresses are covered in snow and the cairns invisible.
The route itself gets the complicated grade of TD IV 4+ 5b M4+ and apart from the slog up the snowfield left of the hanging glacier is quite sustained.
All in all a mega long day and a good route but not the most enjoyable outing! This will be the last alpine route I get on before Pakistan so I'll need to get plenty of running and climbing done to stay fit for Pakistan.
Saturday, 5 June 2010
Anyway (:P), From snow lake we will travel over the Hispar La (5128m), a pass which connects to the head of the Hispar glacier, before hanging a prompt right to base camp on the Khani Basa Glacier and Tahu Ratum. Let's hope it all goes to plan and we have an excellent adventure!
Luke contacted Kyle Dempster, who kindly sent a very comprehensive reply. We then proceeded to contact anyone we knew, and quite a few people we didn’t, who had been to Pakistan or climbed in the greater ranges. As a team we then drew up a rough budget and itinerary and emailed it to yet more people.
Luckily for us British Mountaineering is well supported by an excellent grant system that favors young climbers, attempting technical new routes, in alpine style, in the greater ranges. After what seemed like an eternity of paper pushing and a mountain of forms, all six grant applications were completed and sent off. Incredibly we received money from all six - check out their websites linked to in the sidebar. A huge thank you goes out to the charities and organisations that have supported us, without their support we would be unable to go to Pakistan this summer.
The other thing we were going to need is kit and lots of it. I began trying to get my head around what we needed and constructing vast lists. Fortunately we already most of the technical gear, but there was a fair amount of that we didn’t. Hamish and I set to blagging, sending out dozens of emails to companies. We were amazed with the response and generosity of companies we approached - some have given us kit, some have lent us stuff, whilst others have kindly let us buy stuff at exceptional discount. A big up to all of them, you’ve really helped us out, please check out their websites in the sidebar.
My experience of organising expeditions so far has been very positive one. It’s very time consuming, but as with everything, you get what put into it.
By Tom Ripley
Tahu Ratum (6651m) is an immaculate granite pyramid which rises approximately 1500 m from the Khana Basi glacier, in the Hispar Muztagh region of the Karakorum. The Mountain has seen one previous ascent. In July 1977, a Japanese team made the mountain’s first ascent via SW Ridge. More recently, American Kyle Dempster attempted to aid solo the West Face in August 2008, but retreated 200 metres beneath the summit due to lack of food.
Tahu Ratum is really Luke’s baby. Whilst alpine dreaming in Chamonix last summer he realised, like Mick Fowler thirty years previously that there are no unclimbed Walker Spurs or Freney Pillars. To find such routes one has to head to the Greater Ranges. After hours of searching through Summit Posts for an unclimbed, aesthetic, rock line on a big mountain he came across Tahu Ratum’s NW Ridge. Perfect, but who to climb it with?
Luke originally approached Will Sim, who initially expressed keen interest. Unfortunately Will couldn’t commit to going to Pakistan as he had already arranged an expedition to Alaska. In the meantime Hamish and I were looking at planning our own expedition and had seriously looking at peaks in the Western Kokshaal-Too area of Kyrgyztan. However we were struggling to find other climbers to join us and the prospect of going somewhere as remote as Kyrgyztan as pair was little bit too daunting.
Luke, Hamish and I know each other very well. We spent last summer together in Chamonix, living, climbing and misbehaving. We climbed the Petit Dru North Face as a three and The Central Pillar of Freney as a four with Jack Metcalf. Luke rang me up in early October, asking if Hamish and I would consider joining forces with him. My initial skepticism vanished the moment I saw a picture. The granite pyramid, looked like the perfect mountain - the Matterhorn on ‘roids and it’s unclimbed. Hamish took even less persuasion and the rest is history.
By Tom Ripley