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