As you’ve probably gathered we’re a team of three young climbers, off to the Karakoram this summer. This will be our first greater ranges expedition and we will attempt to climb the unclimbed NW Ridge of Tahu Ratum in alpine style. We won’t use bottled oxygen, Diamox, high altitude porters or fixed ropes. It will just be the three of us, carrying all our kit, food and fuel. After a period of acclimatisation we’ll start at the bottom and attempt climb to the top. We’ll attempt to free climb the route wherever possible, but no doubt we’ll end up using the odd aid or rest point.
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