October 22, 2012

A Flash of Memory from Trango II

Jonathon Clearwater following in foul weather on the Shield headwall, Trango II 2005. Photo: Jeremy Frimer

Today I found something in the back of the journal I took with me to the Karakoram of Pakistan in 2005.

On this trip our team attempted the first free ascent of the Italian Route on Uli Biaho Tower, and completed the first ascent of Severance Ridge (VI 5.11 (5.10+X obligatory) A2 AI3 M5). Three of us starved and sent in mixed weather over the course of five days, with food for two and a half and a planned outing of three days.

As Jay continued to wait for us while we starved and fought our way through some difficult and runout pitches high on the mountain, he wrote this in the final unused pages of my journal.

"17 August 2005 6:30 pm Uli Biaho Base camp. Jay.

I grow increasingly worried about the boys. My last transmission was around midday as they approached a blank section of the shield as cracks ran out. The last I saw, of them was as they disappeared around the backside of a roof system some 60m below the shoulder of the shield feature. Around 2pm a fierce storm passed through camp and brought heavy rain and wind for an hour. Since this time I have kept a close watch on the shoulder and adjacent 'road' feature but have seen no sign of movement.

8:00 pm

For the second time on this trip fear grips me as I await a sign from the mountains towering over me that my friends are OK. The dusk grows ever darker as the mountain lies silently in the blackness. What is it that instills such paranoia in me to worry and fear the worst? Perhaps it is because I have nothing else to do here in basecamp? Yet there is more to it, something grips me so hard it makes me shiver."

October 2, 2012

Kokshall Too 2012 - We're Back!

Hi All! We just made it back to Bishkek after 25 days in the Western Kokshall Too. We didn't complete our primary objective, a new line on Kizil Asker, but put in a strong attempt hampered by storm. We did complete a  new route on the Ochre walls we called Mr. Casual (IV AI5 600m) as it was relatively casual compared to other objectives of interest, took much video, and I am in process completing two new art pieces - One, an overview of the Western Kokshall Too from the Kormorova Glacier, the second a detail of the 1500m Southeast face of Kizil Asker. 

Painting in the Western Kokshall Too

2m new snow hampered our move to ABC for Kizil Asker. Eventually we got there and put in a strong attempt, climbing fast on day 1 only to get shut down, pummeled and buried at 5300m by another foot of new while on route. All in all a really cool trip, We were sad not send but such is the nature of alpine climbing. Things have to come together - you can't climb through heavy powder avalanches...and hope to survive.

Photo credit - Unknown

Kizil Asker - High point indicated. Avalanches pummeled us at our bivy for approximately 20 hours before we were able to take advantage of a temporary lull to retreat. While on rappel we were hit with spindrift avalanches as well as heavy powder avalanches containing dense debris.

Ochre Walls - Routelines indicated (Click for HiRes)

Ryan and I are happy to have survived  the storm and we got a lot of great video. We are looking forward to getting a chance to sit down and start editing. 

All the best,