PARBAT: A NEW ROUTE ON THE RUPAL FACE CLIMBED IN ALPINE STYLE
6 September, at 17:45 Vince Anderson and I stood on the windless
summit of Nanga Parbat after six days of climbing. We had climbed
a new, direct route on the Rupal Face. Famous for being one of the
biggest, if not the biggest, wall in the world and because it saw
its first ascent in 1970 by Reinhold and Gunther Messner.
Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat with the Anderson-House line of September
and I started at 4:00 on 1 September carrying 16kg of equipment
each. We had pared the equipment to the minimum we thought was necessary.
We carried a 1kg tent and one synthetic sleeping bag that I sewed
especially for this route. We had the minimum of food and fuel.
Our rack consisted of 3 cams, 10 nuts, 9 titanium pitons, 5 ice
screws, and 10 runners. We climbed on a 8mm rope and carried a 5mm
static rope to use for the many rappels back down the face. Each
was cut to 50 meters long.
first two nights we followed the route climbed by myself and Bruce
Miller in 2004. (to 7,500m, no summit). On the third day, searching
for more of an adventure than merely completing the 2004 line and
dealing with more snow on the wall that we found in 2004, Vince
and I headed straight up the prominent pillar in the center of the
day we climbed many pitches. (We lost count around 15, and if you
counted the simulclimbing it was probably more than 30) After 18
hours of climbing we finally reached a place where we could bivuoac.
was most nervous about the next day. So far we had climbed a mostly-safe,
beautiful direct line. But the photos I had and the reconnaisance
I had done had revealed no easy way through the rock barrier above
us. After several hours of mostly moderate ice climbing which we
soloed, we took a break just below the key section. I was hoping
for an ice line that we could climb quickly. And after a deep breath,
I set off to the right, and was rewarded by the site of a grade
3 or 4 icefall above us. I was so happy, and so keen to make this
section go as quickly as possible, I soloed the 50 meters of steep
ice with my pack while Vince waited below. At that moment I felt
like I was flying above the mountains, I was so happy to find this
key passage. After climbing the pitch I lowered the rope to Vince
and belayed him up to me.
stayed in lead for the rest of the afternoon and the coming night.
As quickly as possible we climbed up through several more steep
(but not as serious) steps of ice. Conditions were excellent, but
we needed to find a bivuoac soon.
is when we had our closest brush with disaster. We were simu-climbing
with me in the lead and I was trying to get on top of a narrow ridge
in hopes of discovering some place to set the tent. While mounting
the cornice, it broke out from underneath me. Me feet swung free
and one of my ice axes pulled out. By luck my other ice tool stayed
put and I got my feet back in and quickly swung over onto the other
side of the very narrow ridge, which unfortunately was just as steep
on the other side. The big pieces of hard snow hit Vince and fortunately
he did not get pulled off. If he had I am sure my one tool would
not have held both of us and my last ice screw was more that 20
meters below me. It was a very dangerous moment.
the end we were able to cut off the top of the ridge just 20 meters
higher and pitch the tent in a very small and exposed (but flat)
the morning we rapelled back to the main ice gully and continued
to our high bivuoac at approximently 7,400 meters. This day was
tiring only because of the altitude as the technical difficulties
eased the higher we climbed.
day was physically one of the hardest days I have ever had in the
mountains. We had climbed for five days with very limited chance
for recovery. Fortunately the weather was perfect. But I was not
sure that we would succeed until we arrived just below the south
summit at over 8,000 meters and could see the last easy meters to
descent ran late into the night. We made mistakes and climbed slowly.
Nearly losing our 5mm rope at one point and having difficulty with
the rappels which seemed to be always getting tangled and stuck.
the morning we packed as soon as we could and organized for the
descent. Our plan was to rappel the steep wall below us to the Merkyl
Icefield where we would join the 1970-Messner route and follow that
route to the base of the wall. The weather was still good, but during
the afternoons the clouds showed some sign that would end soon.
made many rappels that day and down climbed as much as possible.
We continued late into the night. Finally halting about 2,000 meters
lower than we started (approx 5,500m) when Vince dropped his headlamp
and my batteries began to fail.
next day we sluggishly made our way down to the valley, meeting
our Liason Officer and several excited locals near the 1970 basecamp
in the early afternoon. After one full day of rest we had to pack
up and trek out in order for Vince to make his flight on the 14th
which would allow him to get to work as a guide examiner on 16 September.
Nanga Parbat, 8125m. The Central Pillar of the Rupal Face. 1-8 September,
2005. Anderson/ House. (4,100m, M5 X, 5.9, WI4).
that if you measure the face from the Bazhin Glacier right where
the face starts, it is 4,125 meters. Some people measure the face
as 5,000 meters, but to get 5,000 meters you have to measure from
the village of Tarshing where you start the trek to basecamp. 4,100
meters seems to us like an honest measurement of the amount of climbing
on the face.