2014 New Zealand Expedition to the High Hindu Kush, Pakistan

Objectives:

Unclimbed South Face of Langua-tai-Barfi ( 7071m)
Unclimbed SE Face of Shakawr (7016m)

picturs of high hindukush 052Summary

Summary

The objective of this expedition is to make the double first ascents of the South Face of Langua-tai-Barfi (7071m) and the South East Face of Shakawr (7116m). Both these routes will be tackled from the Roshgol Glacier (Hindu Kush Range) in NW Pakistan in June/July 2014.
The peaks lie on the border between Pakistan and the Wakhan Corridor region of Afghanistan. Shakawr has been climbed once from Pakistan (in 1969 from the west). Langua-tai-Barfi has never been climbed from Pakistan, although it was climbed from the Afghan side in the early 1960’s. There has been no record of any exploration by climbers into the upper reaches of the Roshgol Glacier. There is every possibility we will be the first people ever into this isolated location.
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Background

The Hindu Kush has seen little climbing activity compared to the more popular Karakoram Range of Pakistan. During the 1970’s and 80’s the Afghan (northern) side of the range was popular amongst European climbers who would travel overland to Afghanistan via Turkey and Iran. But the war with Russia and the ensuing Mujahedeen and Taliban rules put pay to this and it is only recently that a smattering of climbers have returned.
The Pakistan (southern) side of the range has seen little activity since 9/11 and the subsequent Taliban infiltration of the North West Territories. But in 2010 Government forces outed the Taliban and the area is now one of the most peaceable parts of Pakistan.
The Roshgol Glacier has been host to only one climbing expedition. In 1967 a team from the Hitotsubashi University Mountaineering Club (Japan) obtained permission to climb in the area. They made ascents of Saraghar (7300m), Nohbaisnom Zom (6600m) and Udren-Zom (7131m) but did not venture as far up the glacier as Shakawr or Langua-tai-Barfi. The Roshgol Glacier has continued to be neglected by climbers , probably due to the strong attraction of Tirich Mir and Noshaq, the two highest peaks in the Hindu Kush which lie a short distance to the west.
Pat Deavoll has twice climbed in the Hindu Kush Range in recent years. In 2011 she made the first ascent of the NW Ridge of Koh-e-Baba-Tangi (6600m) in the Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan. In 2012 she returned to the Wakhan to make the first ascent of the West Ridge of Koh-e-Rank (6200m). It is this familiarity with and enthusiasm for the Hindu Kush Range that inspires her to return to the Pakistan to attempt these two unclimbed 7000m faces.

The climbers

Pat Deavoll: Pat has been climbing mountains since 1975. As well as climbing extensively throughout the Southern Alps over the past 35 years, she has taken part in expeditions to Alaska (2002, 2003) China/Tibet (2005, 2006), India (2004, 2007, 2010), Nepal (1985, 1986) and Pakistan (1986, 2007, 2008, 2009). She has also climbed waterfall ice in Canada (1999, 2000) to a high standard, and rock climbed prolifically in New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Europe, UK and USA. She was the Macpac/CMC Mountaineer of the Year in 1999, and the Next Magazine Sportswoman of the Year in 2012.

Chris Todd: Chris was a prolific mountaineer in the 1970’s and 80’s before giving away climbing for career and family. He is now climbing again with a vengeance. Chris is the South Island manager for the New Zealand Society of Forest and Bird.

The routes and tactics

As both mountains are above 7000m, the routes are long. The SE Face of Shakawr is over 3000m high, while the South Face of Langua-tai-Barfi is 2800m high. The climbers intend to acclimatise on terrain close to Basecamp before attempting, first Langua-tai-Barfi, and then, if all goes well, Shakawr. They expect to take approximately five- seven days to ascend and descend each of the peaks. They will be self-sufficient above basecamp and climb in ‘alpine’ style.

The environment

The Hindu Kush has some of the most stable weather of any mountain region in the world. Being so far west, it is free of the effects of the monsoon that trouble the Himalayas and the eastern side of the Karakoram. It is extremely dry, in fact the landscape could be described at mountain desert. Temperatures in the valleys can be extreme. It’s not uncommon to get temperatures in the 40 deg C up to 4000m.
The area is heavily glaciated, although the glaciation is reasonably stable and the threat to climbers from icefall less likely than in the Karakoram. Climbers must deal with long stretches of moraine in the approach to their objectives as is the case with this expedition. There is 15km of moraine to be covered between Basecamp and the base of Shakawr, further for Langua-tai- Barfi. The team will set up an ‘advanced base camp’ below Shakawr.
Because of the harshness of the environment, the Hindu Kush is sparsely populated. The inhabitants are Ismailie Muslim and relatively liberal in their outlook towards westerners (compared to the Shite and Sunni’ factions). However, expedition members will still be expected to dress respectfully so as not to offend.


Support and finances

To support our expedition we will be employing Tirich Mir Travel who are based in Chitral, the main town of the NW Territories. The company is owned by Rehmeg Baig. Tirich Mir Travel was recommended by Nicholas Kroupis of Holland, who has used the company for several expeditions into the Buni Zom Range, south of the Hindu Kush.

The support consists of the following:

Expenses Detail Euro

Transportation in Islamabad for members and luggage to carry to bus station. 25
Insurance of Guide/ Cook/Assistant Cook/ Porters 50
Transport (Van) from Islamabad to Chitral or Chitral to Islamabad for member and equipment. (One way) 150
2 Climbers food for 4 Days Trek and 10 Days at BC @ Euro 13 per day per person
14x13x2 364
3 days meal in Zondrangram on arrival and return, @ 13 Euros per day per person 13x2x3 156
Porters to Carry foodstuff /Tents/ Kitchen Equipment for BC. 12 porters 540
Porters to Carry Members personal High Camps food/Equipment etc for BC @ 75 Kgs per member 270
Kerosene Oil for Members/ Porters for BC and Trek 45
2Dome tents for members for BC, Mess Tent 1, Toilet and Kitchen Tents 1+1 250
Kitchen Utensils/Tables and Chairs etc for BC 100
Transport in Chitral for shopping 30
Transport from Chitral to Zondrangram for Members, for both ways 280
Transport from Chitral to Zondrangram for Food/Equipment, for both ways. 280
Camping Site fee in Zondrangram 40
Fresh meat for Members/Porters 90
One Guide at BC. 180
One Cook (Wages/Kit Equipment) 190
Porters from BC to Zondrangram (11 Porters) 495
Porters from BC to Zondrangram to carry members personal Kit/equipment. 2 porters. 90
Terichmir Travel handling Charges @ Euros 30 per person 60
Total Cost for members 3685
This equates to NZ$6841.00 (31/12/13)

Other expenses
Government Peaks fee x 2 7000m peaks NZ$750
Climbing and travel insurance New Zealand Alpine Club NZ$750
Airline flights Emirates NZ- Islamabad NZ$4400
Equipment and clothing NZ$2000
High climbing food NZ$200
Sundry NZ$500
Pakistan visas NZ$300
Total cost for members NZ$7507

Total cost of expedition: NZ$ 14,648

Itinerary

We will be flying into Islamabad early/mid- June. After a short stay during which we visit with representatives of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, we will drive 12 hours to the town of Chitral. Another day of 4WD travel gets us to the end of the road and the village of Zondrangram (2500m). Here we collect porters and walk for two days up the Tirich Mir (river) to our basecamp site at Kotgaz (4300m). We will be accompanied by a representative from Tirich Mir Travel and a camp Cook. We will be in the area for a month, firstly acclimatising close to basecamp, and then setting up an advanced basecamp at the head of the Roshgol Glacier, 15km away, from which to attempt out objectives. We will return to Islamabad five weeks later.

Conclusion

Due to a number of variables, we feel we have a very strong chance of summiting one, if not both of these objectives. In our favour is:
1) The settled weather in the Hindu Kush.
2) Pat’s familiarity and success climbing in the Hindu Kush Range and her past experiences climbing in the Karakoram Range of Pakistan.
3) Her experience travelling within a Muslim culture.
4) The general strength and experience of the team.
To make a first ascent on a 7000m peak is no mean feat; to do this as a team of two in alpine style will elevate the achievement into the world class ranks, and highlight the growing strength of alpinism in New Zealand. Pat and Chris will act as role models and examples to the growing number of younger Kiwi alpinists and encourage them to explore further afield than Patagonia or the Khumbu.

To discover the lesser visited mountain regions of the world where the real adventure starts.

Zondonagram Village

Barfi and routeUdren Zom and SE Face of Shakawr5