THE Tokyo University Ski-Alpine Club had been contemplating a Himalayan expedition for a long time but it was not until 1963 that an expedition could be sent to the Karakoram Range. The purpose of the expedition was to climb Baltoro Kangri (7,312 m.) at the head of the Baltoro Glacier.
By courtesy of the Government of Pakistan, official permission for the expedition to enter Kashmir was given to us in February, 1963. After that, all the members were busy preparing for the expedition. By the end of April, 146 packages, about 3-5 tons in total weight, had been shipped from Tokyo to Karachi. Included in the packages were up-to-date mountaineering equipment, special high-altitude food, medical stores and some special equipment for scientific observations.
The twelve members selected for the expedition left Tokyo in two batches, by air, on May 26 and June 2. They travelled via Karachi and across West Pakistan to Rawalpindi. On June 14 and 16 they flew in P.I.A.'s DC3 aircraft from Rawalpindi to Skardu in Baltistan district.
Our party was composed of the following members, accompanied by a Pakistani liaison officer:
Leader: Dr. Seihei Kato (57), Professor of Forest Utilization, Faculty of Agriculture.
Deputy leader: Dr. Hyoriki Watanabe (49), Lecturer of Agricultural Economy, Faculty of Agriculture.
Members: Dr. Sumio Shima (30), Researcher, Medical Institute of Radio Isotope.
Mr. Shoshi Seki (27), Bachelor of Political Science.
Mr. Takeo Shibata (26), Bachelor of Engineering.
Mr. Keikou Fujimoto (26), Bachelor of Economics.
Mr. Kiyomi Okada (26), Medical Doctor, Tokyo University Hospital.
Mr. Masaru Kono (23), Student, Faculty of Science.
Mr. Motoo Yanagisawa (24), Student, Faculty of Agriculture.
Mr. Naosachi Morita (22), Student, Faculty of Science.
Mr. Sadachika Takenouchi (26), Producer, N.H.K.
Mr. Tokutaro Noguchi (30), Cameraman, N.H.K.
Liaison officer: Captain Afsar Khan, Pakistan Army.
View from the summit of the Baltoro Kangri (B.K. III)
Route of Tokyo Univ. Karakoram Expedition, 1963.
We stayed at Skardu for a few days and recruited 205 ordinary porters, five high-altitude porters and a cook. I would like to express my hearty gratitude for the thoughtful help, useful advice and very kind entertainment given to us by Mr. Faizullah Khan, Political Agent for Baltistan, and his able staff.
On June 19 our long march to the Base Camp commenced when we crossed the Indus River by means of the so-called ‘ Alexander ship
In very hot sunshine, the caravan followed the deserted trail along the Shigar River, over which we crossed by the ‘skin boats' at Yuno on the third day's march. At this point I began to suffer severely from arthritis and had to return to Skardu alone. Overall responsibility and the directing activity of the leader was handed over to the deputy leader, Dr. Watanabe, and the march of the caravan then continued.
On June 26 the party arrived at Askole, the final Balti village situated on a terrace beside the Braldu River, at about 3,050 m. At this village the porters were reorganized.
The caravan left Askole on July 1 and, after passing over the primitive suspension bridge at Jula, the tiring march continued on the steep rocky side of the deep valley, until reaching the snout of the great Baltoro Glacier. The glacier was covered with moraine, so that the march on the glacier was much easier and the members could enjoy the ever-changing beauty of the surrounding peaks, such as Masherbrum, the Mustagh Tower, etc.
The party arrived at Concordia on July 10 when, for the first time, all members of the party could see the virgin Baltoro Kangri Peak. The massive snow-covered white mountain (also called the Golden Throne) was really beautiful. They were also most inspired by the glorious view of such famous peaks as K.2, the highest, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum, Chogolisa, etc.
From Concordia they continued to the south-east on the Abruzzi Glacier, and finally established the Base Camp (5,200 m.) on the moraine at the foot of the south Gasherbrum Glacier. It was July 12, 24 days after our departure from Skardu. All the porters were sent back except seven and the cook. Our real mountaineering activity then began.
After a rest and some preliminary surveys, the advanced Camp I (5,600 m.) was established on the upper Abruzzi Glacier on July 16. Our first and most difficult task was how to find the best route to the summit of Baltoro Kangri from this point, because the weather had changed for the worse. The hard work of route- finding was tried in the deep snow but no adequate route was found on the north side of the main Baltoro Kangri Peak. A route was therefore selected to the east, and Camp II (6,000 m.) was established just beneath the Conway Saddle on July 19. From the Conway Saddle a better route to the main ridge of B.K. was found. This route may well be approximately the same as the route to B.K. V traced by Dyhrenfurth's party in 1934.
Route on deep snow, camp I and camp II
Baltoro Kangri seen from Concordia
Crevasses between camp I and camp II
The weather became snowy. The establishment of the higher camps required swimming in deep snow and doing acrobatic feats over bottomless crevasses. We also had to move Camp II about 300 m. to avoid the danger of avalanches. It was found that the native high-altitude porters were not active at altitudes higher than 6,000 m. so that we had to leave them at Camp I. All members of the party therefore had to work very hard because they had to carry all the loads themselves for the erection of Camp III (6,550 m., July 25) and Camp IV (6,950 m., August 2), the latter being situated just beneath the main ridge between B.K. IV and B.K. V.
Early on the morning of August 3 the two members of the summit team, Shibata and Kono, blessed with very fine weather, left Camp IV. But unexpectedly very deep snow and an icy wall hindered their quick progress and forced them to spend one night in a bivouac on the main ridge between B.K. III and B.K. IV.
Next morning, after four hours of hard struggle against steep snow, they reached their goal, the summit of Baltoro Kangri (7,312 m.). It was 9.35 a.m., August 4, 1963. They clearly recognized and confirmed by observation that the highest point was B.K. Ill, and that B.K. II was obviously lower.
Another climbing party, consisting of Shima and Fujimoto, started from Camp III early on the morning of the same day, followed the first summit party and reached the peak 30 minutes later. They met together on the summit. So inspiring was the surrounding beauty of the Karakoram mountains that they stayed on the top for about one hour, with complete satisfaction, and the unforgettable impression of victory.
A rapid return to the Base Camp was made within three days after the ascent of the peak, because weather conditions began to change for the worse again. The successful party left Base Camp for the return journey on August 12 and arrived at Skardu on the 23rd.