Himalayan Journal vol.29
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.29

Publication year:
1969

Editor:
Soli S. Mehta
Index
  1. Editorial
  2. RENNELL AND THE SURVEYORS OF INDIA
    (G. F. HEANEY)
  3. INDIA UNDERGROUND
    (S. A. CRAVEN)
  4. AFTER EVEREST-THE FUTURE OF INDIAN MOUNTAINEERING
    (ASHOKA MADGAVKAR)
  5. THE ISWA KHOLA HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION, 1969
    (J. P. WARD, M.B., F.R.C.S.)
  6. KOYO ZOM, PECHUS ZOM, GAINTHIR CHISH, GAHKUSH, DAS BAR ZOM AND OTHER PEAKS OF HINDU RAJ, 1968
    (ALBERT STAMM (O.A.V.))
  7. HINDU KUSH EXPEDITION OF THE MOUNTAINEERING TOURIST GROUP GRAZ, 1968
    (HEINZ BADURA)
  8. DIRAN, 1968
    (RUDOLF PISCHINGER)
  9. WAKHAN, 1968
    (HENRI AGRESTI)
  10. WAKHAN CORRIDOR AND LUNKHO, 1968
    (ALES KUNAVER)
  11. THE DESCENT OF LUNKHO
    (DR. R. A. NORTH)
  12. NORTH KOHISTAN, 1968
    (R. COLLTSTER)
  13. A VISIT TO THE USHNU GOL (NE. CHITRAL), 1968
    (M. H. WESTMACOTT)
  14. ON THE BANKS OF RAKTAVARN GLACIER, 1968
    (G. R. PATWARDHAN)
  15. RETURN TO KANJIROBA, 1969
    (JOHN TYSON)
  16. TREKKING IN KASHMIR
    (H. STEYSKAL)
  17. A WALK THROUGH THE GREAT HIMALAYAN AND ZASKAR RANGES FROM KISHTWAR TO LEH (LAD AKH), 1968
    (SHEO RAJ SINGH)
  18. THE INDO-BRITISH HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION-1969
    (MAJ. H. V. BAHUGUNA)
  19. THE SUNDER DUNGA-THARKOT (20,010 ft.) EXPEDITION, 1969
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  20. THE AMERICAN DHAULAGIRI EXPEDITION, 1969
    (By William A. Read)
  21. THE FOURTH ASCENT OF TIRICH MIR WEST,1 1969
    (CAPTAIN HENRY DAY)
  22. AUTUMN UNDER MALUBITING
    (ANDRZEJ KUS)
  23. BARCELONA HINDU-KUSH EXPEDITION, 1969
    (JOSE-MANUEL ANGLADA)
  24. THE PROBLEM OF ISTOR-O-NAL
    (DR. A. DIEMBERGER)
  25. THE SARAGHRAR PEAKS
    (DR. A. DIEMBERGER)
  26. THE LUNKHOS
    (DR. A. DIEMBERGER)
  27. EXPEDITION NOTES, 1969
  28. MOUNTAINS ABOVE 7,300 m. (23,950 ft.)
  29. OBITUARY
  30. BOOK REVIEWS
  31. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1969

AUTUMN UNDER MALUBITING

ANDRZEJ KUS

Polish Karakoram Expedition, 1969

By ANDRZEJ KUS
F
rom Gharesa summit to south and west I had a bird's-eye view of the whole of the country we had been working in, culminating in the great wall of ice-covered pyramids that overshadow the head of Barpu and Bualtar glaciers. It was indeed a panorama of such tremendous magnitude and infinite complexity that one despaired of ever being able to capture its contours on a map.'

It is a pleasure to remember these words of Peter Mott, a cartographer of Shipton's 1939 expedition that produced an excellent map of the western Karakoram, as they just refer to our Malubi- ting Massif. We experienced a similar feeling while we stood on Malubiting's North Peak (6,843 m.) on 8 October 1969.

Mighty peaks of Batura Mustagh, Trivor, Distaghil Sar to the north and an unlimited 'meadow of mountains" to the east and south-east with the bold pyramid of K-2 in the farthest horizon, hardly visible. A real mountain paradise!

But to reach it we had to overcome difficulties too numerous in proportion to the small size of our team. Richard Szafirski (32), leader, Andrej Heinrich (32), Roman Petrycki (45), cameraman, and Andrzej Kus (29) were its members ; Capt. Irntiaz Ahmad Khan accompanied us as liaison officer.

When leaving Poland we believed that the permission granted by the Government of Pakistan for Malubiting Peak (24,451 ft.) would render possible a reconnaissance of peaks above the Hispar glacier, an area which the Polish Mountaineering Club had been interested in since 1965. But in Rawalpindi, which we reached on 5 August after an 18-day overland journey from Poland, our first troubles began; we were informed that an approach from the north via the Hunza Valley and Barpu glacier would not be permitted owing to a temporary closure of that region for expeditions. We then obtained Foreign Office permission for an approach from the SE. via the 6 arterial road' of the Chogolungma glacier, no less convenient but more than twice as long. The original Pakistan Government proposal that we follow the route from Gilgit via Bunji, Sassli and Baskai glacier was something to which we could not agree having in mind the hard experience of the 1968 Manchester Malubiting party.

Skardu, Baltistans metropolis, saw our expeditions arrival late on 23 August as monsoon clouds over the Kaghan Valley had prevented the PIA Fokker Friendship aircraft from making the flight earlier. In spite of much kindness shown by the Political Agent and other important officials we had to wait until the end of August for written permission allowing us to proceed via the Chogolungma glacier.

We were extremely happy to depart finally on 1 Sept. towards our mountain via the good Shigar Valley road with all our loads in a tractor belonging to Hajee Hussain ; and a friendly Ghulam Rasul-a veteran of Masherbrum-as sirdar. His experience was very helpful in the early stages of the expedition since all of us, including our young liaison officer, were Himilayan greenhorns. We were the first Polish expedition to visit either the Karakoram or the Himalaya since 1939, when a party led by Adam Karpinski climbed Nanda Devi East (7,434 m.) in Garhwal.[1]
The people in Yuno, the last village for us on a jeepable road in the Shigar Valley before its junction with the Braldu, had rather forgotten about sahibs and expeditions, as none had passed this way since 1965. But Ghulam Rasul cleverly gathered 23 porters and soon after crossing the Shigar River on inflated goat-skin rafts we sat by a fire on a pasture together with our coolies, passing an unforgettable evening of Polish-BaltiTolk dance and song. The next three days, which were beautiful and full of impressions, brought us to Arandu via Chutran and Doko. But our good luck had lasted too long, and fresh troubles began here. The people of Arandu literally banished the Yuno porters ; and having thus acquired a monopoly went on strike the next day, demanding their own choice of the distance to be covered each day, which would vastly increase the cost of our porter caravan. We, therefore, wished them good-bye and started our journey along the true left bank of the Chogolungma accompanied by only six faithful porters headed by Ali Akbar. The last stage from Bolocho across the glacier to Palichor, where we placed our Base Camp at 4,300 metres under Spantik's shoulder, was pure enjoyment for us. Five ferry trips with loads of 70 to 80 lb. each, we found very similar to a reaper's job in the country; especially as we were awakened to work each day in middle of the glacier by the loud crowing of a cock (representing 'fresh food' for our liaison officer).

Base Camp was established on 17 Sept., the official start of autumn according to our calendar as Andrej our ‘Mr. Experience noted with a bit of anxiety. But things began to go rather well. We found a short cut from Palichor to the upper Chogo via the steep grassy slopes of Spantik's shoulder, thus avoiding the icefall; and soon reached the neve of the upper glacier where Camps I and II were established. The best route above this point soon became quite evident. Reports of both post-war expeditions to the Chogolungma, the 1955 Frankfurter Karakoram Expedition which climbed Spantik (7,029 m.) and the 1959 Army Mountaineering Expedition which made an ascent of the East Peak (6,970 m.) of Malubiting, described a troublesome climb between the pass (c. 5,600 m.) and the East summit, from which access to the Central Peak seemed to be impossible. So we made our first objective the virgin North Peak (6,843 m.) situated on the extreme right of the splendid Malubiting crown. The obvious route led up a glacier cirque at the head of Chogolungma and a steep wall of snow and ice about 350 metres high. This basin was dangerous because of avalanches during certain hours of the day; but we soon reached the wall and tackled it with a fixed rope. It seemed funny climbing up this wall when we were faced with a downhill pitch owing to a huge crevasse in the middle of the face. Reaching the col (5,840 m.), we found ourselves on a pass overlooking the Barpu glacier which provided us with a splendid view to the north, and all peaks from Batura to Trivor seemed to be familiar to us. In Polish Tatra there is a pass, ' Mieguszowiecka Pod Chtopkiemwith a fingerlike pinnacle on it. Richard immediately proposed to call it Polan La, Polish Pass, as we found here a similar rocky 6 Chtopek' between the snowy saddle.

Just below it we pitched two small tents of Camp III. It was already 27 Sept. and after a snowstorm in the night we all decided to descend to Base Camp together with Roman who was in support at Camp II. This was reasonable from the acclimatization point of view and also due to the fact that Capt. Imtiaz reported by radio from Base Camp a weather forecast of an 80 per cent probability of thunderstorms and snow for the next few days. It was in fact during this time that the Italian expedition had to withdraw from K-6.

We moved up again from Base Camp on 2 Oct. feeling already a fresh blow of winter air. Up to the col Roman accompanied us together with his cameras, but beyond this point the ‘film job' was handled by Richard. Somebody had reported to us earlier that the upper part of the Barpu glacier was a 6 bicycle road' to Malubiting. But this was not so. Our experience was of steep icefalls with continuously thundering avalanches. We chose the ridge above the Polish Pass as the best way up. There was about 300 metres of moderate climbing (Grades II-III) where we put fixed ropes ; and this opened the way to the North Peak. We climbed this easily on 8 Oct. from Camp IV (6,200 m.) and came back to camp early in the afternoon. The next day was more laborious as we pushed loads forward and set up Camp V at 6,750 metres on Malubiting plateau, walking in deep snow. This huge plateau is an unusual feature containing great crevasses. One would never expect, looking from the Chogolungma on a sharply formed crown of three Malubitings, that on the other side it might be so spacious and inviting. But on this occasion the invitation was not cordial. After a cold (-34 °C) night spent by three in a tiny tent, we started early with high hopes towards the main summit, i.e. Malubiting West (7,453 m.), which seemed to be very near. But soon clouds gathered from the west and a steadily increasing wind brought a violent snowstorm. As the snow grew deeper, our efforts ceased to be effective. About 1 p.m., being somewhere near the col between the Central and West Peaks (at c. 7,100 m.), we ultimately had to give up. There was no chance of the summit this day and no food left for holding out some days, especially as the North Peak slopes were gradually becoming more avalanche-prone.

An immediate retreat was the only solution, and we felt secure only when, having dismantled the higher camps in very bad weather and deep snow, Roman and Imtiaz greeted us at Base with a fine dinner and few drops of brandy saved from home.

Twenty days later in the early days of November, flying back past Nanga Parbat and looking on the whole panorama covered all around with a brilliantly white blanket of winter snow, we began to long for the Karakoram again ; and to hope for new Polish ventures here on higher peaks.


[1] H.J., Vol. XII, 1940, p. 65.

MALUBITING AND CHOGOLUNGMA GLACIER

MALUBITING AND CHOGOLUNGMA GLACIER