FOUR members of the Styrian High Mountain Club of the OAV: H. Sturm, K. Pirker, H. Schell and the leader of the expedition H. Schindlbacher, all from Graz, succeeded on 23 August to reach the main summit of the Malubiting massif in the Karakoram (7,549 m.). This was the seventh attempt after the previous six by the Germans, British, Japanese, Pakistani and the Polish. Malubiting has been the most frequently attempted summit in the Karakoram since 1955.
The medical care was in the able hands of the wellknown Polish climber Dr. J. Hajdukiewicz from Zakopane. From Rawalpindi we were accompanied by the Pakistani Army Officer, Capt. Md. Azad Khan upto the Base Camp.
The expedition was carried out in memory of Dr. A. Schussler who was to be a member of this expedition but who died in a tragic accident in August 1970 on Mt. Maudit in the Mt. Blanc area.
23 August 1971. We cross a slope of the snow ridge. We are 70 metres below the summit. Upto the calves I sink into the snow as I progress. A few minutes before 3 p.m. Hilmer and I cross the last metres of the snow slope of the summit. Kurt has just reached the saddle between the middle and main summit. Hanns will be with us within half an hour.
The sky above us is cloudless and we do not feel the slightest wind. The rays of the sun are so powerful that they overcome the cold air at this height. 6000 m. below us glitters the Indus river. We behold the small green areas of the oasis settlements, the alpine meadows and forests amid large yellow-brown stone and sand slopes of the desert valleys.
Photo Plates 28 and 29.
We do not celebrate our success. We have no flag or pendants to hold heroically against the sky or to plant into the summit snow. For two hours we sit on a small rock terrace above the enormous Southwall.
It is almost 2 months since we left Graz in 2 VW transport in which we stowed 750 kgs of equipment and food. In 7 days and 6 nights we drove 7500 km. One week we spent in the humid heat of Rawalpindi, Islamabad. First we awaited our expedition clearance and then for clear flying weather. Monsoon clouds over Nanga Parbat dislocated the flights to Kashmir.
On 15 July we decided for the land route and drove in our vehicles 200 km. upto the town of Balakot. In 3 jeeps we travel for some days through the Kaghan valley, over the 4200 m. high Babusar-pass into the desert gorge of the Indus and on to Skardu. In a raft of wooden poles and inflated goatskins we crossed the main stream of the Shigar. I remember the wild landscape of the Basha-valley; a sand and stone desert with small green oasis at the mouth of the side valleys. Through the flat roofs of the stone houses and the narrow, high poplar trees we caught a glimpse of the ice summits of the Karakoram. In Arandu, a 3000 m. high settlement at the tongue of the Chogolungma glacier, we changed some of our 31 porters. Here live a simple folk of the mountain people in an environment of the barest necessities for human beings. Our liaison Officer Capt. A. Khan proved an excellent help for fixing the porters' payments and work plan.
We needed 3 1/2 days for the 35 km. march along the edge of the moraine, over the Chogolungma glacier to reach our Base Camp at 4200 m. height. The porters were dispensed with. We only retained the head porter to remain with Capt. Azad at the main camp as a cook and bearer.
During the next 2 weeks we explored a 12 km. long route over moraine and crevasses of the glacier in order to reach the huge ice slopes and ridges of Malubiting. We carried loads of 20/25 kg; we overcame the ice-slope of Polen-La and fixed a 200 m. rope on the difficult rock above Camp II.
By 8 August, we four were at Camp II at the ice ridge of Polen-La to investigate different routes for one or two more camps and the assault on the summit. Due to a severe monsoon storm we had to remain inside our tents for six days and nights. As our provisions had run very low we had to descend over the south slope of the pass which was quite fraught with danger due to half metre deep new snow.
By 19 August the weather had improved to permit a second assault. We left the Base Camp and reached next day our tents at Polen-La. With our heavy load of 25 kg we had yet to cross the rock band above the camp in strong wind and snow, but the weather improved as we got higher. On 21 August we had erected two small tents on the ridge of the north summit at 6200 m. This is Camp III. The sky is cloudless.
22 August we kept only a small depot of food and some equipment on the small terrace of Camp III. Kurt sinks upto the knees into the powdery snow 50 m. above the ridge and reaches the first terrace of the large plateau.
From here we can again make use of our short skis. A serac-step halts us for over 2 hours in the mid-day heat. Sometimes I sink upto the hips into the loose snow. In the evening we erect the tents which we dismantled at Camp III. The tent stands 900 m. below the summit between fissures and ice-towers.
23 August Hilmer sets out at 5-30 a.m., Kurt and Hanns follow, and at 6 a.m. I too leave. We have only three pairs of skis. Hilmar will use his skis only upto the beginning of the steep slopes and will leave them there for Kurt.
About 50 m. below the saddle at a height of 7150 m. we make a dump for our rucksacks and skis. The weather and the terrain permit an assault of the last 300 m. with an ice axe in our hand and chocolates in our pockets. We brew tea and wait for Hanns; then we start on our last stage. In 2 ½ hrs. we shall be on the summit.
It is 5 p.m. the sun climbs over the summits of Rakaposhi; and we begin to feel how cold the air is. We descended to the depot. Our skis take us over the wide slopes to Camp IV.