The Academic Mountaineering Expedition to tlhe Hindu Kush


(Translated by A. Kus)

THE expedition of the Cracov Academic Alpine Club was aimed at the ascent of Shakhaur (7116 m.) by a new route. Shakhaur was the last of the seven-thousanders of the Hindu Kush not climbed by Polish alpinists uptil 1975. First ascent of this summit was made in 1964 by the Austrians, Gruber and Pischinger, from the Pakistan side. The second ascent belongs to the French expedition led by H. Agresti and was made from the difficult Afghan side (see H. J., Vol. XXX, 1970, pp. 275-7). Their ascent was made in 1969 by the N-buttress which was attempted earlier by J. Warterasiewicz and partners in 1963 during the III Polish Hindu Kush Expedition. Our expedition reached Afghanistan on 31 June 1975.

Between 11 and 22 July all participants were gaining accli¬matisation in the mountain group of Kohe Zebak, attempting to climb two peaks over 5600 m. in the Yasek valley. The surround¬ing; of this valley seem to be very similar to the famous Besengi valley in the Caucasus. Both the attempts were abandoned at about 5000 m. due to bad weather. On 23 July the expedition reached the village Shakhaur in Wakhan and started immediately a 5 day recce in the Shakfraur valley. During the reconneissances the first ascent of the pas Kotgaz AN (5468 m.) was made and the route via the Nadir Shah glacier recognized. The Base Camp (3800 m.) of the expedition was established on 31 July on the Shakhaur glacier. Due to the actual conditions of snow and ice on the mountain we decided to climb Shakhaur by the East ridge from the Kotgaz An and to traverse the peak along the ridge to Nadir Shah (6514 m.) till the pass between M3 and M4, and to descend further via Nadir Shah glacier. The ascent find traverse was planned without intermediary camps, and carrying the provisions and equipment ourselves.

On 3 August the team consisting of M. Bala, E. Chrobak, K. Liazka and J. Maczka came along the moraine of the Hosk glacier to the altitude of 4,400 m., below the pass of Kotgaz An and bivouacked there. Next day we reached the pass in four and a half hours via a very steep ice slope covered with tiny penitentes.

On 5 August we climbed the rock and ice pitch of the ridge.

Shaklhaur 1975.

Shaklhaur 1975.

(grade III-IV) bypassing the ice towers from the north side and then we bivouacked behind the second tower, on a saddle, at 5900 m.

Hard and very difficult was the next day when we climbed the flattening ridge by the smooth ice fields and high blown snow drifts. The night caught the team at an ice slope at 6500 m. After a bivouac on a platform dug in the ice -we set out again. The weather was excellent, only a strong wind regularly beginning at noon and blowing till the evening disturbed us. We were compelled to traverse 200 m. southwards along a big crevasse where it was possible to cross it by a traverse using pitons. In the evening we reached the plateau at 6950 m. and we spent the third night on the ridge. On 8 August about 1 p.m. we climbed the last vertical pitch and reached the summit of Shakhaur. The main summit is a vast place with small rocks. No trases of our predecessors could be found. The same day we descended along the easy ridge near the pass below the Nadir Shah, where we bivouacked at 6600 m.

By detouring round the huge cornices of the ridge we climbed Kohe Nadir Shah at 2.30 p.m. the next day.

There were the traces of the Jugoslavs of 1968 on the peak and below it a flask with a card of the first conquerors (II Polish expedition Hindu Kush 1962.). We then descended along the snowy ridge till its abrupt 400 m. fall. We now made 6 abseils of full rope length (80 m.), very difficult and dangerous due to the brittleness of the belay points. Below was the broad saddle n the summits of M3 and M4 and here we spent the seventh night of our traverse. The further route was marked with flags by our support group (Z. Dudrak, W. Jedlinski and J.wlik). This day we descended to the pass on the ridge. ' M Nadir Shah and Shakhaur Myani glaciers. Again three 80 m. long abseils were necessary to reach the snow fields of Shakhaur Myani. Winding our way between the seracs and crevasses we found the tent of our supporting party at 5000 m. Next day we returned to the Base Camp via the Atrafe Khai valley.

Tin route from Kotgazan to Shakhaur seems to be more difficult than the north buttress. The ascent by the way of established solid camps would involve about. 1200 m. of fixed ropes. We used during our climb, a solid belaying system on 90% of the total length of the ridge* That made it possible to make the whole traverse within a relatively short time.

After two attempts were also made on the West Face of Languta-e-barfi (6827 m.) by the team : Z. Dudrak, W. Jedlinski A. Pawlik. They both failed near 6000 m. after surmounting the main technical difficulties, due to the deteriorating weather. During these two attempts an ice couloir of 60° leading to the south ridge of Languta was climbed and the further route seemed to provide no serious problems. The sickness of the expeditions doctor who contracted jaundice and the threat of infection of other participants compelled the expedition to abandon further activities and return home.


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