SHIMSHAL-MALANGUTTI GLACIER EXPEDITION, 1991

PAUL HUDSON

THE YORKSHIRE SHIMSHAL Malangutti Glacier Expedition set out to provide high-mountain experience for its members and hoped to reach and climb Pyramid peak which lies at the top of the glacier under Disteghil Sar. There were seven members who spent about 6 weeks in Pakistan. (23 July to 31 August 1991.)

The Shimshal valley lies north of Gilgit just above and to the east of Pasu. The Karakoram Highway provides reasonable access to this area. Local buses and minibuses for private hire are available from Gilgit. The Shimshal gorge through which all visitors travel has steep sides with the path being built out from the rock face in certain places; it is generally dusty and has the effect of channelling the winds. Its bridges, which vary in construction are all interesting. We were told that the present inhabitants came to the valley around 400 years ago finding that it had previously been inhabited, then deserted. Trekking groups are now beginning to use this valley on a regular basis but many glaciers and side valleys remain unexplored. Shimshalis are subsistence farmers who grow crops in the summer months by irrigating their fields every two days or so via a series of diverted streams. The crops we saw included peas, potatoes, wheat, barley and apricots. In the winter when the « work in the fields is at a minimum the men weave yak hair rugs and the women knit. We employed a young Shimshali teaching student from Gilgit, Quadrat Ali, as cook/guide.

We chose this area because of its peak possibilites and because it is rarely affected by the annual monsoon, an important factor as some members were available only in August.

As no-one had been on an expedition prior to this one, we all had a lot to learn, and learn we did. Some members are already planning to use this new knowledge in new ventures.

Research had identified a peak lying at the head of the Malangutti qlacier, under Disteghil Sar the 7884 m peak which dominates this area. Pyramid peak had not, as far as we knew, been reached let .ilone climbed and at 5500 m provided us with a realistic aim. As well as this primary aim it was evident that a number of other options would be available and both virgin and previously climbed peaks were noted.

The team visited Shimshal village at the start of the expedition as guests of Quadrat All and then concentrated on the mountain area itself. $ome time was wasted by looking for a non-existent path on the west side of the glacier before using the central moraine as a way of getting to Madhil Sar. From a camp at glacier level (ABC) below Madhil Sar we moved up to a high meadow at the bottom of the Adver Sar circ

This was Cl and provided us with some acclimatisation peaks. Everyone climbed a 5200 m peak above a valley looking down onto Shimshal village. Three members also examined the lower slopes of Madhil Sar and Shiffkitten Sar but did not make attempts on these peaks. Two members climbed a second rock peak from Cl on loose and overhanging rock.

In preparation for Pyramid peak the glacier was explored a second time and thought to be difficult above the highest point reached. On the day of the attempt to force a way through the icefall to Pyramid peak the team reached an ice meadow and sent two people off to find a route. This proved impossible and after taking two hours to gain around 500 m they returned to the main party.

A route to the west edge of the glacier was then found and the party established C2 on a flowery meadow, below a good looking peak of snow and rock. The following day a bivi was reached on a stone covered glacier. At 3 a.m. on 20 August the whole group set off for the last peak believed to be 5800 m and uriclimbed. Three turned back at a col but three others continued up a steepening snow slope and reached the top. Clouds stole the hoped for views. If unclimbed the peak has been named 'Straker Sar'. The altimeter reading at this peak was 5500 m.

Two members also put up a rock route 120 m above C2, they graded it III and named it 'Special K'. The buttress was named '3K Buttress.'

The weather experienced should encourage others, as we had 18 fine days out of the 23 spent in the mountains.

The area still abounds in interesting challenges at below 6000 m height and a number of smaller unexplored valleys could provide interesting diversions. If our altimeter reading is correct then some peaks in the area could well fall to a sub-6000 m height and be accessible on a trekking permit.

Summary: Climbs on the Malangutti glacier by a British team in July-August 1991.