In August 2017, four friends travelled to the Shimshal valley in northern Pakistan to look for unclimbed peaks. George, Steve, Clay and Ross had previous expedition experience but due to work commitments could only afford three weeks away.
This was a bold and risky plan as the team would only spend a week at basecamp and be living above 4400m after 4 days. With the help of the 5th team member and local guide Karim Hayat, the team found a number of unclimbed mountains between 5800m - 6000m, easily accessible from the Gunj-e Dur glacial system.
Topo of 5585m peak and 6015m peak
The team made a three day walk in from the village of Shimshal to a basecamp site in the valley. After three further days of acclimatising, advanced base camps were established and two first ascents were made. In the First East Gunj-e Dur Glacier, George, Ross and Karim attempted the SE face of Pk 6150. Unfortunately George had to descend from 5500m due to AMS. Ross and Karim carried on to reach the summit ridge. The highest peak on the ridge was unreachable with the current snow pack so they made the first ascent of the nearer peak, naming it Yad Sar (Remembrance Peak) 6015m. Meanwhile Steve and Clay had turned their attention to an unclimbed peak in the Second East Gunj-e Dur Glacier, summiting the day before at 5855m. The team remained in basecamp for a few more days before descending, spending time in Shimshal, Hunza and Islamabad on the return.
Climbing on Yad Sar (Photograph George Cave)
For a country with a reputation in the West for terrorism and kidnapping, the team felt safe and relaxed throughout the entire visit. The Karakorum Highway, against which the FCO advise all travel along, was extremely secure. The approach trek towards the Shimshal Pass was stunning and a highlight of the expedition. Travel in this friendly and hospitable country is highly recommended.
View from Yad Sar (Photograph Ross Davidson)
S. Carratt, C. Conlon, R. Davidson, G. Cave, K. Hayat