UKC

TRIP REPORT: Tagas Expedition 2015

Between 18th August and 2nd October a Polish expedition to the unexplored region of the Tagas Mountains in the Karakoram, Pakistan took place. Tomasz Klimczak reports on a successful trip.


Next arm of Lachit Valley: Ogre and Polish Couloir on left, 241 kb
Next arm of Lachit Valley: Ogre and Polish Couloir on left
© Tomasz Klimczak

The area is located near Lachit Village south of the K6 massif. We were the first expedition that received a permit to enter Lachit Valley as it is under military control.  

Our expedition consisted of four members of the Polish National Team in Alpinism: Tomasz Klimczak, Maciej Bedrejczuk, Marcin Wernik and Maciej Janczar. We knew each other very well having climbed major north faces in the Alps and many winter routes in the Tatra Mountains together. 

Exploration

During one month stay in BC we explored two arms of the Lachit Valley surrounded by approx. 6000m high beuatiful mountains, taking many pictures and aerial films from the drone. We also managed to climbed two virgin peaks. The first summit was an easy acclimatisation ascent. We named it the Goat Peak 4991m.

photo
Goat Peak
© Tomasz Klimczak

Dream Walker Peak

The second mountain was a real climbing adventure with an unplanned bivi and unexpected weather breakdown. The route was climbed in two days in light OS alpine style without bivi equipment. We proposed the name of peak as Dream Walker Peak 5809m and the name of route Rolling (D)Ice. The crux of route was an AI5 ice pitch with a 15mm unprotected ice layer. Descent followed the route taking 14 abseils from ice threads and pitons plus some down climbing. We reached our advanced basecamp at 5000m in the middle of the night in a constant snowfall.

photo
Dream Walker - fun ice gullies
© Tomasz Klimczak

photo
Rolling D(ice)
© Tomasz Klimczak

Polish Couloir

Our third aim was a mountain seen on the right from our Base Camp. It was a soaring tower difficult from all sides with airy ridges and a pointing summit – the great dream of every alpinist. Because of its character we gave it a working name – the Ogre.  Looking at it from our tents made us lose any doubts that climbing this summit would be the main goal of our expedition and the essence of alpinism which we knew. The Ogre had a promising ice couloir on the north-east face and it was also easily accessible from our BC. We made advanced base camp at 4500m at the foot of the 1.5km high face. We climbed the couloir in 3 days having two sitting bivis on snow ledges. On the third day we reached the saddle at 6004m. Obviously we planned to keep going onto the summit. It was about 3.30pm and the weather went bad. We could not see the ridge laying ahead and decided to check the forecast with the basecamp.

Polish couloir - start of steep ice climbing, 153 kb
Polish couloir - start of steep ice climbing
© Tomasz Klimczak

They warned us on the radio that the next day would be the last day of decent weather. The next day, it was announced that poor weather was to come for the next few days. We needed one full day to get to the summit and return to the saddle. That meant we would have to abseil down our couloir in heavy snowfall being exposed to avalanches. There was really no choice. We started to abseil and late at night we reached our first bivi. The following day we continued abseiling and reached the glacier in the afternoon making a total of 27 abseils from the saddle. At about 17.30 we reached our BC.

Polish Couloir - looking down from the upper section, 222 kb
Polish Couloir - looking down from the upper section
© Tomasz Klimczak

On the same night it started to snow heavily and continued for the next couple of days. We did not see the mountains but could hear a roar of avalanches every few minutes. It made us confident we made a wise choice up there at the saddle. After the weather improved we went to look for our tents on the glacier. We found them fully covered with snow, with broken poles.

The route was called “Polish Couloir” and ended at the saddle. The summit of the Ogre is still unclimbed. 

 

Polish couloir topo, 177 kb
Polish couloir topo
© Tomasz Klimczak

After this route, winter came to the Karakoram and our expedition ended. During our stay we saw many beautiful peaks awaiting first ascents. The character of the mountains resembles alpine climbing including some fun ice, mixed and DT sections. We believe Lachit Valley has great potential to host further expeditions offering unforgettable mountain adventures.

Polish Couloir, 158 kb
Polish Couloir
© Tomasz Klimczak



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