UKC

16 pitches. UIAA IV+. That range from scrambling to about HS+. All at an altitude of over 5,000 metres. 6/7hrs summit time, 3hrs abseiling.

Start From Shipton's Camp, 4320m.
Follow the normal trail towards Point Lenana, at the first flat above camp take the cairned R fork towards Batian. Follow cairns up the drainage staying just left of the giant lobelias in the talus. Climb talus to join with the route from the old Kami Hut. Keep next to rock wall on right up to almost level with the base of the Krapf Glacier, the start of the route is marked with a cross in a circle with blue paint.

Pitch 1 Climb up from the cross in circle on good rock, at 17m a move right leads to a ledge. Continue right on a ledge for 2m and belay off horn. 20m VD.
Pitch 2 Climb cracks up and right of the belay for 3 meters, then continue up ledges and short easy steps for 20m, keeping initially to the left. Near the end of the pitch traverse right easily into main gully and belay at abseil anchor. 25m, D+ Pitches 1 and 2 can be combined.

Shorten rope and move together for 60m up gully, ignoring branch on L.

Pitch 3 Start is marked by a cairn on right side of gully, piton at chest height. Climb easily up and left piton, and back to the center of the main gully. Belay at a abseil anchor with 2 pitons. 35m, D.
Pitch 4 Start up easy broken terrain up and left passing to the right a giant block with old ropes. Enter a corner above and climb to its top, Belay at abseil anchor above. 43m VD+.
Pitch 5 Climb left side of easy slab above, belay at 2 pitons below steepening wall. 35m D.
Pitch 6 Climb up and right on steep blocks, then a corner to a large terrace with a abseil anchor on block. Do not belay here, but instead continue up and left on large ledges to the base of a short chimney/gully on the Left. Belay off a horn in the shaded gully. 35m, D.
Pitch 7 Climb up and a bit left in chimney, then traverse horizontally right on easy rock under a steep orange wall for 4m. Follow cracks straight up for 15m (piton). Belay at a large block, rappel anchor. 30m, S+.

Shorten the rope and move together up steep blocky terrain for 30m. Cross the small ridge to the left at the cairn to enter the lower right edge of the amphitheatre. Climb for about 60m up the right edge of the amphitheatre to the highest point and the best bivy ledges just under a low angled slab.

If conditions on the upper mountain are good (dry), change into your rock shoes, leaving your boots here for the descent. If conditions above look snowy consider carrying your boots with you.

Continue moving together up and left on dirty ledges to the the top of giant tilted blocks near lower end of old fixed rope, climb on top of blocks to belay.60m, D.
Pitch 8 Climb up and left on easy terrain, staying left of old fixed rope to gain a large ledge above. Traverse right on ledge for 15m to belay at poised blocks abseil anchor. 52m, S+.
Pitch 9 Climb the short wall above to gain the good ledge at the base of Firmin's Tower. Either climb up and right to steep cracks (HS), which lead directly to the base of the chimney pitches of the next pitch, or move up and left on big blocky steps (awkward HS+), then move back right easily to the Firmin's chimney pitches. belay off 2 pitons at base of chimney. This is a good, sunny ledge with a small bivy. 24m, HS.

Firmin's Tower.

Pitch 10 starts up a wide crack and follows it for 20m to a small belay stance. There is lots of old fixed rope on this pitch. 20m, MVS (one move in upper section).
Pitch 11 Enter the right hand of two chimneys and climb this for 10m. At its top move left for 2m to enter another wide crack. Climb this for 10m to a belay on large ledges. 20m HS+.
Pitch 12 Climb up and left and around corner, then more straight up steepening rock to the top of Firmin's tower. 45m S-.
Pitch 13 Down climb into the notch behind the tower. 10m, D.

Shorten the rope and move together up the crest of the ridge on broken rock, the ridge finishes at a steep wall above. Belay at the base of the steep wall off of a horn. 60m.

Pitch 14 Climb steeply up and right on blocks and cracks, this pitch can be snowy or icy If so it can easily be the most difficult pitch on the route. Pass piton and belay at slings on abseil horn. 30m, HS+.
Pitch 15 Traverse right horizontally for 5m on a large ledge, round the corner and climb broken dirty rock of a small amphitheatre. Belay in fractured rock near the top of the amphitheatre. 50m, D.
Pitch 16 Move up right for 5m, then back left on a ledge to the ridge crest. 10m, D.

From the crest, shorten the rope and move together for 25 meters to good bivy ledges. Consider leaving one rope here as you will not likely need it above.

From the bivies you have 2 options;
Option 1 Follow the crest of the ridge, in short pitches or moving together, weaving the rope among horns for protection. Good, class 3 climbing along the spiney crest leads to the tower overlooking Shipton's Notch. Rappel 20 meters into the Notch. This option gives better quality climbing (along the fine crest) but is a bit slower than Option 2 below.

Option 2 Traverse L from the L edge of the bivy platforms on class 2 ledges for about 60 meters, some cairns. A short 4-meter 5.7 exposed traverse to the L leads into Shipton's Notch. This option is quicker, but not as good climbing. On descent take Option 2.

From Shipton's Notch climb steeply up on crest for 15m, VD+, to abseil webbing above. Do NOT traverse from the Notch on west side of ridge as many guidebooks will tell you the crest is better. Follow the ridge crest, weaving in and out of rock towers for about 40m. When within about 40 meters of the summit a 10m traverse right leads to steep blocks and dirt which are climbed up back to the crest. Another 15m of blocks to the right of the crest leads to easy ground and the summit 10m away.

DESCENT - Reverse the route, down climbing to abseil webbing directly above Shipton's Notch.
abseil 25m straight down to small, dirty amphitheatre on E side, some 8m below the level of the Notch. Climb up and right for 4m to a better ledge. Continue up cracks to right for 10m to reach the L edge of the ledges which lead back to the bivouac sites.
Follow the ledges back to the bivies. (Remember to pick up your other rope if you left it!) Down climb a few meters to top of pitch 16.
Abseil pitches 16 and 15 in one long rappel.
Abseil pitch 14, 45m , passing to R (facing in) of belay at the bottom of pitch 14, continuing down steep blank rock to a good ledge on the west side of the ridge. 45m.

Shorten the rope and move together back to the crest on 8m of narrow ledge. Down climb the crest back to the notch before Firmin's Tower. Do not climb to the top of the Tower, but instead scramble down the gully to the east for 10m to a sandy ledge. Pitch up and right (facing in) around corner (VD+ move) for about 12m to reach a abseil station which was bypassed on the way up.

Abseil pitch 12 in 40m.
Abseil pitch 11 Using one rope 20m.
Abseil pitch 10 in 20m to the base of Firmin's Tower.
Abseil pitch 9 24m (one rope again).
Abseil pitch 8 Rappel 35m off giant loose and poised blocks at bottom of pitch 9. Watch that you thread the ropes so they pull low on these precarious looking blocks, and think "light". Abseil to a ledge with a large block wrapped in old fixed rope.
Abseil 50m down dirty slabs almost to the level with the amphitheatre upper bivies (and your boots if you left them there). This section can also be down climbed. Scramble down to top of pitch 7.
Abseil 40m to a rappel anchor on the outer edge of the large terraces. This anchor was bypassed on the way up (at least if you followed the description above).
Abseil 45m to the top of pitch 4 (base of the easy slab). This abseil can be hard to pull, so consider sacrificing a carabiner.
Abseil 47m down pitch 4 (big corner).
Abseil 35m down pitch 3. Shorten the rope (put one away) and scramble down to top of pitch 2.
Abseil 23m straight down the gully to a small anchor on a rocky ledge. This is not the top of pitch 1, but is instead it is in the middle of the gully.
Abseil 23m down water-worn rocks in the middle of the gully to the scree below.
These last 2 rappels can be done as one, but there is a risk of pulling rocks down with the ropes or sticking a rope.

AH Firmin, P Hicks 31/Jul/1944.

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