Scarpa North America Blog

Expedition Pakistan: First Ascents in Far Flung Places

Sep. 14th 2015

During the summer of 2015 SCARPA athletes Graham Zimmerman and Scott Bennett spent two months in the Pakistani Karakoram in search of new routes in one of the world’s truly stunning ranges with one of the Karakoram’s most seasoned climbers, Steve Swenson of the American Alpine Club. The amount of planning and training that goes into an expedition in this corner of the world is massive, then everything has to line up just perfectly for the actual send. During this trip, Graham and Scott achieved two impressive first ascents including the Changi Tower (6500m) and a new route up the south face of K6 (8126m). We asked Graham to put together a short photo recap of the incredible trip.

Alpine Climbing Pakistan

First glimpse of the peaks.

This summer I had the pleasure of spending 2 months in the Pakistani Karakoram with my good pals Steve Swenson and Scott Bennett. Over the next couple of days I am going to share a few photos from the trip.

This is a photos taken from the airplane flying from Islamabad to Skardu. The mountain on the left side of the frame is the beautiful Nanga Parbat (8126m). This was our first view of the big mountains on the trip and had us incredibly excited.

It should be noted that while these peaks are in Pakistan they are not part of the Karakoram, rather this is the northwestern tip of the Himalayas.

Alpine Climbing Pakistan

Shuttling gear up high.

Expeditions to the greater ranges take a lot of work and involve a lot of moving over ground, often times over and over again. Steve Swenson, a guru of expeditions to the Karakoram, refers to them as “mostly exercises in moving stuff around.”

Here my partner and fellow Scarpa athlete Scott Bennett charges uphill while we start exploring the upper reaches of Nangmah Valley deep in the Pakistani Karakoram. Our goal was to access and climb the North Ridge of unclimbed Changi Tower (6500m) and the South Face of K6. I am super pumped that we were very successful in moving stuff around on this trip including moving ourselves to the tops of these peaks via some stunning routes.

Alpine Climbing Pakistan

Night moves at base camp.

We were super fortunate on this expedition to have some amazing bouldering in basecamp. This made for very productive down time while either waiting out storms or resting during acclimatization. It allowed us to stay fit for projects back home while on the trip.

On this particular evening Scott and I decided to work on some nighttime photography and had a great time taking long exposure photos with some light brushing to create images such as this one.

Alpine Climbing Pakistan

The south face of K6.

In this image two of our porters sit on a rock in front of the K6 massif as it was pounded by a storm.

This massive South face was our main objective on the trip. It was not until the very end of the trip that we finally had a chance to climb upon it. We were acclimatized from making the first ascent of Changi Tower a week before, had a short window and had picked out a stunning line. All we had to do was dial in the kit one more time and start heading uphill.

Alpine Climbing Pakistan

The South Face crux.

This photo of Scott is from around halfway up the SW Ridge (M6, 90 degrees, 1800m) of K6 West (7040m) during it’s first ascent. Behind him is the crux of the route a short yet stout section of overhanging M6. We made the First ascent of this route over the course of 3 days at the end of our trip. This was our second FA on the trip the first being Changi Tower via its North Ridge (M6, 5.10 A2 600m).

It capped off a hell of a first trip to the Karakoram for Scott and I and another feather in the already well decorated hat of Mr Swenson.

On these climbs we used the SCARPA Phantom 6000 boots and they slayed, keeping us warm while allowing us to climb fast and well.

Huge thanks to all of those who supported us including the American Alpine Club, the New Zealand Alpine Club, The Mugs Stump Award and the Mount Everest Foundation.

Learn more about Graham and Scott’s impressive expedition here.

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