2011: Ibex Horn, west face-north face. By Mike Libecki, AAC

Ibex Horn from north, with ascent route and bivouac site. (A) Ibex Ear East. (B) Ibex Ear West. Mike Libecki

(Back to: Asia, Afghanistan)

By Mike Libecki, AAC

Ibex Horn, west face-north face. In 2010 I went to the Koh-e-Baba to explore cool-looking rock towers. Though I was able to reach two summits, East and West Ibex Ears, I was denied my goal of reaching the prominent tower in the group, the Ibex Horn, and just missed being crushed by massive rockfall (AAJ 2011).

Redemption. In early July 2011 I flew to Bamyan and met the same friends as the previous year. In three days I was back at base camp, almost one year to the day after the rockfall incident. I’d tried two routes in 2010, on the north and west sides. Even when I was back home, I felt many strange emotions about how close I had been to death. My goal this time was to find the fastest and safest route to the summit, if such a way existed.

Bivouac site on Ibex Horn. Mike Libecki

In 2010 I’d climbed a couloir system to the East Ear, which is connected to the ridgeline of the Ibex Horn. From this high vantage point, I saw good systems on the west side that would make a great route. It proved to be really nice. I took a couple of ropes and a rock rack and started up the couloir.  There was fun climbing for 1,200′, steep enough that any fall would prove disastrous, but solid conditions brought me to the stone. I left my ropes and rack and went back to base camp. The following day I brought up bivouac gear to my high point, and where the ice ended, I rope-soloed two pitches and bivouacked.

Next day I set off for the summit, climbing two more pitches and traversing left and north to another couloir, which went up for 400′. I found myself on easy terrain, traversing a ridge toward the summit using a combo of conventional and continuous-loop rope-soloing. I stood on top by late afternoon, having climbed a 2,500′ route at V 5.9 A1 WI2.

I had to rope-solo the descent, eventually rappelling to my bivouac spot, where I spent another night. It was my third attempt on the summit, and as the saying goes, “third time’s a charm.” I went back to Kabul as fast as possible and bought a plane ticket to Urumqi, China, looking forward to more adventure.

© American Alpine Club


Experience the new AAJ

@ publications.americanalpineclub.org

You can now read, search, and explore every year of the AAJ and other AAC titles.

Publications Site

IMPORTANT:  We are currently migrating digital resources from the AAJ Online (aaj.americanalpineclub.org) to publications.americanalpineclub.org. The AAJ Online will remain active until Fall 2013; however, it will no longer be maintained or updated with new content. In the meantime you can continue to browse and search the AAJ Online for AAJ articles and resources from the years 2009-2012.