2011: Great Trango Tower, southwest summit (6,237m), northwest face, Parallelniy Mir. By Lindsay Griffin

Marina Kopteva and Camp 4 on central pillar. Chibitok-Kopteva-Yasinskaya collection, supplied by Elena Laletina

Marina Kopteva high on Great Trango after bad weather. Chibitok-Kopteva-Yasinskaya collection, supplied by Elena Laletina

Camp 5, at top of pitch 25, on lower section of central pillar. Two climbers can be seen working on pitch 27. Chibitok-Kopteva-Yasinskaya collection, supplied by Elena Laletina

Looking down pitch 30 to Camp 6, halfway up central pillar. Chibitok-Kopteva-Yasinskaya collection, supplied by Elena Laletina

(Back to: Pakistan, Karakoram, Baltoro Muztagh)

By Lindsay Griffin, from information supplied by Elena Laletina, russianclimb.com and Anna Piunova, mountain.ru

Great Trango Tower, southwest summit (6,237m), northwest face, Parallelniy Mir.

A new route on the huge northwest face of Great Trango, climbed by Galina Chibitok from Russia and Marina Kopteva and Anna Yasinskaya from the Ukraine, was awarded the 2011 Russian Piolet d’Or, the first time such an accolade has been bestowed on an all-female team. Parallelniy Mir (Parallel World) parallels the 2007 Krasnoyarsk Route (which completed the almost-finished 2003 line by a team from Odessa; see AAJ 2008), climbing the steep right flank of the prominent rounded pillar on the left side of the face.

After three days fixing ropes on the initial lower-angle section of face, the three women (a fourth female member was ill and remained in base camp) embarked on a capsule ascent, spending 32 days on the wall, before reaching the southwest summit. They climbed 49 pitches, made nine portaledge camps, and placed 75 bolts (hand-drilled 8mm) and 343 pitons but left only rappel anchors and bolts on the wall; they removed many bolt hangers. They free-climbed up to F6a, largely in the lower section, the main difficulties being hard aid to modern A3. Overall they graded the route (Russian) 6B and US VI/VII. With a height of ca 2,000m and a climbing distance of 2,580m, it’s difficult to think of any other all-female new route on a huge rock wall in the Greater Ranges that comes close to matching this ascent.

It appears that pitches 11-16 more or less coincide with the 1999 line Lost Butterfly, and on the final wall (from pitch 40 on) Parellelniy Mir and the Krasnoyarsk Route are identical. The three women rotated work loads daily; two climbed, while the third either rested or hauled loads. The first ca 20 pitches, leading to the base of the pillar, were largely free at F5b-6a, with many short sections of A1 and A2. The next ca 18 were largely aid, at A2 and A3 (sections of eight or more skyhook moves between bolts). To this point the weather had been generally good, but it deteriorated to almost winter conditions. The next few pitches along the shoulder to the headwall should have been  straightforward, but at 6,000m and in severe weather were not. On the headwall cracks were filled with ice and gave complex aid and mixed climbing, though easier than on the pillar below. They reached the top in a blizzard at 9 pm on August 25th, having almost exhausted supplies. During the three-day descent, they ate more or less nothing. However, without the bad weather during the upper section of the climb, they would also have run out of water. Kopteva estimates that in perfect conditions the majority of pitches might be possible to free up to 7b.

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