By Hayden Kennedy, AAC
Charakusa Valley, Hassin (Hassan) Peak (ca 6,300m).
The Charakusa Valley is an alpine-climbing candy store, offering steep rock routes and technical mixed faces on some of the most beautiful peaks in Pakistan. Kelly Cordes, Kyle Dempster, and I trekked into the Charakusa in mid-August. After acclimatizing on Nasyer Brakk (5,700m) and Sulu Peak (6,000m), Kyle and I ventured toward unclimbed Hassin Peak. (Kelly was unwell.) During gear caching trips on the glacier, we scoped a nice-looking line that climbed a rock buttress on the right-hand skyline and then trended to the center of the face, where mixed steps led toward the summit.
After a few days of bad weather, Kyle and I decided it was time to give Hassin Peak a gentlemen’s effort. After arriving at our gear cache on the glacier, soaked after hiking in rain, we dried out and started the climb. We soloed easy snow and ice to the start of the rock buttress, where we roped. Kyle led steep WI4 for a few pitches, until we reached a small ledge on the buttress. From the ledge we simul-climbed easy mixed terrain to the base of a steep crack system. I then led a few pitches of M5 on good rock, with good gear options. The buttress soon became steeper, and we traversed right to find easier ice/mixed climbing that led back toward the center of the face at a large snowfield. We chopped a nice ledge on which to sleep, and hunkered down for the night.
In the morning we soloed steep snow until we reached mixed steps in the middle of the face. Kyle led interesting ice pitches through a three-hour storm that came out of nowhere. The weather cleared, and we had amazing views of the east face of K7 and the colossal massif of Masherbrum. In the evening light we chopped a less than ideal ledge and spent a cold, uncomfortable night just below the summit. For breakfast we had steep, unconsolidated snow, much better than coffee and eggs! Conditions were rather dangerous, and we triggered a few small slides. On cresting the steep snow, we found a huge overhanging serac blocking the summit. After some discussion we ventured around the right side of the serac. I led a very steep, wild WI6 pitch to the summit snow slopes.
On top we were greeted by the Norwegian Bikini team and Mojitos. After drinks and conversation, Kyle and I rappelled all the way to the glacier in one long push. Nothing but good times!
Editor’s note: Hassin Peak stands on the east rim of the Charakusa Glacier, north of K6. The west buttress was attempted in 2005 by Hans Mitterer (Germany), Raphael Slawinski (Canada), and Steve Swenson. They made one bivouac but retreated from 6,000m, when the summit snow slopes became too dangerous. This team spelled it Hassin, saying it was the local term for “beautiful peak” (AAJ 2006).