By Lindsay Griffin, from information provided by Mirza Ali, Pakistan Youth Outreach, and Christof Nettekoven
Koh-e-Brobar (6,008m GPS), south-southeast ridge.
Within a year Pakistan Youth Outreach has organized three expeditions and a training camp for youngsters in the peaks of the Shimshal region. Its purpose is to educate young people in mountaineering and the outdoors, to promote women’s adventure, and to explore the great adventure areas of Pakistan. After two successful expeditions, the third, named Gender Equality, had as its goal an unnamed, unclimbed summit in the Ghujerab Mountains.
Starting from Shimshal on June 19, the team comprised Mirza Ali (leader), his sister, 20-year-old Samina Baig, and Arshad Karim from Shimshal; Jens Franke and Christof Nettekoven from Germany; and Malgorzata Skowronska from Poland. The foreign climbers had flown to Gilgit, traveled by jeep up the KKH, traversed the 20km-long lake caused by the catastrophic 2010 landslide, and boarded another jeep for the final leg to Shimshal, along the exposed, crumbling road completed in 2003.
The party trekked three days north, following in the footsteps of the 1925 Visser expedition, to reach the 5,090m Boesam Pass. [Little information exists on previous ascents in this area, though in 2005 Abdullah Bei and Francois Carrel made presumed first ascents of the ca 5,700m peaks immediately northeast and northwest of the pass.] From here the team descended to Perchod Washq in the Sok Sok-in-Dur Valley and, to help acclimatize and to investigate all aspects of the chosen peak, continued down to the shepherds’ encampment of Mandliqshaq (Mandi Kushaq, 4,150m), close to the Ghujerab River. They returned upvalley to Perchod Washq, establishing base camp at 4,580m.
About halfway from the Boesam Pass to Mandi Kushaq, the lowest main side glacier rises east toward a col that marks the start of the south-southeast ridge of a peak they would later name Koh-e-Brobar (Mt. Equality). The summit of the peak is at approximately 36°34’08.90″ N, 75°23’56.07″ E (Google Earth coordinates).
On the 23rd members of the party made a reconnaissance to a site for high camp at 5,200m and, with two porters, established this camp on the 25th. Next morning they reached the foot of the mountain at 4 a.m. in perfect weather. Climbing to the col on the ridge, they continued north in snow conditions that deteriorated as the sun got higher. Passing a high plateau dubbed the Sun Terrace, the team reached the summit at 11 a.m. There were moderate difficulties on knee-deep and waist-deep snow slopes and a few falls into crevasses. Mirza led the last pitch, which proved to be the crux: steep, soft snow with a large cornice. He fixed the rope,and Samina jumared, followed by the other four. The view from the top was extensive, encompassing most great peaks of the range, from Batura in the west to K2 in the east. Franke’s GPS indicated an altitude of 6,008m.
They descended quickly, as the snow was getting even worse. (According to some sources it was the hottest summer in the Karakoram for 20 years.) There were more crevasse falls before they reached camp at 1:30 p.m. All then descended to base camp in time for an evening meal, and two days later returned to Shimshal.
Samina’s goal is to inspire all women, not only those of Pakistan, to become active participants in all fields of society. She hopes to encourage more women in Pakistan to take part in extreme sports and that her expeditions will encourage Pakistan youth to explore its beautiful mountains. She hopes to climb higher peaks as her technique (and support from sponsors) improves.