Extreme climbers, sport climbers, ice specialists, all-around
mountaineers: the “UP Project” team–a young group that wants to have
fun and to test themselves on mountaineering trips outside of
Europe–covers all the ideal terrains of mountaineering’s “new age.” The
first UP Project trip, conceived by me and Agostino Da Polenza, took us
to the eastern Karakoram. Last year, Italians Herve Barmasse,
Giovanni Pagnoncelli, Nancy Paoletto, Maurizio Giordani, Ezio Marlier
and I opened four new routes in the Chogolisa Glacier area (see Alpinist
Issue 9, Page 93). This year, as with last year’s trip, two weeks before
our departure, the Pakistani government denied us permission to go into
the Kondus and Saltoro Valleys, so we changed the program and went back
to the Chogolisa Glacier.
On June 18 Barmasse, Marlier and Fabio Salini climbed a new 700-meter
mixed line, Fast and Furious, on the north face of the unclimbed Peak
5500 in a day. The route featured rock up to 5.7 and a little section of
A1 (freed by the second at M6). The trio reached the summit ridge but
didn’t climb the highest point (a little summit spire ten meters up the
ridge) because of bad weather.
On June 22, on the left side of Chogolisa Shield (aka Raven Peak, ca.
5300m), Marlier and Salini opened an eight-pitch new route, Green Tea
(5.10c and a little section of A1, one bolt) in a day.
From June 16 to June 26, Cristian Brenna, Barmasse, Francesca Chenal and
I opened Up + Down, a big line on the steepest part of the Chogolisa
Shield. The team fixed ropes on the difficult initial 250 meters and
placed some bolts on the first pillar with the idea of free climbing the
entire route on the next attempt. In six days of climbing, we managed
sixteen pitches up to 5.11 and A1 and finished the route on the summit
ridge. On July 10 Brenna, belayed by Giovanni Ongaro, freed the route in
a day, with difficulties up to 5.12d in the sixth pitch and with many
pitches from 5.11 to 5.12. I think it is one of the best and most
difficult free ascents in the Karakoram.
From June 24 to 26, Ongaro and Gianluca Bellin climbed the Capucin (ca.
5500m) on Sheep Peak, to the right of Chogolisa Shield. The men spent
two nights on the wall, climbing capsule style with portaledges, to
establish Duri e Puri, a little (400-meter) but difficult big wall of
twelve pitches with difficulties up to 5.10 A2. They finished on the
right ridge of this beautiful spire.
On June 28 Barmasse and Pagnoncelli climbed, alpine style, the 800-meter
northwest face of an unnamed and virgin ca. 6000-meter peak on the long
Farol Peak ridge. Their route featured ice (60 degrees) and a little mixed
climbing; only Barmasse reached the highest point of the mountain.
In the last week of the trip, Barmasse, Brenna and I moved to the
Charakusa Glacier. After bad rock stopped an attempt on a new route on
Iqbal’s Wall (climbed in 1998 by me and Villa with the American Galen
Rowell) in the final 100 meters, two days later, July 21, our trio
repeated the first four pitches of Tasty Talking (5.10+,
House-Prezelj-Swenson, 2004), then rappelled into the gully and repeated
the classic English Route on the beautiful Naysar Brakk (5200m).
Luca “Rampikino” Maspes, Italy