Aleksandra Voglar, Tina Di Batista and Tanja Grmovsek on Trango Tower’s Shoulder during the first all-female ascent of Eternal Flame (VI 5.12c A0, thirty-five pitches, Albert-Gullich-Stiegler-Sykora, 1989), with Biale Peak (6729m) prominent in the background. Despite poor weather, the route, the formation and the area saw significant activity in September and Octover, particularly from a Slovenian expedition, which contributed the first ascent of Uli Byapjun (ca. 4800m) via Warming Up Ridge (V 6b, 450m, Grmovsek-Karo); the first ascent of Uli Biaho Great Spire (5594m) via Three Hundred Eggs (V 5.11a, 600m, Grmovsek-Karo); an ascent by Di Batista, Voglar, Silvo Karo, and husband-and-wife Tanja and Andrej Frmovsek, of the Selters-Wollum route on Great Trango Tower (6286m); a one-day ascent of Eternal Flame (executed at VI 5.12b A2 M5) by Karo and Andrej Grmovsek; the first free ascent of Karakoram Khush (5.10d A0, Jakofcic-Mali-Vali, 2004) on Garda Peak (ca. 4700m) by Di Batista, Voglar and Tanja Grmovsek; a free ascent of the Slovenian Route (VI 5.11 A0, 900m, Cankar-Knez-Srot, 1987 [FFA: VI 5.12, Albert-Gullich-Munchenbach, 1988]) by Matjaz Jeran and brothers Nejc and Ales Cesen (sons of Tomo Cesen); and the second ascent of Trango Monk (5850m) via Chota Badla (VII A2, 450m) by Jeran, Cesen and Cesen. [Photo] Tanja Grmovsek
Trango Tower, First All-Female Ascent. The female contingent of the Slovenian Trango expedition added spice to the mostly male base-camp society. Tina Di Batista, Aleksandra Voglar and I came to Pakistan with a lot of ideas about what we’d like to climb, but our objectives changed as fast as the weather. We abandoned our first one, the Slovak attempt Mystical Denmo (5.11a/b A2, 1400m) on Hainabrakk East Tower (5799m), after rockfall bombarded the approach. We gave up our second one, Inshallah (VII 5.12) on Shipton Spire (5900m), once we heard that part of the route had fallen down.
Our next objective was a repeat ascent of the Slovenian Route (VI 5.11 A0, 900m, Cankar-Knez-Srot, 1987 [FFA: VI 5.12, Albert-Gullich-Munchenbach, 1988]) on Trango Tower (6239m), but we made way for Andrej and Silvo, who wanted to climb the route free.
We settled at last on repeating Trango Tower’s Eternal Flame (VI 5.12c A0, thirty-five pitches, Albert-Gullich-Stiegler-Sykora, 1989) in alpine style. To acclimatize we hiked up and down Trango gully two times, then climbed Great Trango (6286m) by the Selters-Woolum route and reached the summit on August 23. Three days later we climbed Karakoram Khush (5.10d A0, Jakofcic-Mali-Vali, 2004) on Garda Peak (ca. 4700m), where we did a variation to the first pitch (5.10c/d, 50m) that allowed us to make the first free ascent. On August 29 we also repeated a pleasurable route on the Base Camp Slabs, Oceano Trango (5.10c/d, 300m) and prolonged it for two pitches (5.8, 55m; 5.10, 60m) to Pinocchio Tower.
The weather worsened, until we had just six more days before our departure. Finally, the skies improved, and we decided to try Eternal Flame–now covered with new-fallen snow–in a push, alpine style. Our goal was to climb as fast as possible, as light as possible, to make it to the summit, and more important, to return safe and happy. With just two sleeping bags, a stove and some bars, one ice axe and one pair of crampons, we climbed in blocks, and the second and third climbers jumared with heavy packs.
Most of the lower part we free climbed, while the rest of the route we aided in the cold. Over these three days Trango Tower became the “Slovenian Tower”: there were four Slovenian parties on the spire, including us, and all four were successful. The weather wasn’t so nice the first day, but we managed to reach the Sunny Terrace. On the second day we climbed to the promised big ledge (after Pitch 23), where we found ourselves shivering and squeezing into a place for one person.
By the third day, we were tired and cold, and our fingers and toes were frostbitten, but each of us kept silent and did her job. We reached the top at 9 p.m. September 9, shouting out all that remained in us: Inshallah! We’d made the first all-female ascent of Trango Tower, alpine style–a beautiful line, on a beautiful mountain, in beautiful surroundings, with three beautiful, now smiling and crying, girls.
–Tanja Grmovsek, Maribor, Slovenia