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Dempster, Kennedy Nab Charakusa FA

Kyle Dempster and Hayden Kennedy made the first ascent of Hassan (6300m), Charakusa Valley, Pakistan. [Photo] Kyle Dempster

Kyle Dempster and Hayden Kennedy recently made the first ascent of Pakistan’s Hassan Peak (6300m). Hassan Peak is located in Pakistan’s Charakusa Valley just north of K6. The pair climbed the peak via it’s previously attempted west face overcoming difficulties of WI5, M5 on their two day ascent.

Steve Swenson, Hans Mitterer and Raphael Slawinski attempted Hassan Peak in 2005, but retreated from dangerous conditions 300 meters below the summit. Dempster told that Hassan Peak as seen from base camp is both “beautiful and alluring” with an “afternoon light [that] illuminates the central ridgeline”.

Kelly Cordes and Hayden Kennedy arrived in Pakistan on August 17 and met Kyle Dempster in Skardu on August 18. Dempster had spent the previous seven weeks biking, exploring and climbing through China and Kyrgyzstan. The trio began the acclimating with a ridge traverse of Iqbal Wall (4800m) and Tasty Talking (III 5.10+, 300m) on pyramidal Nayser Brakk (ca. 5200m). Steve Swenson, Marko Prezelj and Steve House first established Tasty Talking in 2005. Cordes, who had originally planned on climbing Hassan with Dempster and Kennedy, elected to stay in base camp; still recovering from the six surgeries he underwent in the past thirteen months, his body was unable to acclimate as well as he had hoped. Cordes told Alpinist that the peak is possibly spelled Hassin by Hushe locals; though the translation is hard due to the different alphabets.

Dempster biking through Kyrgyzstan. [Photo] Kyle Dempster

Dempster and Kenendy on the summit. [Photo] Kyle Dempster

Dempster and Kennedy hauled their gear up toward the base of Hassan on the east side of the upper Charakusa glacier. The two experienced good weather on their first two climbs before having to wait out bad weather in base camp for a few days. Dempster was already well acclimated from soloing peaks in Kyrgyzstan. While Dempster rested in base camp, Kennedy needed to adjust to the altitude more so he climbed Sulu Peak (5950m) with a Slovenian team.

Kennedy leading above Dempster. [Photo] Kyle Dempster

Dempster and Kennedy got a late start on their ascent after being soaked while retrieving their gear. The pair climbed easy snow and ice above the bergschrund to reach a corner of brittle WI4. The climbing remained difficult for the next 700 meters, but the surrounding rock yielded good protection and mixed climbing. Described by Kennedy as a “beast who just keeps going,” Dempster broke trail through snow deposited during the night. They climbed ice through a short, wild storm and found a good bivy 200 meters below the summit. The third day began with a daunting overhung serac that the climbers skirted around, climbing a pitch of steep serac ice that Kennedy described as “the wildest pitch of ice I had ever led in the mountains.”

(Full Disclosure: Hayden Kennedy is the son of Michael Kennedy, Alpinist’s Editor-in-Chief.)

Sources: Kyle Dempster, Black Diamond,