A new route was established last week by Russians Valery Babanov and Victor Afanasiev on the southwest face of Gasherbrum I (8068m) despite Afanasiev suffering a severe head injury from rockfall. Their alpine-style blitz took four days, from July 29 to August 1, two weeks after their ascent of Broad Peak (more details in the July 25, 2008 NewsWire).
On the night of July 30, their second night on the wall, a rock falling from above ripped through the tent and struck Afanasiev on the head. Babanov spent the remainder of the evening helping his partner control the bleeding. “We thought our climbing was over,” Olga Babanova reports her husband saying over satellite phone. “But we cannot descend the same way we came up. It was dangerous.” To retreat, the pair was forced to continue to the ridge, but upon reaching it Afanasiev “decided that he had the endurance to go to the summit.”
Other expedition members Valery Shamalo, Pavel Chochia and Elizabeth Revol summited Gasherbrum II (8035m) at the end of July, just days before encountering Babanov and Afanasiev on August 1 near the summit of G-I.
Two weeks earlier, Babanov and Afanasiev fought a blizzard up the west face buttress of Broad Peak (8047m) to establish an alpine-style route of stunning difficulty–VI WI5 M6 90 degrees, 3000m–considering the altitude. Babanov and Afanasiev have not yet released details of their new route on G-I.
The pair now have completed two of their three expedition objectives, all above 8000m, in alpine style; next week they aim to climb a new route on G-II.