Friday, September 9, 2011

Sasser Kangri II Day 4 - The Summit

August 24.  We only had four pitches of technical climbing from our third bivouac to get to the summit ridge, and from there we knew that it would be easy snow walking to the summit.

Just below the summit ridge

It was a beautiful summit day - windless and relatively warm temperatures for being at almost 25,000 feet.

On the easy summit ridge

Last bit below the top

Mark, Freddie and I could see the entire Karakoram range - not a cloud in the sky!

Mark Richey, me, and Freddie Wilkinson

A Japanese expedition had attempted Sasser Kangri II in 1985 and claimed to have reached what they called the "West Summit".  But when we reached the top of the true summit we could look to the north along the ridge from that side and see that the "West Summit" was clearly below us and is not really a summit at all.   The place the Japanese expedition reached was just a point on the shoulder of the mountain and not a separate lower summit of the peak.  Because many climbers thought Sasser Kangri II had been climbed, the mountain probably did not receive the attention it might have gotten if no one had claimed the summit.  This misinformation worked in our favor though because it was only after carefully researching this issue before our attempt in 2009 that Mark and I came to the conclusion the Japanese "West Summit" was probably not the top and the peak was still unclimbed.  When we arrived on top we could clearly see that our theory was correct and that we just made the first ascent.

The "West Summit" to the north is clearly below us

In the distance are the Gasherbrums, Broad Peak, and K2 across the border in Pakistan

After spending maybe an hour on top we headed down.  After some down climbing to the summit ridge we made several rappels to our high camp where we spend a second night.

Beginning the descent

Our plan was to rappel the wall all the way to the glacier tomorrow.  It would be over 30 rappels which would take all day.  That evening the sinus infection that I had been fighting for a month seemed to move down into my chest and I had a very difficult night sitting up in the tent dozing and coughing up phlegm into the snow outside the door.  I felt like tomorrow might be a long exhausting day to get myself down.

Making several rappels back to our last bivouac

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