Sandy Allan and Rick Allen complete Mazeno Ridge

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 19/07/2012
The Mazeno Ridge of Nanga Parbat. The giant Rupal Face is on the right. Doug Scott.
View 1 of 2

In what will undoubtedly be one of the mountaineering highlights of 2012, Sandy Allan and Rick Allen reached the summit of Nanga Parbat at around 6pm on the 15th July, having made the much-coveted first complete ascent of the Mazeno Ridge.

The complete west-southwest or Mazeno Ridge is a monstrous undertaking: over eight summits to the junction with the 1976 Schell Route, then via the upper section of this to Nanga Parbat’s summit.

The Mazeno is the longest arête on any 8,000m peak; a staggering 13km from the Mazeno Pass at 5,377m to where it joins the south-southwest ridge or Schell Route, then another two kilometres up this (via slopes on the Diamir Flank) to the summit.

It is a totally committing venture, as escape on either flank seems impossible until reaching the Mazeno Col, where the Schell Route comes up from the Rupal flank.

The concept of traversing this immense crest was probably first conceived by Frenchman, Louis Audoubert, famous for his long, multi-day, Alpine ridge traverses in the 1970s. Audoubert and partners reached the first summit on the ridge in 1979 (First Mazeno Peak, 6,800m) but an Alpine-style continuation along the crest looked too daunting.

It subsequently became Doug Scott’s passion and with various partners he made three expeditions to the ridge (including Sandy Allan in 1992). On the last, in 1995, the strong partnership of Rick Allen, Voytek Kurtyka and Andrew Lock, on their fifth attempt (Scott had to retire due to illness), reached the third Mazeno top at around 7,000m, a little over half-way along the crest.

This proved to be the furthest point reached until 2004 when, fresh and well acclimatized from climbing in the Charakusa Valley, Doug Chabot and Steve Swenson found excellent conditions and made an alpine-style traverse of all eight summits - Mazeno Peak, the sixth and highest, is 7,120m - to reach the  Mazeno Col (ca 6,940m).

The crux had been the last section of ridge from final peak to col, the pair having to cross many pinnacles, generally descending by rappel.

At this stage ominous clouds began to cover the sky and Swenson was unwell with a chest infection, so the two decided to descend the Schell Route, which had probably not been climbed for 25 years.

They left gear at the col, hoping to return and complete the ascent to the summit, but the descent proved harrowing (The Schell route is notoriously loose and objectively dangerous in the lower section) and once down the two had no desire to return. Even so, it was a magnificent achievement, carried out in exemplary style.

This summer, after establishing base camp in mid June on the Rupal side of the mountain at 4,900m and going through the usual acclimatization process, Allan and Allen, with South African Cathy O'Dowd and Sherpas Lhakpa Nuru, Lhakpa Rangduk and Lhakpa Zarok set off up the ridge on the 2nd July.

Conditions were not perfect, with deep snow and misty weather slowing progress. The team carried eight days food, which they felt might be stretched to 10.

After an arduous crossing of the pinnacles, the climbers finally descended to the Mazeno Col at 6,940m. From this point they continued up the ridge towards the summit before making their last camp at ca 7,200m. All six then made a summit attempt on the 12th, despite a forecast of strong winds.

Leaving camp at 1am with Lhakpa Nuru in the lead, the team got off route in the dark and spent some time overcoming tricky loose rock to get back on track.

At around 7am O'Dowd, tired and cold, decided to abandon her attempt, and returned to camp with Lhakpa Nuru. The others continued, but eventually ran out of time just below the summit pyramid at 7,950m. They made it back to camp after an 18 hour day.

The plan had been to go over the summit and descend via the Normal (Kinshofer) Route on the Diamir Face, known ground for Allan and Allen, who had summited via this route in 2009.

Despite being on the mountain for nearly 12 days, these two decided to give it one more shot, while O'Dowd and the three Sherpas began a successful descent of the Diamir Face (exact line currently unknown).

It appears Allan and Allen then must have rested the next two days before making their summit climb on the 15th and descending to the site of the top camp on the Kinshofer Route.

They are reported to have reached base camp below the Diamir Face at around midday on the 19th, after a remarkable exhibition of endurance and tenacity.



« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 35881 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Galvan and Zerain disappear while attempting second crossing of Mazeno Ridge.
1
Galvan and Zerain disappear while attempting second crossing of Mazeno Ridge.

Hope of finding the noted partnership of Argentinian Mariano Galvan, and the Spanish-Basque Alberto Zerain, who were attempting an alpine-style ascent of Nanga Parbat's Mazeno Ridge, has now faded after an aerial search on the morning of the 1st July.
Read more »

Where are they going? The BMC Expedition Grants
0
Where are they going? The BMC Expedition Grants

The following teams received grant aid from the BMC for expeditions taking place during 2017. Most are still to leave the UK; some are currently in the field, and some have recently returned, though the results of their endeavours are presently unknown. In general, only the designated expedition organiser is named.
Read more »

British-based climber completes two new routes in Baffin Island
0
British-based climber completes two new routes in Baffin Island

Scottish resident and big wall climber, Marek Raganowicz, has added two demanding aid routes to the overhanging Ship's Prow in Baffin Island.
Read more »

Post a Comment
Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
20
1) Anonymous User
19/07/2012
An awesome feat of mountaineering, stamina and endurance. Well done guys
2) Anonymous User
19/07/2012
Stirring stuff. Congratulations.
3) Anonymous User
20/07/2012
An incredible feat of mountaineering, you are both legends!
4) Anonymous User
20/07/2012
Fantastic, congratulations Sandy and Rick. Don't believe they merely rested for two days (can you rest at that altitude?), maybe they were listening to Bob Dylan and sheltered from a storm!
5) Anonymous User
22/07/2012
Very impressive achievement. I look forward to reading their own account.
6) Anonymous User
22/07/2012
Stunning stuff - well done Sandy, Rick. Wes
7) Anonymous User
23/07/2012
Congratulations Rick and Sandy! Amazing achievement from two amazing guys! Well done!
8) Anonymous User
24/07/2012
Awesome, inspirational. Well done xx
9) Anonymous User
30/07/2012
Immense and brilliant achievement. The quiet and unsponsered side of climbing that we see less of today is the essence of what its all about. This should be celebrated as a major success in British Mountaineering. (Olympic?) Gold stars all round!
10) Anonymous User
03/08/2012
bravo from Slovenia
11) Anonymous User
06/08/2012
This is what climbing is all about: the quiet achievement of a difficult goal, using determination and persistence. Well done.
12) Anonymous User
07/08/2012
Impressive indeed!!! I once spent 7 nights between Camps 3 and 4 on the Kinshoffer Route in 2007, so know well that there is no rest to be had at that altitude. The Mazeno Ridge has all the stuff mountaineering dreams are made of, I still remember looking down on it from Nanga Parbat seeing the peaks pop up above a sea of clouds... this has to be one of the all time most impressive mountaineering achievements, hats off to you guys! Mike
13) Anonymous User
14/08/2012
Any chance of more photos? This sounds like an epic journey!
14) Anonymous User
15/08/2012
Nice one Rick Still fit them...Mark Prestt
15) Anonymous User
15/08/2012
That's a mind boggling undertaking from the whole team of six, but for the two guys to "rest" for two days - two days after the grub had effectively gone is unbelievable. Fantastic achievement. That'll be a couple more golds then! ;-)
16) Anonymous User
15/08/2012
Sandy and Rick - Brilliant! What a long way from the Haughs of Cromdale! Dave Stewart
17) Anonymous User
21/08/2012
Well done
Rick &
Sandy,an incredible mountaineering achievement. Julian
Ridal
18) Anonymous User
11/09/2012
Congratulations on an awesome achievement in the magnificent style - mountaineering integrity and excellence at its most impressive.
19) Anonymous User
20/11/2012
Does anyone know how I can contact Rick and/or Allan for a speaking event??
Thanks
Simon
20) Anonymous User
17/08/2013
great to see how much can be done at the age of 56 and 58 gives me hope at 54.

RELATED ARTICLES

Galvan and Zerain disappear while attempting second crossing of Mazeno Ridge.
1

Hope of finding the noted partnership of Argentinian Mariano Galvan, and the Spanish-Basque Alberto Zerain, who were attempting an alpine-style ascent of Nanga Parbat's Mazeno Ridge, has now faded after an aerial search on the morning of the 1st July.
Read more »

Where are they going? The BMC Expedition Grants
0

The following teams received grant aid from the BMC for expeditions taking place during 2017. Most are still to leave the UK; some are currently in the field, and some have recently returned, though the results of their endeavours are presently unknown. In general, only the designated expedition organiser is named.
Read more »

British-based climber completes two new routes in Baffin Island
0

Scottish resident and big wall climber, Marek Raganowicz, has added two demanding aid routes to the overhanging Ship's Prow in Baffin Island.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £15.72.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »