Slovenians climb K7 West

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 03/10/2011
Marcic and Strazar with K7 West. Archive Charakusa 2011

On their first trip to the Greater Ranges 26 years old Nejc Marcic and Luka Strazar (22) made the first ascent of the North West Face of K7 West (6,615m) in the Pakistan Karakoram.

Their original goal had been an alpine-style ascent of K7 (6,934m), possibly by a new line.

However, the pair was immediately captivated by the outlying western peak, which had been climbed only twice previously. In 2007 Vince Anderson, Steve House and Marko Prezelj followed a difficult 2,000m line on the South East Face (5.11a and WI5), which was repeated the following year by three young Slovenians.

Marcic and Strazar's line was also no pushover. The pair took three days to climb the 1,600m face in pure alpine style with difficulties rated VI/5, M5 and A2.

The Slovenians followed a prominent rocky spur leading directly to the summit slopes. In the lower section they climbed mainly ice on the left flank, while the upper rocky crest featured more mixed terrain.

The second day was the hardest - difficult mixed ground on the crest, where they managed only 250m before stopping for their second bivouac.

On their third day they reached the summit and descended to their first bivouac.

The perfect spell of weather then came to an end, but on day four the two were able to descend safely though stormy weather to base camp.

Prezelj was impressed with their ascent, saying "I'm really glad about the success of this young generation, since it shows that classical alpinism still has a place in the future".

The two have named their route Dreamers of the Golden Caves, as being young, they have little money and are always dreaming of discovering a way to finance themselves.

Depending on your ethical standpoint, K7 West has seen a number of attempts and "new routes", though only three parties have reached the summit.

The peak was almost climbed in 1980 by a three-man British party, which climbed the left side of the North West Face to gain the North West Ridge.

While one waited on the ridge, the other two continued upwards, making their third bivouac at the capping seracs. Next morning the weather broke, and although they reached a crevassed but easy snowfield that appeared to lead shortly to the summit, they were forced down.

The crest of the North West Ridge was followed in 1982 by Japanese, who reached above 6,000m, festooning the line with bolts, pegs and cable ladders that were still in place in 2004, when it was attempted again by Jeff Hollenbaugh, Marko Prezelj and Steve Swenson.

These three found difficulties of WI4 and M6, but were stopped a few hundred metres - probably no further than the 1980 high point - by avalanche prone slopes.

On the south west and south east flanks various hard routes on soaring granite pillars have been put up by a number of talented rock climbers, though apart from last year's Russian attempt, which stopped at around 6,300m, none has come close to the summit.

The photo shows Nejc Marcic and Luka Strazar with the North West Face of K7 West behind (between the two climbers).

Thanks to Zdenka Mihelic for help with this report
 



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