Arc'athlete and climber, Maciek Ciesielski, spends the year covering the globe in search of sun, snow, and great ascents. Most recently, he travelled to Pakistan to take on Trango Towers. Here's his report from the expedition.
This year in Pakistan, the conditions for climbing were poor. In the Trango Towers area, there was a lot of ice and snow in the walls and snow fell for much of the season. Even in good weather, which lasted for one or two days, the walls were wet and challenging.
A Polish team of Maciek Ciesielski, Mariusz Serda, and Łukasz Mirowski, with support from Arc'teryx, wanted to climb free a Slovenian route on Nameless Trango. The poor weather forced a change in our original plans, as we didn't believe that free climbing in alpine style on Trango was going to be possible. So we searched for an alternative objective.
But few days before the end of our expedition, the weather improved – four good days in a row! The longest stretch of clear weather since we arrived at base camp. On the second day, our team left camp (4,050 m) at 3am. By 7 am, we were moving toward the col, about 4,225 m.
The climbs were spectacular: Sun Terrace (8 pitches up to 5.12a), followed by 6 pitches of up to 5.12a. At Sun Terrace, we fixed our two 70 meters and spent the night without a tent but with a pretty warm sleeping bag.
The next day, we started climbing at about 7 o'clock. The first six pitches of Slovenian Route (up to 5.12a) were very often iced or wet. We climbed all free in on-sight style, except for one pitch – a hand crack (5.11d) that was full of ice, which we had to climb with one rest. The last hard pitch (20th) of this route (5.11d) was at about 6,100 m. After this point, the wall became a little less steep, but with the weather, the next six pitches were totally iced and full of snow.
Between us, we had one pair of heavy boots, one pair of crampons, and one very short and light ice axe. Time for some variations! We tried a traverse to left, toward a steeper, and therefore ice- and snow-free route in the sun called Eternal Flame.
The traverse was easy. We reached the belay and the two hardest pitches on this route (5.13a and 5.12d). We climbed these with aid. The next two pitches (5.11d), we climbed free on AF style. Finally, the last four, much easier pitches except for the ice, we climbed free. We reached the snow-capped summit of Nameless Trango at 8:15pm.
By 1am, after eleven long rappels on 70 m ropes, we were back to our sleeping bags on Sun Terrace. A rest until 6 am and then we continued our rappels. At 9 am, fifty-four hours since leaving our base camp, we were finally back! Very tired, but also very happy.