Aleš Česen and Luka Lindič climb Broad Peak and North Summit of Gasherbrum IV

Aleš Česen in Luka Lindič na Broad Peaku in severnem vrhu Gašerbruma IV

Slovenska alpinista Aleš Česen (Alpski gorniški klub) in Luka Lindič (AO PD Celje – Matica) sta v pogorju Karakorum v Pakistanu julija opravila vrhunska alpinistična vzpona. Za aklimatizacijo sta se 12. julija 2016 kot edina alpinista letos povzpela na Broad Peak (8047 m), 26. julija pa sta med poskusom vzpona na Gašerbrum IV (7925 m) po severozahodnem grebenu dosegla njegov severni vrh (7900 m), kar je šele četrti vzpon po tej tehnično zelo zahtevni smeri na skoraj osemtisočaka.

Aleš Česen and Luka Lindič climb Broad Peak and North Summit of Gasherbrum IV
Author: Manca Čujež
Slovenian alpine climbers Aleš Česen and Luka Lindič accomplished two ascents in the Karakoram mountain range in Pakistan in July. To acclimatise, they climbed Broad Peak (8047 m) on 12 July 2016, being the only climbers to do so this year. On 26 July during their attempt to climb the Gasherbrum IV, they climbed its North Summit (7900 m) along the demanding Northwest Ridge, which is only the fourth ascent along this highly technical route.

2 On the way to the Gasherbrum IV base camp_photo by Aleš Česen

On the way to the Gasherbrum IV base camp (photo by Aleš Česen)

Česen and Lindič are a well-synced duo, who have climbed together on expeditions in the Indian Himalayas, in Alaska, and now for the second time in Karakoram. Together with Marko Prezelj, they also received the prestigious mountaineering award Piolet d’Or in 2015 for the first ascent of the north face of Hagshu. They arrived to Pakistan on 15 June, and two weeks later they reached the base camp under Broad Peak. They acclimatized with two climbs, and as the first climbers this season they summited Broad Peak, the twelfth highest mountain in the world, on July 12. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first Slovenian ascent to the 8047-metre high peak by Bogdan Biščak and Viki Grošelj. They climbed Broad Peak on 28 July 1986, and the next day their accomplishment was complemented with the first Slovenian female ascent to an eight-thousander by Marija Štremfelj.

3 Luka Lindič on the top ridge of Broad Peak_photo by Aleš Česen
Luka Lindič on the top ridge of Broad Peak (photo by Aleš Česen)

A few metres higher, but technically much less demanding, Broad Peak was only an acclimatization climb for the Slovenian duo. The main objective of their expedition, which was sponsored also by the Alpine Association of Slovenia, was the ascent to Gasherbrum IV (7925 m) along the mighty west face, also known as Shining Wall. “We see the wall as a great challenge, which should be approached with all due respect, seriousness and caution. We are aware that success in this wall is anything but granted,” stressed the expedition leader Ales Česen before leaving for Pakistan. Steeply rising more than three thousand metres above the Baltoro Glacier, this legendary wall is considered one of the finest and most demanding climbing challenges. But due to unfavourable conditions, the Slovenians decided to climb along Northwest Ridge to North Summit of Gasherbrum IV (7900 m), which was only the fourth ascent along this route. The climb was accomplished between 23 and 26 July in alpine style and without the use of supplemental oxygen. They safely returned to the base camp during a heavy snowfall on 28 July.

4 In the upper part of the northwest ridge of Gasherbrum IV_photo by Aleš Česen

In the upper part of the northwest ridge of Gasherbrum IV (photo by Aleš Česen)

“Our great desire was to accomplish a first ascent in the right part of West Face, where we expected very delicate rock climbing at altitudes above 7500 metres. Unfortunately, the forecast period of good weather was too short for a serious attempt in such terrain. Therefore, we redirected our energy to a slightly less complex terrain in the northwest ridge of the mountain. The conditions during the climb confirmed that we had made a good call. On the day when we reached North Summit, bad weather began to overtake us. Only sober decisions and great perseverance led us relatively safely back to the valley,” told Česen.

5 The northwest ridge of Gasherbrum IV at the altitude of 6700 metres_photo by Aleš Česen

The northwest ridge of Gasherbrum IV at the altitude of 6700 metres (photo by Aleš Česen)

“For the ascent to Gasherbrum IV we had the longest window of good weather during the entire expedition; it lasted two days and a half. Only our fast responsiveness and motivation enabled us to carry out this kind of climb in such a short period. During the entire expedition, the most problems were caused by loose snow, which required a lot of exhausting wading. Since the weather was so bad, we were actually considering to return before reaching North Summit. It is unbelievable that on North Summit we were even basking in the sun for a few minutes, but during descent we were again caught by bad weather. The descent was very demanding, always in very poor visibility and threatened by numerous loose snow avalanches. I think, that we can be proud of how we carried out the expedition, considering the conditions we had,” added Luka Lindič.

6 From the last bivouac on Gasherbrum IV, 7500 metres high_photo by Aleš Česen

From the last bivouac on Gasherbrum IV, 7500 metres high (photo by Aleš Česen)

The first ascent of Gasherbrum IV, the 17th highest mountain in the world, was accomplished in 1958 along Northeast Ridge by Italian alpine climbers Valter Bonatti and Carlo Mauri. The steep West Face had stood derelict until 1985, when the Austrian-Polish climbing team consisting of Robert Schauer and Voytek Kurtyka decided to ascend it. It took them nine days to climb the wall in alpine style, but the worsening of weather conditions and lack of food prevented them from reaching the summit. A year later, the Australian-American team consisting of Greg Child, Tim Macartney-Snape and Tom Hargis ascended Gasherbrum IV along the Northwest Ridge. This challenging route was now three decades later, between 23 and 26 July 2016, repeated for the third time by the Slovenian team Česen-Lindič, but due to poor weather they decided to go for North Summit of Gasherbrum IV. The west face of this Karakoram giant was already visited in 1995 by the Slovenian alpine climber Slavko Svetičič, who in his solo ascent reached the height of 7100 meters, but caught by a snowstorm, he remained on the mountain forever. The first to climb West Face (over the central rib) and to reach the summit was the Korean climbing team in 1997. The team comprised of Bang Jung-ho, Kim Tong-kwan and Yoo Huk.

7 Aleš Česen struggling with deep snow on Gasherbrum IV_photo by Luka Lindič

Aleš Česen struggling with deep snow on Gasherbrum IV  (photo by Luka Lindič)

Climbed routes:
12. 7. Broad Peak, along the Austrian route
26. 7. Gasherbrum IV, attempt to climb to the top, reached North Summit, along the route Child-Hargis-Macartney-Snape (NW Ridge), alpine style

Photo credits to the attached photos go to Aleš Česen and Luka Lindič.

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