Artur, Adam and Maciej

Race to Gasherbrum-1 Winter Expedition rages amidst freezing temperatures

No fewer than two teams are engaged to scale Gasherbrum-1, the second highest peak in the asherbrum Massif and have been engaged in acclimatisation rigours for the last few weeks. Gasherbrum-1, also known as the Hidden Peak or the K-5, is the Highest among the all the seven Gasherbrum peaks in Pakistan and is the second highest in Pakistan after K-2.  Currently Gerfried Goschl along with his group of five accomplished mountaineers will be attempting to scale the giant rock while another group of Polish Mountaineers will be pitched in the same battle. G-1 has never been summated in winters and is one of the remaining four 8000ers in Pakistan which have never been scaled in winters. The team  includes Darek Zaluski, Nisar Hussain, Cedric Hahlen, Alex Txikon and Carlos Suarez and will be treading on a new route on the 8,080 metre  peak.  The Polish team comprises of Adam Bielecki, Agnieszka Bielecka, Janusz Gołąb led by the renowned Polish winter climber Artur Hajzer. The Polish team has already covered considerable ground as the two teams are locked in fierce battle to summit the
peak for the first time in winters, although in a healthy competitive and friendly environment.  The Polish Team leader Hajzer wrote in his message on January 19.

“We  are bivouacking in Gore II at 4,300 m above sea level. There is no snowfall; a 15 cm snow cover; cloud top height – 6,000 m; weak wind – 15 km/h; 80% cloudiness; the temperature in tents is -10°C. We have reached this place after three nights in Jola, Payu and Urdukas. We will reach the base camp in two or three days, depending on porters’ decision. The weather conditions are favourable for marching, though our porters would like it to be sunnier.  On the other hand, it is warmer thanks to the clouds, i.e. -10°C at this time of the year is a rather high temperature. Military posts that we pass inspire our respect. In small huts without heating, in the middle of the glacier soldiers guard vast boarders of their country. Their situation is unenviable.  From Payu we follow the Baltoro Glacier. The path is rather distinct: mounds and tracers show us the route; military telephone cables are sometime visible.”

Goschl’s team also includes Nisar Hussain, the young Pakistani prodigy who has the accolade of climbing all the five-8000ers of Pakistan and was the first and the youngest Pakistani to do it.  Goschl spoke highly of Hussain who works as a High Altitude Porter (HAP) and although he normally climbs for money, Goschl says Hussain also has personal ambitions regarding mountaineering.  Goschl said, “Since we first knew each other in 2003 Nisar has been a close friend of mine.  He has been personal HAP (high altitude porter) for my team members on Nanga Parbat, G2 and K2. Nisar climbed all 8000ers in Pakistan several times, always without artificial oxygen, and he set a new record last summer as the first to summit Pakistan 8000ers ten times (1xK2, 1xNP, 1xBP, 4xG2, 3xG1).  No doubt he is the strongest climber in Pakistan. Of course he climbs for money (as do all HAPs) most of the time but it’s also his passion. This winter for the first time Nissar will join a team not because of salary but because he wants to be part of the project. He knows G1 very, very well! Down the road we’ll try to bring him as member in our Nepal expeditions since it’s his biggest dream.”

Gasherbrum which in Balti means either “Beautiful Mountain” or “Shining Wall”, was first successfully scaled in 1958 by Americans, Andrew Kauffman and Pere Schoening.  Wojciech Kurtyka and Jerzy  Kukuczka were the first Poles, who summated it in 1983.  They climbed in alpine style via the southwest face. The most popular classic route leads from the west side and in the upper parts goes through the
so-called “Japanese Couloir”, situated in the highest part of the north-west face.