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Home » Climbing Notes » BROAD PEAK, SOUTHWEST FACE


In 1957 a small Austrian team first reached the summit of Broad Peak
(8047) via a route on the north side. This area comprises other routes
as well, and established lines join the north ridge to the summit from
the west and east; but on the south side, there was nothing.

Our expedition–six climbers from Italy and Sergey Samoilov and I from
Kazakhstan–wanted to climb Broad Peak by a new route from the south. We
established our base camp near Concordia at the start of the Falchan
Glacier on July 5 at ca. 4700 meters and immediately began to study our
proposed line. Cornices, difficult rock and ice, avalanches: everybody
felt it was too difficult and dangerous. The expedition leader, Roberto
Piantoni, informed Sergey and me about a new plan… but after
acclimatizing to 7200 meters on the normal route, I returned to the
original dream. Sergey supported me without any doubts. After a good
rest and scrupulous preparation, on July 19 we started up the southwest

We spent three days in the Black and Yellow rockbands (at 6300 meters
and 6530-6750 meters respectively) with demanding climbing: some pitches
of 5.10b and 5.10d were a pleasure in crampons. I had trained hard since
spring for this route, and now I got my results. We encountered one
section of A2 at 6570 meters, and a section of M5 at 6750 meters. We
used all our equipment to overcome these parts, including our two
fifty-five-meter ropes.

The weather, which had been fine for the first three days, broke down
during the night at 7000 meters–the first bivouac since our initial
one, at 6100 meters, in which we had been able to lie down instead of
sit–and now clouds refreshed the slopes. We started early the next
morning, but lost time in new, deep snow. At around 7400 meters small
avalanches began to occur nearby; we avoided them by climbing on rock
ribs. Drytooling in deep fog (up to M6+) took me into a special world. I
saw nothing around me; I could follow only my intuition. We spent the
night sitting on a little platform at 7500 meters and continued our way
to nowhere the next morning, in falling snow, on shattered rock. Only
the subsequent evening did we discover we’d arrived at the end of the
wall. It was our first day without food, and our last with water. Our
plan was to climb in five days, with one in reserve. But hidden
difficulties and bad weather had cost us an additional day.

When we reached a tiny flat place at 7800 meters, we fell asleep (only
one of us could lie down). One sleeping bag, one down jacket, one
Gore-Tex, one Polartex… for each, you ask? No, for both of us. In the
morning a heavy wind swept away the clouds. Thick fog covered the
mountains below 7500 meters. On the South-Southeast Spur of Broad Peak,
where we arrived the next day at 7950 meters, the wind grew powerful. I
fought against it, looking for protection in the rock (M4+). Step by
step we continued, through the high altitude, through the almost-black
sky. When I saw the summit flag, I forgot everything and felt stronger.

The wind tried to blow us from the top. The panoramic view included only
the highest points of the earth. It was an empty world, and only two men
in it…. 11:30 a.m., July 25.

Sometimes humans need to open boundaries themselves. For me the
Southwest Face (5.10d A2 M6+ 70 degree, 2546m) of Broad Peak became one
such moment. I hope my future ambitions remain honorable. The expedition
has ended, but I will never forget these days on one of the most
difficult mountains in my life.

Denis Urubko, Almaty, Kazakstan