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Eight climbers from Slovakia (Gabo Cmarik, Andrej
Kolarik, Igor Koller, Jozef Kopold, Pavol Pekarcik,
Juraj Podebradsky, Erik Rabatin–and myself, Vladimir
Linek) and four climbers from Czech Republic (Milan Benian, Martin
Klonfar, Petr Piechowicz and Miroslav Turek) were in the Baltoro Region,
July 26 to August 31. Gabo Cmarik and Kopold wanted to
climb a new route alpine style on the south face of Great Trango Tower,
to the right of the 2004 American route, Azeem Ridge. They started early
the morning of August 4 in good weather with two small packs, food for
four days, no sleeping bags, no pads, no fixed ropes and no
walkie-talkie. They had intended to simulclimb the first 1000 meters,
but the terrain was difficult and they pitched it out, slowing their
advance. The second day it rained and snowed. On the fourth day they
reached the headwall. That night was cold (-15 degree C), with strong wind
and heavy snow; without sleeping bags, the pair endured a hard bivy. The
next day they progressed slowly over icy rock and deep, new snow. On the
fifth day, below the summit ridge, they ate their last bit of food.
Finally at noon on their seventh day of climbing, they reached the
ridge. They had climbed more than 3000 meters and encountered vertical
cracks, many pendulums, wet slabs with poor protection, and shattered

They intended to descend the normal route, but because of the amount of
snow on the ridge, they decided to rappel the Russian Route on the
northwest face. Though they expected the descent to be difficult, it was
harder than they anticipated: their rope was shorter than the Russians’,
and they had to use mostly their own belays. Since they had only eight
bolts and four pitons, they made most of their raps from one piece of
protection. Exhausted, they descended the rest of the afternoon and
through the night. Kopold was hit by an avalanche and plunged 150 meters
before stopping, while Cmaarik slipped on icy slabs and took
a thirty-meter fall. After sixteen hours of rappelling, they reached
Trango Base Camp at 5 a.m., August 11, having left three pitons and two
bolts for pendulums on the route, and eight bolts and the rest of their
equipment on the descent. They named their route Assalam Alaikum (ABO:
VII 5.11d A2, ca. 90 pitches).

On August 6 Kolarik and Rabatin began climbing on Hainabrakk East
Tower (5651m) with the goal of establishing a new line directly up
the middle of the wall. Bad weather forced them to retreat to base camp
three times. They climbed the first half of the route big-wall style,
with fixed ropes, and the second part alpine style. Their climb,
Mystical Denmo (VI 5.11a/b A2, 1400m), consists of mostly crack climbing
with some boulder problems between two crack systems. They reached the
summit on August 23, and the ground five days later.

In 2004 Koller, Cmarik and I had attempted a new line on
the east face of Shipton Spire (6017m). This year Koller,
Podebradsky and I, together with cameraman
Pekarcik, tried to finish the project. We started our
climb on August 1, fixing ten pitches to a big, W-shaped roof, then
continuing to our 2004 high point.

We went back to base camp August 7 because Cmarik and
Kopold had been missing for several days on Great Trango. After
Cmarik and Kopold returned, Koller,
Podebradsky, Pekarcik and I began to climb
Shipton again. On August 13 we jumared to a ledge two-thirds of the way
up the face, where we bivouacked. Over the next two days we joined the
American route Ship of Fools (VII 5.11 A2 WI6, 1350m, Ogden-Synnott,
1997) on the small snowy col of a side ridge. Our route, Prisoners of
Shipton (8 A3, 900m), was done, but we wanted to reach the top of
Shipton via Ship of Fools. The weather deteriorated on August 16, and as
we had no tent or bivy sacks, we retreated.

On August 19 we returned to the col, this time with a tent. It snowed
heavily the next night. In the afternoon we climbed the first two rock
pitches on the ridge in bad conditions, and the next day we climbed
three more difficult waterice pitches. On August 22 Koller’s fall cut
short our summit attempt, and we slowly descended to the col. After one
rest day Koller and I left the col alone at 3 a.m. and reached the end
of our fixed ropes at 5 a.m. Over the next ten hours we covered
difficult and dangerous terrain, and at 4 p.m. a severe storm engulfed
us near the top. We reached the summit ridge and climbed one more pitch,
but at 5:30, some eighty meters from the summit (where the American topo
indicates “easy terrain to the top”), we decided to retreat in the face
of dangerous cornices, hard climbing and approaching storm. We spent the
next eight hours descending in strong winds and heavy snow on the
complicated ridge, attaining the col at 2 a.m., twenty-three hours after
our departure.

After fixing two pitches, Martin Klonfar and Miroslav Turek climbed
Ship of Fools alpine style in four days to the col, where they waited
two stormy days before backing off. From August 14-16 they climbed
fifteen pitches of Prisoners of Shipton and then withdrew in threatening

Vladimir Linek, Bratislava, Slovakia