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Shingu Charpa’s (5600m) 1550-meter north ridge. Before Klenov, Davy and Shabunin’s succes earlier this summer, five teams have unsuccessfully attempted the north ridge since 2000. All have reported loose rock, horrid weather, and demanding technical climbing. [Photo] Igor Chaplynsky

The September 12 Shingu Charpa NewsWire incorrectly reported that the Russian team of Alexander Klenov, Mikhail Davy and Alexander Shabunin had made the coveted first integral ascent of Shingu Charpa’s north ridge. Subsequent information has revealed that while the strong Russian team intersected and summited via the mountain’s north ridge, the majority of the route was on the previously untouched east face of the mountain. The team spent twenty one days on the route and three on the descent, and graded the ca. 1600-meter route ABO: 7a (obl. 6c) M5 A3.

The strong Russian team (among other climbs, Davy and Klenov have participated in a new route on Spantik’s northwest pillar in 2000, as well as a new route on the north face of Thalay Sagar in 1999, both in an expedition style traditional to Russian alpinists; for more information about this style, see Alexander Odintsov’s article, The Walls, The Walls, in Alpinist Issue 19) has not yet released a full account of the climb, but the report issued today from indicated that they contended with dirty, vegetated and chossy rock throughout the majority of the route, as well as nightly rockfalls on the order of “thousands of tons.” “Very horrid” weather capped off the trials the team faced during their twenty-four days on the wall. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

Shingu Charpa’s climbing history, though rather short, contains a fair share of controversy. In the summer of 2006, two teams traveled to Pakistan’s Nangma Valley with the goal of ticking the coveted first ascent of Shingu Charpa’s (5600m) 1550-meter north ridge.

In July, 2006 Ukrainians Igor Chaplynsky, Andrey Rodiontsev and Orest Verbitsky claimed the first ascent; a technical route, free to the summit at VI 5.11d. Chaplynsky gave a first-person account of the climb in Alpinist 18’s Climbing Notes.

The next month, Americans Kelly Cordes and Josh Wharton climbed about 5,000 feet on a similar line but backed off just before the summit. “We expected the summit snowfields to be soft,” Wharton said, “but instead they were mostly black ice covered by just a thin layer of snow–sketchy stuff in the light boots, sneakers, and dull aluminum crampons we were running.” The Americans reported their route as chossy and “too poor to warrant further attention,” but praised the Ukrainians’ accomplishment.

The Ukrainian climb was nominated for the 2007 Piolet d’Or Award. However, in a post published March 22, 2007 on the website, Orest Verbitsky told the organizers of the awards that he could not visit Grenoble, France for the award proceedings “for no other reason than that [the Ukrainian team]… had not reached the summit and [he] had no moral right to be among the nominees.” Orest also is quoted as saying: “We have not climbed 100 meters up to the summit as we had not enough ice gear”–the same conditions that turned the Americans back on the same ridge days later.

Igor Chaplynsky continued to claim that he was at the summit but has never produced any proof. A complete timeline and explanation of the controversy can be found in the March 30, 2007 NewsWire.

Shingu Charpa is in the Masherbrum range in the central Karakoram. It was first climbed in July of 2000. A three member Korean team intended to climb the north ridge but upon their arrival, thought the difficulties too great and decided to climb the western face instead. Fixing ropes for 700 meters up a dangerous approach couloir, the Korean team then committed themselves to the wall, encountering difficulties up to 5.11 A2 before their successful summit bid on July 23. Frequent rain and snowstorms made the threat of rockfall during their seven days on the route a very serious and omnipresent concern.

Before Klenov, Davy and Shabunin’s success earlier this summer, five teams have unsuccessfully attempted the peak, all by the north ridge since 2000. All the teams have reported loose rock, horrid weather, and demanding technical climbing.