Hagshu’s unclimbed north face has been on my mind for over 20 years. And the time has finally come. Yayy!
At 6,515 metres on the latest Indian survey it the highest peak in this part of the world. And as an eye catching line on a peak that is to Zanskar what the Matterhorn is to Zermatt we can’t wait to go.
I will be climbing with Paul Ramsden and Steve Burns and Ian Cartwright will make up the team. So that’s exactly the same combination as we had on Shiva, 50 miles away, in 2012. And it was from high on Shiva that Paul and I saw Hagshu on the skyline and I was reminded what an eye catching mountain it is. And then last year we saw it from even closer range whilst making the first ascent of Kishtwar Kailash. It was then that we knew the time had come. Hagshu had risen to the top of my list of urge giving objectives.
It has been a long time coming as it had first caught my eye back in 1993, whilst making the first ascent of Cerro Kishtwar with Steve Sustad. But from 1994 problems overflowing from Kashmir effectively prevented access and so it is only now, 21 years after my first sighting, that final preparations are being made. I can hardly believe that we are finally going to have a go.
Despite numerous attempts Hagshu has had only two ascents, one from the south and one from the east, both in 1989. So it’s 25 years since anyone has stood on the summit. And the north face remains unclimbed despite several determined efforts. The high point reached was about half way up. Beyond that disturbingly steep mixed climbing looks to lead to the unclimbed north summit. But it’s still a long way from there to the main summit and then there is the challenge of the descent. If all goes well the plan is to maximise aesthetic pleasure by traversing the mountain. All in all we are reckoning on about 10 days for the round trip from base camp.
So, with permits secure and visas in place all we need to do now is get there and end 21 years of waiting. After a couple of flights, a couple of days driving and a couple of days walking in we expect to have a base camp two days walk from the foot of the face. Full time jobs mean we have limited time so we are allowing something like a week to get to base camp, a week acclimatising, 10 days or so to do the route and a bit less than a week to get home. That’s a pretty tight but well tried and tested timescale.
Keep your fingers crossed for us.