Italian mountaineer Tomas Franchini reports about the first ascent of the virgin Shaue Sar (6653m) in Karakorum, Pakistan, first ascended on 27/05/2022 with Philipp Brugger and Lukas Waldner. Franchini also soloed the unclimbed peaks Gypsy Sar (5810m) and Croz von Zartgurben (4650m).
I’ve been wanting to go to the Karakoram for a number of years, and I’d noticed a valley full of unclimbed peaks. The goal wasn’t to climb a mountain in particular, but to explore the area in search of new projects. Finally this year with Philipp Brugger and Lukas Waldner we managed to organise things and make this trip happen!
We left in mid-May and are now in Islamabad on our way back! Despite the relatively few days of good weather, we managed to explore the area and even get some climbing done. Moving across unchartered terrain is something completely different from climbing somewhere where everything has already been discovered and mapped out. Over here you have to move with caution, leave plenty of margin, take special care and attention … given its isolation and the “unknown” that awaits! This is part of my style, and I am happy and thank Philipp and Lukas for sharing with me this way of going to the mountains that few have.
We managed to climb a totally virgin 6653m peak which we called Shaue Sar, via a beautiful and logical line of ice up the north face. We started from out advanced camp, located at about 4600m, at around 3am. The approach and the climb itself took us about 11 hours, and this was followed by the long descent which invoked downclimbing and plenty of Abalakov abseils. We left no traces on the face, and returned to our advanced camp at 7pm. Climbing this 2000m north face in a single push was a fantastic experience!
During the acclimatisation phase I let my wandering instinct get the upper hand and in a parallel valley I climbed a virgin 5810m summit I called Gypsy Sar, via a direct, beautiful line of ice and mixed climbing.
At the end of our trip the weather turned bad. After exploring the glacier in search of new projects, we returned to the lower valleys. Philipp continued his running and non-stop training, since he’s preparing for his trail running comps, young Lukas relaxed discovering other tracks while I, drawn to a beautiful rocky peak in the Zartgurben valley, climbed what is probably a virgin mountain. I followed a fantastic line that tested me somewhat and proved a great experience. I called the 4650m mountain Croz von Zartgurben, and the route Dolomite Hunza.
The Karakorum is huge and full of potential, I will definitely return. The only drawback is that its best season is from June to September, during the mountain guide high season. But there’s only one life, and time passes quickly!
I’d like to thank my climbing partners Philipp and Lukas with whom I got on really well, and summitexportpakistan for providing all the support and help at Base Camp. I am currently in Islamabad and I can guarantee that “acclimatisation” back to normal life is harder than that at altitude. Internet connection, traffic, and the slightly warm temperature of 43°C… But the good side is that there’s a whole new culture to discover and plenty of quality chilli to take home!
Safe climbing this summer!