Praqpa Ri South, Mirchi Peak, two Chilean Karakorum first ascents
In July 2017 a Chilean expedition comprised of Andres Bosch, Alejandro Mora and Armando Montero has made two first ascents close to Broad Peak and K2 in Pakistan’s Karakorum range: Praqpa Ri South 7046m and the new route Mirchi up Norit Peak, 6270m.
On the 13th of June 2017 Chilean alpinists Andrés Bosch (29), Alejandro Mora (39) and Armando Montero (36) arrived in Pakistan with the aim of exploring and climbing virgin peaks in the Khalkhal valley, located in front of Broad Peak and K2. According to their information, in this area there was one 7000m-peak named Praqpa Ri that had not been climbed and another 4 smaller unclimbed peaks. In fact, Praqpa Ri had been attempted in 2016 by Germany’s Ralf Dujmovits and Canada’s Nancy Hansen from the Savoia glacier from the north, and the two had suggested an easier approach from the Khalkhal glacier to the south.
After trekking across the Baltoro Glacier for 6 days they reached Broad Peak base camp which acted as their starting point for their ascents thanks to its proximity to the Khal Khal valley. Two days were spent resting and organizing gear, then on the third day they headed up into the valley for a one-day exploration to check conditions of the glacier and to discover the best way to reach the col (5600m). Located at the base of the south ridge of Praqpa Ri, they intended to set up a camp here. Conditions on the glacier in the Khal Khal valley were deemed very good so they returned to base camp and bean preparing for a 4-day trip.
After a couple of days analysing their options they left base camp to attempt a peak next to the col which, according to Google Earth, was around 6200m high; ideal for acclimatization*. The approach across the Khalkhal glacier was safe but long, taking 2 days to get the col of Praqpa Ri (a first ABC was located the middle of the glacier). During the approach they noticed a rocky-snowy ridge leading directly to the summit and decided to climb this. They camped at the col at 5600m, rested for a day and then set off at 3am on 30 June. From the col they descended for 300m, reached the ridge at approximately 5300m and then followed grade IV rock for 500m before putting on their crampons and following a 45°-60°snow ramp to 40m below the summit. The last pitch proved the steepest at 70° and after 12 hours of climbing they reached the 6270m high summit. Due to unstable weather they descended quickly and returned to base camp the next day. The new route has been called Mirchi, which means "Chili" in the local language, and is graded 1000m, D+, IV, 45°-70°.
At this point Montero had to return home and so Bosch and Mora set their sights on Praqpa Ri. After some rest days at base camp they received a good weather forecast and set off towards the col at 5600 m, reached on 12 July after walking along the glacier for two days. They pitched Camp 1 here and rested for another day, then set off at 4am of 14 July up the South Ridge. A short M3 pitch was followed by 300m of snow fields (approximately 50-70°) with three 90° rimayes. These were followed by 300m on good ice (60°-70°) that ended on an exposed and sharp ridge. Deep snow on the ridge slowed progress and at 8pm they reached a point under a big serac, the only one during their 16 hours of climbing, where they could pitch their tent.
They rested all of the next day and started their summit bid at 11:30pm. The climbing proved less technical than before, but due to the altitude and deep snow they made slow progress. 200 meters above Camp 2 they reached a small plateau which would have been a good place for a tent, and then a ridge led to the final 50° ramp that took them to the South Summit of Praqpa Ri, which they reached at 10 am on 16 July. In deteriorating weather they followed their footprints to Camp 2. The next day bad visibility impeded their descent to C1 and after being stuck at Camp 2 for a day they made the most of a short weather window to descend to Camp 1 and return to base camp below Broad Peak on 19 July after having spent 9 days in the mountains. The overall grade of Praqpa Ri South Ridge is TD+, 1500m, M3, 50-90°.
* update 06/09/2017
The mountain is called Norit Peak and was first ascended by a Dutch expedition comprised of Gerard van Sprang and Ronald Naar in 1983 via the NW Ridge. The new climb Michi ascends the SW Ridge.