Beka Brakai Chhok summit by Moro and Barmasse
On 1 August 2008 Italian mountaineers Simone Moro and Hervè Barmasse reached the hitherto unclimbed summit of Beka Brakai Chhok (6940m) in Pakistan's Karakorum.
Published below is the expedition report and some thoughts by Simone Moro about his recent alpine style less than 48 hour round trip on Beka Brakai Chhok together with Hervé Barmasse. In the past the mountain had seen 3 attempts by teams from Britain and New Zealand.
Moro sums up the ascent as "a demanding, five star climb." Congratulations!
Report Beka Brakai Chhok, by Simone Moro
Beka Brakai Chhok is almost 7000m high (6940) and now the peak is no longer unclimbed... It proved a hard bone to pick, a demanding five star climb.
Before talking about the ascent, we'd like to say that we too are following the news from k2 with deep concern, just as we followed the recent drama on Nanga Parbat.
Hervè and I chose not to climb an 8000m peak (too crowded) and so we ventured into the remote Baltar Glacier valley which I'd already seen in 2005 and which I'd recommended to some Italian colleagues as having interesting objectives for the future.
This year we came to climb the virgin Batura II but, as you may know, we were surprised to find a Korean team which in the opposite of lightweight style was attempting to become the first to reach the untouched 7762m high summit.
It's because of this that we immediately abandoned our original project, since we wanted to avoid all sorts of "competition" and crowds which would have been nonsensical, dangerous and disrespectful of our lightweight climbing style.
We looked around and we were immediately taken in by a fantastic rock and ice pyramid which had resisted all previous attempts by a series of mountaineers who had courted the peak but been set back.
Beka Brakai Chhok is the name of the mountain we climbed in pure alpine style without any camps and in less than 48 hours. The debrief of a previous expedition attempt talks about 5 ascent camps and 3 descent camps and no summit...
We set off from the base of the wall (4750m) at 5:00 am. The climb went over difficult, initially dangerous terrain and we climbed roped together to 6000m where we joined an airy, knife-edge crest. Before this we climbed past sections of vertical and overhanging ice, several mixed sections and past numerous crevasses.
From circa 6000m we began a long and extremely delicate 5 pitch (60m rope) traverse to reach a wide plateau. We traversed diagonally across the plateau through knee-deep snow to reach the base of the summit pyramid at 6500m.
By now it was 21.30 and the time had come to organise a bivvy. We sheltered within a crevasse and beneath a serac without a sleeping bag, tent not stove... nothing expect for bitter cold and shivering. We sat in the sun for an hour the next morning to warm up and then we began the last 400m to the summit.
We climbed up difficult terrain and two nearly-vertical mixed pitches proved run-out and almost protectionless. We reached the final knife-edge ridge at 14.30 and finally stepped on to the summit, a gigantic cornice/merangue of unconsolidated snow.
We shook hands, took the ritual summit photos and video and then descended quickly. We knew that the descent would be complicated and dangerous and we didn't want to waste time on the summit as we preferred to concentrate on the actual climb.
We decided to descend via a different route than the one taken on the way up (green line). Logical, direct and quick, but also dangerous due to the huge summit seracs. We climbed alert and as fast as possible, ready to avoid possible a possible collapse.
All turned out for the best and at midnight we reached out small tent where our climb had begun. We continued on down and reached BC at 3.00 am... an infinite ride, a highly satisfying ascent which reassured us about our skills and closed the tabs left open by previous attempts.
Alpinism is not just death, tragedy, survival and heroism. While we don't expect our climb to get the headlines of Pakistan’s 8000ers, we hope it will serve as a reminder to both those passionate about mountaineering and also the general public. A reminder that mountaineers like us and many others climb mountains to live, to enjoy, to grow. And to accept the verdicts of life and sometimes also of fate; without arguing or lacking respect toward those who share the same value: the value of life.