Pakistan: new route in the Nangmah Valley
Leopoldo Faria, Rui Rosado, Ana and Bruno Silva Gaspar from Portugal have established "Off-Dido" (7a+ 550m) on the Babar Wall in the Nangmah Valley in Pakistan.
After Mexico this spring, in summer it was time for Pakistan for the Portugese climber Leopoldo Faria who, together with Rui Rosado, Ana and Bruno Silva Gaspar carried out the first ascent of Off-Dido" (7a+ 550m) up Babar Wall in the Nangmah Valley in Pakistan. His trip report is published below and this includes a brief first-hand account of the truly dramatic situation which Pakistan experienced and is still experiencing due to the wide-scale flooding. For more about this please check out DEC, the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella organisation for 13 humanitarian aid agencies.Furthermore, check out Adriano Sofri's piece written for the Italian newspaper La Repubblica about the situation in Pakistan, but not only.
by Leopoldo Faria
This summer I decided to go and explore the big wall potential in Pakistan, together with three Portuguese friends, Rui Rosado, Ana Silva and Bruno Gaspar. We departed for one and a half months, what we didnt know was that the hardest part would be to actually get to the mountains. Because of the unprecedented floods that caused the enormous disaster all over Pakistan, resulting in thousands of victims and total chaos, our team was stuck in Islamabad with no option of going anywhere. Since the route to Skardu (the gateway to the Karakorum) was closed with road blocks and destroyed bridges and the planes were not flying because of the bad weather, our only chance was to hire a jeep and depart for a big adventure to try and reach in Skardu. After 3 days of hard driving and many points-of-no-return, the team finally managed to reach Skardu. From here it would just take another 5 hours by jeep to finally reach Kanday and the start of the trek to Amin Brakk base camp. Unfortunately, a final section of the road to Kanday was blocked off so it was time to walk, adding another 6 hours to the trek! On the way we witnessed destruction caused by giant rock falls that had dragged away houses and the lives on some villagers. Despite giving some supplies to the local population we were overcome by a feeling of impotence for not being able to do more for them
Off-Dido (7a+ 550m), Babar Wall, Nangmah Valley in Pakistan.
Our main target had been to climb in the Charakusa Valley, but due to the the unluckily situation that Pakistan is still experiencing and because we were running out of time, we were forced to change plans and select a closer destination.We chose to explore the beautiful Nangmah Valley. This green valley still has a massive potential for new routes and after exploring the walls around our base camp we spotted a beautiful crack on an unclimbed face close to Amin Brakk.
Climbing at high altitude (close to 5000m) wasnt easy and trying to free climb definitely wasnt a piece of cake either. Numerous cracks were filled with plants and dirt, forcing us to do some cleaning sessions in order to free climb. This apart, we managed to enjoy some high-quality crack climbing, with lots of offwidths adding some exciting moments! After 4 days of effort, when we were already on easy terrain just two pitches from the summit, a small hold broke and the next thing I remember is that I was flying. It was an easy slab with no chance for protection and after 12 meters I crashed against a small ledge, breaking my wrist and rupturing my foot ligaments. It took me 4 hours in a lot of pain to get back down to ground, but we did it.
Despite having reached easy terrain, it would be great to have summited. However, bearing in mind all we experienced, we are glad to have even climbed in Pakistan this year and really happy with the route that we established. It is very likely that this is the first ascent of face, which we have called Babar in honour of our cook, Altaf.