K6 West, Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welsted's Karakorum first ascent
Last July Canadians Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welsted made the first ascent of K6 West (7040m) in the Karakorum, Pakistan.
At the end of July Canadian alpinists Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welsted succeeded in climbing an interesting new route up the hitherto unclimbed K6 in Pakistan's Charakusa valley, and a video documenting the ascent is now online.
Known as one the big prizes in the Karakorum, K6 West had been attempted in the past by strong teams, notably the Americans Vince Anderson and Steve House and Slovenia's Marko Prezelj who in 2007, despite making the first ascent of nearby K7 West (6858m), were forced to abandon efforts on K6 West due to too much snowfall.
46-year old Slawinski and 42-year-old Ian Welsted climbed the NW Face in alpine style from 25 - 30 July and apart from the route's technical difficulties, they also had to negotiate the arduous approach - a narrow valley constantly threatened by avalanches and an active icefall. Furthermore, even before reaching the mountain Slawinski and Welsted had to deal with a huge unknown: the terrorist attack at Nanga Parbat base camp. At the time of the incredible and tragic massacre the alpinists were traveling by bus along the Karakoram Highway and after having analysed the situation they decided to change plans; they immediately returned to Islamabad and while their climbing partner, America's Jesse Huey, chose to return, the duo flew directly to Skardu to avoid the Karakoram Highway. In spite of all these difficulties, once on the face the two climbers made good headway and reached the summit on 29 July after having lost a day trying a line that dead ended
Slawinski had visited the valley in 2005 and told Planetmountain.com "I knew that K6 West was one of the great remaining prizes of the valley" adding "The route was far from being extreme, and things never really felt out of control. Having said that, personally it's a huge success (I'm not speaking here of any broader significance!). I've been fairly successful on alpine-scale mountains back home in Canada, but never quite managed to transfer those skills to high altitude. I feel like I finally succeeded in doing so on K6 West, and I'm very, very happy about it. The climb was an extraordinary experience.
It is worth noting that Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welsted have been shortlisted for the National Geographic 2014 Adventurers of the Year for this ascent.
The expedition was supported by the Goretex Shipton-Tilman Grant, the Lyman-Spitzer Award and the Mugs Stump Award.