Edu Marin is off to Pakistan to attempt a free ascent of Eternal Flame on Trango Tower with Miquel Mas Serrat and Marc Subirana. The three climbers will only be spending 37 days on their expedition, which includes acclimatization time.
“Our main objective is to try to free the original route and if it is really impossible we will repeat Alex Huber’s variant,” said Marin. “There is a factor that we cannot control and that we totally depend on luck, it is the weather and the conditions of the wall, but there is only one way to get to that top.”
The 650-metre route climbs to the summit of the 6,286-metre Trango Tower, aka Nameless Tower, the tallest of the Trango Group in the Karakoram. Wolfgang Gullich, Kurt Albert, Christof Stiegler, and Milan Sykora made the first ascent in 1989 by aid and free climbing, and graded it VI 5.12 A2.
Over four days in mid-August 2009, German brothers Alexander and Thomas Huber became the first climbers to redpoint Eternal Flame at VI 5.13a. Like the 1989 ascent, the brothers fixed lines and rappelled to their high camp every night, and jumared back up in the morning.
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“The featureless granite at the traverse was exactly as it has been described to us: featureless,” the Hubers wrote on their website. “But there was another chance! From the beginning of the pendulum-traverse we climbed straight up along thin cracks for about thirty meters and then traversed left through almost vertical, but featured slabs into the crack-system of the Eternal Flame. And it worked!” The two pitches were 5.12a.
They then had a six-day weather window and spent a few days working their way to the top. Two hard finger cracks gave the Hubers trouble on day three. “Only after a very intensive boulder session we were able to crack the hard nut,” they said of the overhanging 5.12d and 5.13a sections. But the next day, two pitches of easier climbing led them to the summit.
Be sure to follow Marin on Instagram for expedition updates. Marin has climbed some of the world’s hardest sport routes, including his FA of Valhalla, a 14-pitch 5.15 in China. You can find the Hubers’ topo to Eternal Flame here, and rent a film about their climb below.