At the start of summer, French climbers Martin Elias, Victor Saucède, Jeremy Stagnetto and Jérôme Sullivan made the first ascent of a new route in the Kondus Valley in Pakistan’s Karakorum. The 1,600-metre M6 WI6 climbs to the top of Dansam West (K13); they climbed it alpine style.
The four mountain guides caught wind of the potential on the remote Dansam West thanks to a photo shared with them by legendary American alpinist Steve Svenson. The peak has three major pillars on its north face. In 1980, the west summit of the mountain was climbed by a Japanese team, but the valley soon closed until recently.
Sullivan wrote an extensive report here, in which he says, “On the 29th we woke up to a starry night. Fatigue was showing, and it was difficult to get started. We left our tents and rock gear and departed for the summit at sunrise. We were surprised by the difficulties. We had imagined that the more moderate terrain would be breached quickly, but the bullet-hard ice hidden beneath 10 cm of powder snow proved extremely time and energy consuming. On 60° slopes we had to build anchors, and it took us a good part of the day to climb the 400 m separating us from the summit… Our joy on the summit was untarnished by the discovery of the old rope, and we hugged and laughed and even shed a tear!”
It took them a day and a half to rappel their route and to reach their base camp. The following day, they hiked out and just made it in time to catch a plane in Islamabad to head home.