Sunday, 28 September 2008

Base Camp Destroyed

At 02.15 hrs on 26th Sept. 5 hours before we were due to départ our Base Camp underneath Trango Tower, a huge sérac broke off from Great Trango and thundered down the access gully we had been regularly using to approach the tower. The ice was forced into the narrow couloir and exited as powder snow and ice travelling at high speed. As it exited the gully it spread its contents across a 5 kilometer square of glacier, including our Camp.
We first became aware of the avalanche as we were all woken up in our tents by a terrific wind pummeling the fabric. We had only gone to bed a few hours previously underneath a beautiful star lit sky. We all literally hung on to our tents as the wind tried to tear the structures from the ground. No-one was in our big mess tent so that was the first to go, the whole structure eventually landing over 500m from BC in the middle of the Glacier below us.
Next was the cook tent – but because our two cooks were sleeping inside, just as it was lifting Zahid grabbed hold of the tent poles. He became covered in spindrift and was quickly freezing with cold as everything around him was blown away.
The snow storm probably only lasted 30 seconds but as we shivered and screamed in our shelters it seemed like an eternity.
Once the avalanche had passed we checked everyone and started to clear up. Only our individual tents remained intact – everything else was destroyed – BC literally looked like a bomb had hit.
Conclusion – Trango had definitely had the last word. It was time to go !

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Answer to our quiz.

Our quiz has ended and we have a winner. Infact i should say we have two winners because there were two possible answers…..




The ‘Towering Inferno’ is one and Mr R from Chagny in France was the first to email with this answer. The second answer given by the Polish climber Patryk Rozecki was ‘none’ because we didnt have a TV, not a Plasma or even an LCD. It was a fake photo that we had gréât enjoyment in posing for and preparing.
We also enjoyed the replys that gave us some feedback about playing strip poker instead of watching our fake TV ☺.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


Over the last few days we have been to hell and back – both emotionally and physically – as we have battled with iced-up ropes, -25C températures, altitude sickness and frozen feet. It hasn’t been pretty, especially the physical effect on the team, but I am really happy to report that not only are we back down in one piece, with the same number of fingers and toes as when we left BC, but morale is still High. And it needs to be because already we have another challenge to overcome ; following the terrorist attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamambad on 22 September, British Airways have cancelled all flights into and out of the capital – INDEFINITELY ! A BA spokesman told me yesterday this could be for as long as until the end of 2008 ! So just getting home is now a real adventure.
So what happened on Trango ? Gaz and David left at midnight on 20th September to fix 3 pitches above Sun Terrace, our previous high point. The rest of the team followed 4 hours later. Our sole aim was to establish a camp on Sun Terrace.
In brief Gaz and David struggled just getting to Sun Terrace as all fixed ropes were frozen in place, some even burried deep within the ice.

Ice on rope

Jumaring was both exhausting and dangerous – jumar clamps dont work well on ice ! As the couple ascended, the risk of sliding the full length of the roped sections – distances of 60 meters in places – was ever present.

An erect rope!

They persevered but once on the headwall above Sun Terrace Gaz only managed to lead one pitch bécause the cracks were full of ice and temps were down to -20C with wind chill. The second half of the pitch was climbed in a horizontal hailstone Storm. At the belay Gaz and David were fully shivering.

Meanwhile the rest of us were having an épic just trying to get the haul bags to Sun Terrace. At one point Pierre was hauling a bag in the most exposed point on the shoulder below the Terrace – with windchill it was at least -25C and even though he was wearing an himalayan down jacket and working physically very hard he became almost hypothermic. Eliza above him was in worse shape. Her down jacket and full gore-tex suit were simply not enough protection. She became physically exhausted. We only just managed to avoid her getting hypothermia and frostbite by getting her into a tent on the shoulder fast. It took Pierre a good hour of massage to get the feeling back into her toes and that night she was close to vomiting because of the altitude.
Denis and I battled away below to get the rest of the kit up to Sun Terrace and we were both feeling the effects as well. Extreme cold and exhaustion are a deadly combination and I was fast realising the remaining 20 pitches to the summit were becoming an impossible objective.

By the time both tents were pitched, David and Gaz had descended from the wall. We had two TNF Moutain 25 Tents designed for 2 people and we were 3 people which would keep us warmer but maybe less relaxed. Even at sea level such tight conditions would not have been fun. At just below 6,000m., in sub zéro temps I knew it was not going to be a fun night.
I simply did not realise how knackered Gaz was. He seemed okay when he reached us. I made a hot brew of noodles for Denis, Gaz and myself. He took two spoonfuls and retreated inside his sleeping bag. It was around 4pm. That was the last either Denis or I heard from him that night.
David led the mixed and difficult pitches on the headwall that joined to the start of the first hard hand cracks on the route proper. David is perhaps the strongest member of our team, and definitely one of the most motivated. Yet even he said by the time he reached his tent he was close to collapse. That night it snowed again and the temps dropped to around -30C.

21st September

Sun Terrace

We all passed a bad night each coping with their individual problems. In my case it was trying to keep my insulin from freezing and my glucometer (blood sugar tester) warm enough so I could regularly test during the night to ensure my sugar levels did not drop too low – a night time hypo in thèse conditions would have been disastrous.
We were all up and out of our ice tents by 7am and as the sun came up I started to get feedback from the rest of the team. The consensus was not good. Whether it was altitude sickness, insufficient winter clothing and equipment or simply that it was just too damn cold, we were all feeling very weak and lacking sufficient motivation to continue.
I thought back to previous trips like Baffin Island in 1999, when I spent 18 days on a Big Wall in -20C temps, or a new route on Shishapangma (8,013m.) with Steve Venables in ’88, or a new route in the Bugaboos when after 4 days alpine style on the biggst alpine wall in the Rockies my partner Warren and I were fully paralysed from a lightning strike. But all I could say was that whatever had been my expériences prior to Trango, right now I was simply not physically or mentally prepared for this.
I knew this tower had been climbed in a day (and by an old climbing partner of mine – Silvo Karo), and everyone had said after two 2 weeks at Trango Base Camp you will have achieved all of your objectives ! But the botom line was that we were banging our heads against an ice wall and the best and safest option was for us all to descend.

Jerry thawing the tent poles.

We felt we were aproaching the zone where we would begin to make dangerous mistakes, the face was covered in a thin layer of powder snow from last night and even though this morning was clear and the sun was fully on the face the snow and definitely the ice in the cracks were not melting. The face was simply not in condition and we had neither the energy, time or equipment for a winter seige.

Frozen Wall.

The slow descent was greatly speeded up when we reached the base of the slabs leading to Sun Terrace. From a little pinacle we had an uninteriuppted view straight down to the access gully below. I said to Pierre and Gaz we had to toss the haul bags. I had done this before on other Big Walls and I knew the bags would survive if loaded and packed carefully. This was achieved and then Gaz balanced on this lofty perch as we prepared the cameras.

The haul bags plummeted down over 300 meters, and after hitting snow the next bounce took each of the bags at least another 10 to 15 meters horizontally. All three eventually came to rest half way down the gully – all contents intact. Result !
We reached BC around 7pm. The team was fully wasted but we were all in one pièce.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Last Chance

Well it looks like this is gonna go right down to the wire. With the recent weather forecast just in we are just gonna have to commit to the mountain and push on whatever the weather brings. The forecast is very mixed with half good days and half snow, but by being on the mnt we should be able to snatch any good conditions that come along and go higher.
The plan is that David and i will leave this evening at 12 midnight. This should land us at the top of the fixed ropes on the sun terrace by midnight. We will then climb and fix as many pitches above and then return to the Sun terrace to meet the rest of the team who by then will have established camp. The afternoon and next day is expected to be heavy snow, which we will sit out. After we will go for the Snow Ledge and the next day the top.
In about 4 or 5 days we should be back in BC and ready for home.

Last Chance

Well it looks like this is gonna go right down to the wire. With the recent weather forecast just in we are just gonna have to commit to the mountain and push on whatever the weather brings. The forecast is very mixed with half good days and half snow, but by being on the mnt we should be able to snatch any good conditions that come along and go higher.
The plan is that David and i will leave this evening at 12 midnight. This should land us at the top of the fixed ropes on the sun terrace by midnight. We will then climb and fix as many pitches above and then return to the Sun terrace to meet the rest of the team who by then will have established camp. The afternoon and next day is expected to be heavy snow, which we will sit out. After we will go for the Snow Ledge and the next day the top.
In about 4 or 5 days we should be back in BC and ready for home.

Last Chance

Well it looks like this is gonna go right down to the wire. With the recent weather forecast just in we are just gonna have to commit to the mountain and push on whatever the weather brings. The forecast is very mixed with half good days and half snow, but by being on the mnt we should be able to snatch any good conditions that come along and go higher.
The plan is that David and i will leave this evening at 12 midnight. This should land us at the top of the fixed ropes on the sun terrace by midnight. We will then climb and fix as many pitches above and then return to the Sun terrace to meet the rest of the team who by then will have established camp. The afternoon and next day is expected to be heavy snow, which we will sit out. After we will go for the Snow Ledge and the next day the top.
In about 4 or 5 days we should be back in BC and ready for home.

Thursday, 18 September 2008


Check out how we are relaxing in basecamp, we have all the mod cons. Phone, Laptop and even TV !!! The only problem is we are watching this film for the 3rd time !!!! Ahhh its time for dinner, the delicious smell of our goat is cooking, we are sad to see our goat Stephanie go.
Luckily tomorrow a porter will arrive who started three days ago from Skardu with new DVDs and petrol for our generator.

The Millet Fleece will go to the first person who responds with the correct answer to :-

For more infos about the expédition check out,,

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

The not so sunny terrace.

Gaz regaining the high point in better conditions.

15th sept.
Denis, David and I left BC at 04.00hrs for 2 days. Our aim was to fix rope to Sun Terrace, and the official start of our route Eternal Flame. We had only 5 pitches to fix, something that would normally take one day max to achieve. But because the route is now effectively in winter conditions with a lot of iced up cracks, powder snow everywhere and cold it took us until 5pm on the second day plus the help of Gaz and Pierre to achieve our objective.
The long slow slog up from BC to the Col took over 4 hours and over 1000m of height gain. Sacks pretty light, around 10Kg. I had eaten to much at BC and felt aweful – 3 dumps later and my body started to settle down !
Once we passed through the Col and got onto the fixed rope the temps went up a little. I started going up the fixed rope with only three layers on my legs (gore-tex, fleece and schoeller climbing trousers, and upper torso (base layer, merino wool, and gore-tex jacket). We got to the High point on the ropes pretty quickly. My only problem was keeping my insulin from freezing. I have two pens full of slow and fast acting insulin. I keep them in a fleece pouch which I put in a Pocket in my fleece jacket. This gets in the way of my rucksack harness, camera and all the climbing gear I need to ascend the ropes with. The glucometer (my blood tester) I wear in a fleece pouch around my neck so no probs there. On a normal day I test my blood around 10 times, which involves pricking my finger, and feeding a drop of blood onto a small 1cm long strip connected to my Accu-Chek device which is about 7cms by 3cms. The result is fast, 5 seconds, then according to the reading I eat (if too low) or inject insulin (if too High).
David led off from the High point - an horendous overhanging ice chimney full of body sized loose blocks. Denis and I were directly underneath him so very worried if he dislodged a block. This half pitch took over two hours to lead, David hanging by his ice axes, me hanging by my nerves ! By the end I was covered in powder snow and with David drenched in sweat which quickly froze – I was not sure who was in a beter state!
The next pitch was the same but shorter, except David had to exit a very tight, narrow chimney, his back resting hard against a wall running with water. This time it was his turn to get wet with water. The pitch emerged onto the true shoulder and so by 14.00hrs we were in the sun – at last .
The day was going fast and I shouted at David to watch me as I clambered onto the slabs that led to sun terace. I hit soft snow lying on granite slabs and only managed to make upward progress by compacting the snow and resting my knees on thèse placemnts and literally crawling up. Imposible to protect, with heart in my mouth, I reached the belay, my two daughters fixed firmly in my mind.
I raped off and we headed down to our tiny two man tent just below the col. This was not a pleasant night. First we had to clean out the tent which was full of betodine from a sachet left by the team, the night before. Then somehow the three of us managed to squeeze into this tiny tent, Denis staying outside till it was dark doing a gréât job of brewing up hot drinks and mugs of 2 minute noodles. The first one he produced he forgot to add the tiny satchets of flavouring in his haste to get us hot food. We soon changed this.

Pierre on a mixed pitch M5 one of the few pitches in good condition.

At 20.00hrs we did our radio call to BC. We arranged that Elisa, Piere and Gaz would come up tomorw to haul bags to Sun Terace as we continued to fix line to the Terrace. We realised things were getting very close in terms of time as we have less than 10 days to climb the whole route now. I suggested we join forces and all climb Eterrnal Flame rather than Gaz, Piere, Denis and I attempt Eternal Flame and David and Eliza try the Slovenian route. This of course still needs a big rethink. David wanted to talk this thru with Eliza at BC. He could not phone Eliza diect as her sat phone at BC had no ring tone. But he managed to send an SMS via his sat phone to a friend in Polandm, who then emailed Eliza in BC and she then phoned David. Technology!!
After loads of heavy polish we got down to the serious business of trying to sleep cramped in down, gore-tex, nylon and fleece !

16th sept.
Up at 6am, and soon we were joined by Gaz and Piere at 7am after a 4am start. Eliza had tried but soon got sick on the walk up the gully so had to go down. The guys were amazed she had even set out as she was coughing and spluttering so much.
Denis , David and I started up the fixed lines, whilst Piere and Gaz struggle with two huge haul bags conatinging two tents, sleeping bags, food and fuel . Each bag weighed around 40Kg and it took the whole day to get them up to Sun Terace –a huge effort !!
David and Denis led the last slabby pitches up to Sun Terace, Fr,6c run out covered in sleet and light snow ! Nice one Denis ! Meanwhile I waited two pitches below sorting out kit. I checked my blood sugar and found it really high – 22 mmols. I was woried as this can lead to ketoacidosis. I injected 5 units and carried on with the ropes. I started to feel really worried and felt I had to get down to a big snow belay 60m. below. I sorted the abseil ropes and rushed down. Landing on the Small ledge I tested to find I was 2mmols ! My panick attack had warned me in time. I cried out loud as I munched my way through two High5 enery bars and 3 gels. As my sugars started to rise Pierre reached me and I hugged him. The end of a nasty expérience !
Jerry enjoying the snow!

The forecast is bad now for the next 3 days so we have decided to descend.
We all got back down to BC around 21.00hrs. The end of a 20 hour day for Pierre and Gaz. We were absolutely knackered but very happy to have established camp at Sun Terace. Above the route looks fantastic and dry. Now all we need are a couple of good days and maybe we can summit.

Looking up the last pitch below the Sun Terrace

Monday, 15 September 2008

Big Day

It looks like Jerry, Denis and David are only a pitch below the sun terrace, so tomorrow we leave at 4am for a big day. All the way back up to the start of the route then a full day of hauling gear for the six of us to the sun terrace. The next day we are expecting a few more days of bad weather so it will be crucial that we get our gear to the terrace. I think that tomorrow could be a make or break day.


Sunday, 14 September 2008

Past the impasse!!

The 4am start was perfect. A fast and easy walk up the couloir and we were at the coll by 8am. A quick jumar and the still snowy slab was in view. Finally i managed to find a few foot holds out right and i set off. The pitch was a combination of ice, snow and waterfall. I managed to climb it free with an ice axe to clear the snow but it took about 3hrs for only 35m of gain. I was soaked!!
Looking down on my hardest 4b ever.

Pierre followed and tried the mixed pitch, the weather began to change and near the top he came down and with freezing feet we retreated to ABC 2 just below the coll. A long night was spent with three people in a two person tent in really cold conditions.
Using dinner to warm my feet.

The weather this morning was bad again with snow plastering the walls around us.

This mornings view!!

We waited a few hours and then returned to BC. Tomorrow Jerry and Denis will leave again at 4am and try to push through to the Sun Terrace.


Saturday, 13 September 2008

Team hits impasse below Sun Terrace

We all went up three days ago to fix rope to Sun Terrace (The Shoulder) and establish a high camp there. On 11th Sept after Denis climbed a very tough Fr.6c+ wall which was running with water, he and I reached an impasse at the start of an easy 4b rock slab. Trouble was this slab was covered in snow and impossible to climb in this state. The snow was not strong enough to hold any weight. We tried every option like traversing, and jumaring old in-situ fixed rope to our left, but it seemed the only solution would be to place bolts every meter for 15 meters. We did not want to do this so we all retreated to BC allow the sun to melt the snow. We arrived back at BC around 6pm on the 11th tired, depressed and worried that we would not climb this huge and magnificent monolith. Yesterday was spent drying out kit and recovering and today at 4am Gaz, Pierre nd Eliza went up to try and work the pitch again. The short rest was needed. Pierre had two badly blistered toes, Eliza cannot feel the toes in her left foot, Gaz had a swollen knee after a rock hit him on descent, and David is sick with chest pains and cannot breath well. He is currently being treated with a course of aspirin. Because Pierre, our doctor, wanted a second opinion on David’s condition he contacted the French organization IFREMONT by satellite phone. This company offers 24 hr medical advice and support to expeditions anywhere in the world – a great facility!

Basically the whole route on Trango is in bad condition with a lot of snow on easy slabs. We need to try and reach Sun Terrace and from there the route gets a lot steeper and so hopefully no snow. The good news is that the weather forecast is fine until next Wednesday so this should allow us time to reach the shoulder. Bearing in mind the route up to the shoulder in good conditions can take as little as 3 hours!!

Denis and I are raring to go and together with David we are waiting at Base Camp with radio calls to the climbing team every 4 hours to check progress. To date my diabetes has been okay, although I am purposely keeping my blood sugar levels around 25% higher than normal so I don’t have any hypos. In order to do this I often lay awake up to 2 hours after everyone else is asleep to ensure my sugar levels are stable and not dropping too fast. If they did I could have a nighttime hypo. I share a tent with Gaz and he as well as the whole team know how to deal with a nighttime hypo. But I still don’t want to run the risk. The other night I got it completely wrong and around 22.00hrs, 2 hours after dinner, I found my blood sugar levels way too high – around 19mmols. The norm is 5mmols. So I injected more insulin. Then they dropped too low, too quickly and so I had to start eating again, even though my stomach was full. I eventually got to sleep around 02.00hrs! What I am finding is that my fast acting insulin (I take two types each day – up to 20 units of slow acting insulin, and up to 15 units of fast acting insulin) is taking a lot longer to take affect, but once it does it is much stronger than back at home. C’est la vie!


Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Nice Weather Coming

Always remember which way around your gloves go!!!

The last few days have been slow. Lots of snow, walks along the glacier looking for footprints and fun trundling boulders. But at last we have a weather window on the way. Tomorrow morning we go back up to ABC and then Thurs to Sat the forecast is good. So hopefully by the end of the week we will have been to the summit of Trango.

Trango looking like a massive icicle

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Another early start and it was back up the gully with more equipment. This time the 1000m ascent was a lot easier and we soon reached ABC. We pitched our tents at an altitude of around 5000m, and then pushed on up the continuation gully to Pierres high point from the previous day. 

Jerry and i dropped our kit and started the approach to the climb, the first 30m are up a steep ice gully on an old fixed line and over a jammed block. I led this not really knowing the condition of the fixed line and once at the top replaced it with some of our static. The top of the gully gives you access to the South Col. As you stand astride the col to your right you look back down the gully towards the Trango Glacier and to the left the Dunge Glacier. A 40 foot traverse on loose flakes above a steep ice shoot leads to the first belay of the Slovenian route. I fixed the static to the belay, looked up at the first pitch, down to the glacier below and took a deep breath wishing that the weather window will come sooner than predicted. With moves already in my mind from only a few minutes looking at the first pitch it was time to head down to ABC to sleep.

ABC is situated at the head of a massive gully, with room for possibly 5 tents under a huge boulder which protects you from any rockfall. We had a nice evening eating noodles, taking photos and taking in the view. The night wasnt too cold but i had made the mistake of taking only a very thin mat and i could feel every stone under me.

We awoke to a dusting of snow and after a quick breakfast it was back up the gully to the col with more gear. A quick repack and we hauled a couple of bags to to the start of the route. We have been getting forecasts from Metteo France and the next few days we are expecting snow, so all this work is in préperation for the weather window that we are expecting soon. As we finished our haul the sun was shining on the wall, so Dénis and myself geared up quickly and began to climb.

Within minutes it was snowing, but with frozen feet i led the first pitch up a well protected crack that is given 7a+ on the topo, even with the exposure, altitude and cold it only felt about E4 6a. Denis led through and at the next belay we fixed the ropes and abseiled off. By now i was shivering and couldnt really move my jaw due to the cold so i was glad of the plan to return to BC to wait for the weather to turn. Up hère it is amazing how fast you can go from being warm to being freezing. Its another world of risk and commitment to climb a free route, it has taken 12 days from leaving the UK till the climbing i did yesterday. It is a long way from the walk in to Stanage !

Last night we got the forecast again, we are expecting around a meter of snow over the next three days !! The winds up high are fast though and should stop the snow from settling on the tower. We are expecting a good weather window soon and we are ready to go, hopefully there will be no avalance risk after the snow fall.

Another excitement has taken over BC though, as last night we had snow leopards in camp. Our cook and guide saw two adults and a cub around 50m from the tents, they shone their lights but they came closer. It was only the noise of the stove that scared them off in the end. This beautiful and very rare animal has only ever been filmed once. We found their tracks in the mud by the lake this afternoon and tonight we might be lucky enough to see them.


Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Base Camp

Sept 2nd

Another early start at 5am but this time the team were totally psyched because we knew by the end of the day we would finally have reached Base Camp and be close to our objective – Trango Tower ! We would not be disappointed even after waiting over 8 months for this day.

I had managed to collect some ice off the glacier as we apparoacged our camp last night. This i put straight into my freezer back to keep my insulin supplies cool. Insulin needs to be kept at fridge température and the +35C conditions we had been experiencing over the last few days had been freaking me out. But as we started the last day to base camp i felt much beter.

Lunch stop was a lovely rocky camp High above the main Baltor Glacier after a walk through juniper trèes, the smell of which reminded Pierre and I of Corsica.

A steep uphill hike folowed and suddenly we were on the edge of the Trango Glacier. I started getting my usual BC urge and legged it across this famous river of ice with views of Trango Tower getting stronger and larger with every step. Just as we left the glacier we were suddenly in front of our access gully, the top of which is 4800m …….there it was – Trango Tower !

5 minutes later and there was Base Camp, a beautiful setting right by  a calm glacial lake with smooth granite slabs creating an impressive back wall.

Stunning views surounded us – Uli Biaho, Great Trango, Trango Monk – walls and walls and walls of grey/orange granite. A rock climber nirvana – and our home for the next 4 weeks !

We paid and tipped the porters leaving them with a rousing chorus of Frere Jacques led by Pierre, our French Doctor. We pitched our tents and started sorting gear, only to be rudely interupted by an aweful sight – to celerbrate our arrival our Pakistan guides said that it was tradition to slaughter a goat. Our two hairy friends who had accompanied us since Skardu were split up and one was led away to killing rock. The goat was quickly sliced and diced but we were all saddened to learn a very young live kid was found inside. It is a very différant life in Pakistan and even harder in this land of rock and ice.

After our hearty goat dinner we packed our bags for tomorows carry to Advance Base on Trango and crashed out around 10pm – those who needed it full of pain killers to stop the inévitable haedaches –we were now living at 4,000m.


Sept 3rd

Another early start at 6am– breakfast of chappattis,  omlettes, and porridge all washed down with galons of milky tea, we were off by 6.30am

 The approach gully to Trango is pretty legendary- surounded by huge towering walls and capped wih hanging séracs – large lumps of ice that can fall at any time we ascended with caution. Around 9am a huge CRACK had us all scurying for cover as a big lump from high up on the NW face of Great Trango. I thought my number was up but in an instant realised that the few tons of snow and ice that was falling seemingly straight towrds us was dropping harmlessly into a side gully. We continued on ……. Cautiously !

We reached ABC – a huge boulder –around midday and then a really hard pullup to our final destination for today – a rock block at 5,000m just underneath the col that was the start of the technical climbing. We were all feeling the altitude by now acentuated by the fierce sunlight. It was time to drop our gear and descend to BC. 

Monday, 1 September 2008


We have now had two days of treking. If there wasn’t an aim at the end of this walk then i would probably have gone mad already. After the excellent weather of the first few days we have been walking under an overcast sky. The downside is we have seen absolutely nothing for most of the time and the upside is that because it has been cool we have made really good time.

Today we made it from last nights camp to Paiju in around 5hrs and at last the clouds have begun to lift. After a few hours we were greeted by the fantastic view of the Uli Biaho group and The Catherdral Spires. 

The Catherdral Spires mark the entrance to the Trango Glacier and sit at the foot of the Trango Group. Tomorrow we will walk on the Baltoro Glacier and have about a 1000m height gain to reach base camp.

Eagle at camp

Tonight we have been drooling over the various topos we have and discussing how to approach the climb. Denis and Eliza have been planning how to use their footage for a DVD and the most worrying moment occured at dinner when our Doctor, Pierre offered to check our prostates for free !!! But only as a reward for climbing Trango.


Paiju,le 1 er septembre 08

Aujourd`hui superbe trek et premières vues des aiguilles de Trango et de Biafo, pas encore de notre objectif, il faudra attendre demain et le camp de base.

Premières discussions autour de la stratégie a adopter, l`acclimatation, les portages vers le camp de base avancé..

Jerry est en forme et semble maitriser son diabète…

David n`en finit pas de prendre des photos,

Elisa et dénis filment à plein régime,

Gaz, en forme, marche a fond pour se faire la caisse ; il est tous les jours le premier aux camps, et se répète la chanson des Bangles « Eternal Flame ».

Saturday, 30 August 2008

More Driving

When you launch into your second full day of driving you soon begin to realise how big the mountains around us are. Another full day, leaving at 6am and arriving in Skardu around 7.30pm where the drive was fantastic again, more spectacular and exciting roads. The first treat of the day was the view of Nanga Parbat 8125m, this is the first time i have seen an 8000m peak. You view it from the road at 1200m and the height gain to the summit from hère is probably the steepest on the planet. After we fought off the trinket sellers our next stop was one of the most unique places on the planet, a Small monument marks the point where you can stand and view the three highest mnt ranges in the World. The Karakorum, The Himalaya and The Hindu Kush. Further down the road we finally left the KKH and still following the The Hindus river we finally arrived in Skardu. We put our gear in the rooms at the Masherbrum Hotel and set off for a mini adventure around the bazar. 

After dinner we had to repack, the gear was broken down in 25kg chunks for our porters to carry.


A later start today and by 9am we were on the road in our new vehicles. A few hours shot by on the tarmac and then we left the road to begin our bumpy expérience. The scenery was gradually getting more and more impressive as was the road. Lunchtime brought us all back to the reality of life and how lucky we all are, we met with a man who tolds us of his sore neck and asked if we had a doctor. 

Pierre is and after a few questions he knew he probably suffered from Huntingtons Chorea, the neck soreness was due to his inability to control his movements all the time. With no money to travel to see a doctor the most we could do for him was to give him some painkillers and hopefully he will have  some sleep filled nights. We left the man with a smile after showing him some photos of him with his son and promissed to get him one. Back on the road and after a few fantastic only just standing bridges crossed and a few river crossings our guide Sherbaz , with a gréât big smile on his face happily informed us that the most dangerous part of getting to basecamp was just around the corner! As with most of the roads in the mountains they cross quite improbable terrain, criss crossing slopes of rubble that are always prone to collapse. Infact only a few days before the road was closed. We passed numerous small teams who spend all year keeping the road open. The last section was amazing, a zip zag line up a steep gully provided us with an excellent display of real 4x4 driving.

At last after another 30 minutes we arrived at our first camp in Askole, with the chickens in the pot, our tents pitched we settle into the usual mess tent discussions. Tomorrow we begin our first day walk in……..only 9hr. 

And now for a word from our French bloggers.

Askole, le 30 Aout,

Encore un départ matinal, en direction d`Askole point de départ du trekking.

Sur la piste défoncée, nous sommes tous impressionnes par la performance, de nos chauffeurs, devers, guets, ponts suspendus, lacets...

A midi, un repas est pris dans un village, les villageois ont appris que un médecin était de la partie, la consultation commence. On me présente  un homme de 45 ans, il en paraît 20 de plus….Il se plaint de mouvements amples qui l`empêchent de se déplacer, je n`ai rien a lui proposer de plus que de se rendre à Skardu et d en parler a un médecin, je pense qu`il souffre d`une chorée de Huntington…(le pronostic est sévère).

A 16 heure nous rejoignons le camp et plantons les tentes, demain matin nos 80 porteurs nous rejoindrons de bonne heure, les charges sont déjà reparties.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Honey to the rescue

Today was a long day, we awoke at 5am and now it is midnight. Most of the day has been spent driving/rallying along the spectacular Karakorum Highway. The KKH is over 1200km long and goes from just outside Islamabad through the Himalaya into China and during its construction over 600 lives were lost and its construction is often compared with the building of the Pyramids. After rising above the plains the driving became faster with numerous blind bend overtakes  and teetering on the edge of some impressive drops.

As we neared our planned lunch stop i could tell that Jerry was either tired or lacking in sugar. As a diabetic he always has a constant battle to keep his sugar levels under control. Today with such a long journey he missed judged his levels and began to go Hypo Glycemic. Luckily we brought him back to his sensés with some honey and a twix. Next time though if he carries on with the bad jokes we may make him suffer longer.

Back on the road it looks like the team are getting on gréât and as the drive continues i am sure we will develop some gréât frienships. The second half of  todays travel was the most dangerous, first up we encounter the landslides. Numerous storms wreak havoc on this road and it is a constant uphill battle to keep it open. The next challenge was to get through a police checkpoint without a correctly filled out permit. After some worried discussions we made it through. The final hurdle was a long one, with a number of random delays we were behind schedule by about 3hrs, with darkness coming we entered bandit country and with our driver and guide worried the speed increased and the blind bends came faster.  Without any further issues though we arrived at the Panorama hôtel in time for our next curry!




Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Islamabad, 27th August 7am

This first day in Islamabad and we have been booked in to the Shalimar Hotel. We met the Jasmine tour group and we
 made the final trekking fee payments and paid our helicopter bond. We went into
 the city to buy food for the wall and tomorrow we rise at 5am for 12hrs car, after a second day of driving we will
 arrive in Skardu. The sights and sounds of a new country are always fantastic, it reminds me a little of Madagascar. The
 way they make bricks at the side of the road and children recycling plastic for little money. Today we have really
 only seen commercial Pakistan and tomorrow The Karakorum Highway will take us to the

More news about Tomaz, he has left by plane to Skardu but the helicopter cannot take off yet due to the weather. Communication has been lost with their Base Camp probably due to a lack of battery power.

On a more cheerfull note i will leave you with one thought....How good are goats at balancing?


Just Landed

We have just landed in Islamabad. We hear it is snowing in base camp. We hear this because we met Tomas Humar on the plane. He is on a rescue mission to rescue 3 Slovenian climbers from Mustagh Tower. The lost team is also like us a Millet expedition project; one person is presumed dead, one unsure and one descends. We may go to help as we have a doctor with us. We have so much respect for what Thomas is doing, he has not slept for two days and is flying straight to base camp.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Finally we are off!

Yes we did it! 6 months of stress, planning, and organisation involving a heady mixture of Polish, French, English and general bullshit has led to this - Starbuck's, Terminal 4, Heathrow! As ever with an international team of crazy climbers just getting here was epic. Pierre and Jerry nearly came to grief during a super fast alpine drive to Lyon airport involving a collision with a fox, and a mini hypo (Jerry is a diabetic!). David and Eliza just made it through customs and had to take a tent, huge silver camera case, plus two large rucksacks all as hand luggage. They were the last to join us and now we are 6 - ready for Pakistan and that beautiful golden spire of granite -Trango - the free dream is about to start!

Finally we are off!

Monday, 25 August 2008

The Adventure Begins

The packing and planning is over and now its time to sleep. Tomorrow I take a coach to Heathrow at 6.30am and the long Journey to Base camp begins. We will be there within a week. My flight leaves Heathrow at 6pm and i join the rest of the crew who are taking it from Lyon. I think tomorrow when i am finally on the flight i will be able to relax, all the tensions of the last few weeks will hopefully be gone. Following in the footsteps of Brown, Boysen, Gullich, Albert, Pritchard and Wainwright i think its time to go big and take up one of the greatest free climbing challenges on the planet.Trango here we come and with it the fulfillment of a childhood dream. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


Le jour du départ se rapproche...
Les coinceurs d'un côté, les cordes de l'autre, et les caméras et le choix précis des habits et plein de petites choses tout aussi importantes les unes que les autres. Nos partenaires, c'est la base de cette préparation minutieuse et qui nous garantit du matériel adapté!
Le RÊVE d'une paroi extraordinaire, mais aussi de celui de découvrir un pays avec les rencontres et les échanges avec ses habitants; et partir avec des Amis anglais, polonais, français, c'est cela aussi le voyage...

Denis R

Monday, 18 August 2008

Mild Panic

Well most things seem to be going to plan. Only mild panic has set in, we only have 7 days until we leave and 4 post days  left. Last minute gear requests have been sent out and thankfully DMM and Petzl have come up with the goods. DMM supplied a zip line and Frank Bennett from Lyon sorted us out with a full Petzl bolting kit. Nice one chaps. Tomorrow i am off to shop for a few bits then in the afternoon i am gonna get packing. 

Thursday, 31 July 2008

The Count Down Begins....

Well we are less than a month until we leave for Islamabad. Last week i headed down to London and after a good mornings worth of queing i happily came away with a 45 day visa. Over the past few months i have been in charge of collecting team kit, with gear from DMM, TNF, High Five, La Sportiva and Metolius my Aunties garage has been a little treasure trove of shiny new equipment. As the pile has grown it has become more and more a worry about the garage getting broken into. No more though, over the last few days i have packed, wrapped and posted most of it to France. In fact around 100 KGs of kit was sent yesterday. The North Face happily stepped in here and paid for the shipping via UPS.....nice one TNF.

Hmmmmm......time to pack.

Gaz P

Friday, 11 July 2008

Trango 08 Intro

Welcome to the Trango 08 Free Dream Blog. The main aim of our expedition is to Free Climb The Eternal Flame route on The Nameless Tower in Pakistan. 1100m 35 Pitches ABO 7b+

Team members are Jerry Gore UK (Leader), Gaz Parry UK, Pierre Muller FR, Denis Roy FR, David Kaszlikowski PL and Eliza Kubarska PL.

We are still very much in the planning stages at the moment but our flights and trekking company have been booked and we will leave to Islamabad on the 26th August.