The Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) confirmed that Alberto Inurrategi, Mikel Zabalza and Juan Vallejo spent a little over a month on the 6,050 metres high peak in Gilgit-Baltistan and scaled it on July 26.
The three climbers and their cameraman David Maeztu had to negotiate the ice during their climbing which was strenuous, technically difficult and dangerously unstable ascending from the base camp at 3,400 metres to the camp II at the height of 5,500 metres on the Big Wall.
“This is alpine climbing in the Karakoram, looking for cracks and rock tips that allowed us to climb up the vertical wall to the last 600 metres of ice, rock and snow leading to the top of Paiju Peak. They hang on their ropes for hours, thousands of feet above the ground, relaying only on the metal nails whose safety depends on the skills to fit them,” said ACP’s member executive council, Karrar Haidii.
He described how they had to scale down to sleep, scale back up the following day and so on, gained yards in the wall to find a point to move the
camp suspended along the wall with nails as high as 5,000 metres and higher.
According the ACP, Mikel Zabalza described the virgin tower as very hard technically. This tower has the distinction of having a downhill component with dangers of falling ice and sometimes rocks. One of those moments of dangers hit the team when a rock came down and hit Juan Vallejo’s left shoulder.
The climbers feared the worst but painkillers and an-ti-inflammatory from the emergency medicine kit were in the hammock camp and helped a little.
“Juan Vallejo was not able to last the long climb to the top of the tower with the snow and extremely vertical and fine edge,” said Karrar Haidri, explaining how a barrier of seracs (blocks of ice bigger than a house) falling chunks of ice continuously prevented access to the summit – 6,610 metres – of the Paiju Peak from that side.
Mikel Zabalza summed it up in these words: ‘It would have been suicide and absurd from the point of view of a mountaineer. The climb took a lot out of us in every way, physically and psychologically,” said one of the climbers in their report.
“We climbed to the very limit, the limit of our strength. We have rested almost nothing during the entire expedition and have come to the base camp with our last breath,” said Alberto Inurrategi.