• Karakorum Intro

    Hey Everyone!  My name’s Ty and I’m a climber living in the mountains of northern Pakistan.  My bro, Matt, and I have been exploring the bouldering potential here since 2003 and started up a website to share some of the amazing areas we’ve found.  The site is KarakorumClimbing.com if you want to check it out.  It’s a work in progress (as most things are), but I thought I’d share a post from last year to give a brief glimpse into what climbing in Pakistan actually looks like.  Maybe you’ll even decide to come out for visit…

    Remember November

    November already seems like a long time ago.  It was definitely a good month for many reasons, but this blog is focused on climbing so I’ll stick with that.

    November’s climbing action started with Mark, Shady and I exploring a new area at the Riverside which has now been dubbed the Recovery Sector by Shady.  The Recovery Sector is a small cluster of boulders scattered across a dry plateau above the Indus River.  The boulders at Recovery aren’t very large, but there are definitely some fun routes.  We began by climbing an interesting little slab with some petroglyphs carved at the bottom.  Then we moved on to the Recovery Boulder where we managed to do 3 of the 5 routes that have now been established on the boulder.

    Mark on Red Bull Direct, a new route on the Recovery Boulder

    In mid-November, Laura, Reaiah and I traveled to Gilgit to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family.  About an hour from Gilgit, we met up with my bro, Matt, to do some climbing at Area 52.  I had only climbed there once before and it was Laura’s first time.  When we arrived, Mallo (Matt) was working on a crazy highball with an awkward jump start.    I had some pretty awesome bails from the jump start and didn’t get much farther than that, but Mallo almost pulled it off.  We filmed it so hopefully you’ll be seeing some of the footage soon.  From there we wandered over to a classic V3 called Happy Feet, which Laura was able to conquer after a few tries.  I managed to climb a strange bear-hug bulge next to Happy Feet before we moved to the next boulder, the Forge.  The Forge, at V10, is currently the most difficult route at Area 52, but there are plenty of double-digit projects waiting to be climbed.  The first move on the Forge is the crux and I was happy just to be able to get myself off the ground on the terrible underclings.  Mallo tried it a few times, but he had already climbed it and wanted to save himself for one of his projects.  Next I climbed the Tumor Arete, another amazing line on great slopers.  Then it was on to the project.  The crux involves a long throw to a shallow pocket and then heelhooking to grab a small crimp.

    Matt sticks the crux pocket on the project.

    I was never able to hang on to the pocket, but Matt almost managed to pull off the whole thing.  This was just one of many amazing projects still waiting to be climbed.  Area 52 probably has the highest concentration of hard, high quality routes in Pakistan and it was great to get a taste.

    While in Gilgit, we managed to climb a couple times at the Buddha Boulders which are hidden in a small valley about 20 minutes from town.  We started by filming a few of the classics and then moved on to a new route called Supper Dragen (the name of a Karate club nearby).  It’s somewhere in V9 or 10 range and Mallo had gotten the FA a few months earlier.   I had a hard time on several of the moves and only managed to do about half of the route, but I got Matt on film for his second ascent of the boulder.

    After celebrating Thanksgiving, I headed beck to Skardu with my family.  A few days later, Matt and his wife Aimee came out with bunch of friends from Gilgit.  Matt and Aimee were preparing to move back to the US to go to school and wanted one last climbing adventure in the Skardu area before leaving.  The weather was amazing the whole time they were out and we climbed a lot.  One day, we climbed at the Grater because it’s one of Aimee favorite places.  The ladies had a good time exploring and climbed some new routes, while Matt and I cheered them on and watched Reaiah.  Laura was able to finish off the day by climbing the area classic, a V3 on nice slopers.

    On another day we climbed at the Recovery Area because it had routes for everyone and potential for new ones.  We warmed up on a fun slab, crack and run-n-jump boulder where everyone was able to climb something.  Then the ladies went exploring while us guys had some fun on Mango Chatni, an awesome V8.  I was able to climb it again and Mark and Shady made good progress before they had to leave.

    Mango Chatni offers some resistance as Mark reaches for the next hold.

    From there, Matt and I wandered back over to the Recovery boulder and went to work.  Matt easily climbed the 3 established routes, but it took some effort for him to pull off the others.  The first one had a hard move to a really cool pinch and then a throw to the top of the boulder.  I couldn’t quite stick the pinch, but I’ll get it soon.  Another V9?  The second new route has a crazy start on a sidcecling.  There aren’t any footholds so you have to do a powerful heelhook to stay on the rock.  From there it’s a long reach to a good hold high on the face.  Both of us were able to top out and it is now called Chipkuli (Urdu for gecko) and is probably a V8.  We got video of these routes, so keep your eyes open for it here.

    The climbing highlight of the month came next.  A big group of us (I think there were 13 of us including 2 babies) made the 45 minute drive to the Bridge Boulders for a full day of climbing fun.  Matt and I have been visiting the Bridge Boulders since 2005 and every time we go we find more awesome routes to climb.  The potential is pretty much endless.  Because we wanted to maximize our time, we mainly stayed on developed routes so that everyone could climb something that suited their ability.  Aimee’s Boulder was the designated warm-up and everyone had a great time sampling the different routes.

    The crew enjoying one of the awesome highballs at the Bridge Boulders.

    After everyone had had their fill of Aimee’s Boulder, it was time for a challenge.  A classic V5, Raisin the Roof, was next.   Most of us guys managed an ascent and Laura and Aimee were both very close.

    Eli going for it on Raisin the Roof V5 while Matt gives some direction.

    Matt and I also managed to do the right variation to Raisin which is a V7.   From there we moved on to an beautiful unclimbed line that looked fairly easy, but ended up being a challenge.  After a few tries, Matt managed to unlock a sequence for the first ascent of a new V6.  I followed after him for the second ascent.  Again, we got some video which we hope to put on here soon.  Feeling strong and psyched, Matt felt like he was ready to attempt his long-time nemesis, the “Cave Project”.  We had found the project back in 2006, maybe earlier, and had tried it many, many times, but hadn’t been strong enough.  It’s a very clean line that follows a very steep arete on small edges and slopers for about 15 feet.  Matt showed me the beta for one of the crux moves to a small crimp and I surprised myself by getting the move after a couple tries.

    Sticking one of the crux crimpers on Prince of Persia.

    Now from the beginning.  Mallo looked super strong, but fell at the crux a couple times while I tried to remember the rest of the route.  Needing some extra inspiration, he jammed out with an Ipod and then took his shirt off.  As soon as he got on the rock, I knew it was over.  Killed it.  He made every move look easy and was soon celebrating on the top of the boulder.  I’d say it was the most inspiring climb I’ve seen him do and it was awesome to watch.  The Cave Project is now called Prince of Persia and lies somewhere in V12 range.  We are fairly confident that it is the most difficult route in Pakistan and are looking forward to more climbers giving it a shot.  I wasn’t able to get the second ascent, but did make more progress than I had before.  Anyway, stay tuned for video of Prince of Persia!  That was the end of a great day at the Bridge Boulders and of Matt and Aimee’s trip to Skardu.  They are now back in the States getting ready to start school.  Well done.

    That wraps up Remember November.  I hope you enjoyed the pictures and look forward  to seeing you out here!



    Ty Gordon

    I’m an American climber who lives and works in the rugged mountains of northern Pakistan. As unlikely as it may seem, Pakistan is a great place to call home and I hope to share that through the posts and pictures on this blog.

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Discussion 3 Responses

  1. April 26, 2011 at 6:36 am

    The bouldering looks great, and nice work on those hard problems. Very cool to have a perspective coming out of Pakistan–keep it coming.

  2. April 26, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Great pictures and story–I hope you can share those videos you mentioned sometime soon, too.

    The scenery there is hard to beat!

  3. April 27, 2011 at 7:09 am

    [...] Bouldering in Pakistan?? [...]

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