Rain and Rock in Pakistan
Aug 16th 2011
Pat Goodman, Matt McCormick and Will Meinen recently finished a month of weather watching in Pakistan. For the second year in a row McCormick traveled to Pakistan in the hopes of climbing the southwest pillar of K7, and for the second year in a row the weather did not cooperate. Instead the trio settled on a new route on a previously unclimbed pillar, Fida Brakk (ca. 5350m), which they named for Fida Hussein, their expedition cook.
The 1050-meter Jenga Spur (V+, 5.11R, A0), proved somewhat harder in practice than it had seemed from below. McCormick told Alpinist that they had foreseen being able to "rip it, in a long day, maybe twenty hours." Instead of easy simul-climbing, they were immediately confronted with sustained 5.10, intermixed with difficulties that reached the upper limits of 5.11. Given their assumptions about the route, they had each brought only a handful of bars and energy gels. But Meinen, luckily, decided to pack a bivy-sack and sleeping bag. Meinen's last-minute decision was justified when the trio's slow progress resulted in spending a night mid-route. Nearly forty-eight hours after departing on a "one-day warm-up" the three successful climbers returned to camp.
When asked how they felt about not even attempting the K7 pillar, McCormick replied, "I wouldn't say I'm too fussed about it this year. It helps that we were able to do a new route. But you have to go with the expectation that there might be other factors that prevent you from doing what you want to do. I feel pretty successful about this trip."
Goodman offered this advice to others planning similar expeditions, "Always set goals as big as your dreams, understand your abilities and limits enough to stay safe, but you gotta try or you won't know."
This expedition was made possible with grants from the GORE-TEX Shipton-Tilman Grant and Copp-Dash Inspire Award.
Currently, another trio consisting of Kelly Cordes, Kyle Dempster and Hayden Kennedy is on their way to Pakistan to attempt the K7 Pillar. Both Goodman and McCormick went out of their way to thank the friendly and welcoming people of Pakistan. Goodman noted on his blog, "Will Meinen, being a Canadian, had to drive across the CN/US border to meet Matt and me, for our flight out of Boston. He said the customs officer at the gate was so harsh with disdain, in regards to his Pakistan Visa and travel plans, that it made his mother cry. What we found from the people of Pakistan was nothing but hospitality!"
Below is a video from Goodman of a warm-up climb he and McCormick did on the British Route of Naysser/Naissa Brakk.