A mountain, two routes and a little anger
This does not happen often. Within days top climbers from Slovenia and the UK opened two challenging new routes on a shapely 6000-meter-peak in the Indian Himalayas. The 6515-meter-high Hagshu is located in the district of Kishtwar in the crisis-hit region of Kashmir. The Slovenians Marko Prezelj, Luka Lindic and Ales Cesen reached the summit on 30 September, after they had climbed for the first time through the steep north face of Hagshu. Then the Britons Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden opened a new route via the previously unclimbed north east face and stood at the top of the mountain on 6 October.
Blame lies with the IMF
Actually, Fowler and Ramsden had also planned to climb via the north face and had got the permit for that by the Indian Mountaineering Federation (IMF). But the IMF had also given the green light to the Slovenes, without each expedition being aware of the plan of the other. When Fowler and Ramsden arrived at Hagshu, Prezelj, Lindic and Cesen were already acclimatized and established on the British team’s planned line. Mick and Paul decided to turn to the north east face. After their return from the summit, they visited the Slovenian climbers at their advanced base camp. “They were visibly disappointed and annoyed that we had climbed “their route” before they could do it”, Prezelj writes in his expedition report. However, both teams agreed that the IMF was to blame, where apparently the one hand did not know what the other was doing. In the meantime, the anger of the Britons seems to have subsided. “Our climb of the north east face proved to be pleasingly memorable and together with a traverse of the mountain, provided a fine six day outing from base camp”, Fowler announced.
Four ascents by four routes
In 1989, the Hagshu was climbed for the first time by Pawel Jozefowicz and Dariusz Zaluski from Poland – but without permit. The British team of Robin Beadle made the first “legal” ascent a week later. Then the mountain region was closed for foreign climbers, due to the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan. In 2010, the Indian government opened more than a hundred peaks in Jammu and Kashmir regions, including Hagshu. “Few mountains have an ascent history as curious as Hagshu”, says Mick Fowler. “ There have been four ascents to date and – two within days of each other in 1989 and two within days of each other 25 years later. And all of them have been by different lines.”
Fowler and Ramsden form an experienced climbing team for many years. In 2003 and 2013, the Britons were awarded the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar” of the mountaineers. The Slovenian Marko Prezelj also got it, in 1992. Let’s see if next year’s Piolet d’Or jury will nominate one of the first ascents on Hagshu. Or even both?
Date29. October 2014 | 16:30