Shipton Spire

Shipton Spire

  30 Days
Best Time:
June – September

 Zone:   Permited

Three miles across the Trango Glacier and just above the confluence of the North and South Hainabroq Glaciers was the elusive Shipton Spire. Shipton Spire stands two hours walk from Trango Towers Group on Upper Trango Glacier. It rises out of the massive glacial junction with its walls looking stunning and fierce. Many climbers from around the world are attracted by these rock towers. The climbing is hard but the rock quality is superb. On its major route a 29 pitch, 4,400 ft. big-wall with the pitch rated 6c, 7b and 7b+ certainly offer best technical climb one can expect on a Karakoram granite tower.  

New route opened 26/7-15/8/2001 by Mauro ‘Bubu’ Bole on the East Face of Shipton Spire (5850 m), a spectacular granite tower in the Trango valley, Pakistan. The three-man expedition consisted of Mauro Bole, his climbing partner Mario Cortese and the photographer/cameraman Fabio Dandri.

Where: Shipton Spire East Face (5850m), Pakistan
Altitude: Between 4500m and 5700m.
Grade: Almost always harder than 6c, some pitches 7c. One pitch 8a above 5000m. See topo
Length: 29 pitches, 1150m high

Getting there:
Islamabad – Skardu - Askoli (bus + jeep) , the small village that acts as the starting point for all trekking in the Baltoro region.  2 days trek leads to Paju, another day leads across a glacial moraine to Shipton Spire BC, a beautiful grassy triangle that manages to survive the onslaught of the glacier nearby.
Route description: 
Continuous and logical series of cracks and corners that take an obvious vertical line from the summit of Shipton Spire. 1150m long, it climbs the magnificent vertical and overhanging granite wall to the crest beneath the summit, where it joins up with the 1997 American "Nef des Fous". The unclimbed north faces of Shipton Spire (5885m) in the Uli Biaho Group of Pakistan's Karakoram. The big pillar on the left, ending at an obvious pointed top with a notch beyond, is the northeast pillar forming the far right side of the southeast face. The front face of the pillar is taken by the Slovak route, Prisoners of the Shipton (5.11d A3, 900m to the notch, Koller-Linek-Podrabradsky, 2005). Koller and Linek followed Ship of Fools to within 80 meters of the summit at WI 5+. The new Spanish route (A4+, 870m of climbing, Vidal, 2007) climbs close to the right edge of the pillar to reach the notch. In 2005 Gabo Cmarik and Dodo Kopold hoped to climb into the large hanging couloir on the north face from the rock rib on the right. Unfortunately, they were forced to retreat before reaching it, when Cmarik became ill with sunstroke. The ever-popular Shipton Spire (5885m) in Pakistan's Karakoram gained two new lines this summer: the first by a team of four Russians who took the full height of the southeast face, and the second a spirited solo effort by Spain's foremost female big wall climber, Silvia Vidal. She climbed the shorter but no less steep northeast pillar and did not continue to the summit. In August of that year these two Slovaks and Juraj Podrabradsky completed a line attempted the previous summer by Koller, Linek and, on that occasion, Gabo Cmarik. They reached the top of the vertical northeast pillar at a notch, where Ship of Fools (5.11 A2 WI 6, 27 pitches, 1300m, Ogden-Synnott, 1997) comes in from the left. Above, Koller and Linek continued up Ship of Fools (which follows the difficult mixed northeast ridge) before retreating 80 meters from the summit. As far as the notch and junction with Ship of Fools, the 900-meter Slovak route, Prisoners of the Shipton, gave difficulties of 5.11d and A3. Vidal fixed the first 200 meters of the wall to the right of Prisoners and then spent twenty-one straight days on the face in capsule style, making twenty solitary bivouacs before reaching the notch at ca. 5300 meters. Her route, Life is Lilac, didn't follow any strong features and therefore required continuous hard aid; several pitches of A4 and a crux of A4+, finishing with mixed climbing. Above, continuing toward the summit via Ship of Fools involves difficult mixed/ice climbing with long traverses. Vidal had already decided that this wasn't a good idea for a solo climber and was content to descend from the top of the pillar after 870 meters of climbing. During her stay at and above advanced base camp she was entirely alone and carried neither radio nor phone, commenting that it was "a great experience." Well over to the left the Russian team of Evgeny Korol, Andrey Muryshev, Sergey Nilkov and Denis Savelev also spent twenty days on their route during very much the same period as Vidal was climbing hers. The Russians originally planned to attempt the unclimbed south face of the Spire but found the approach up the glacier just too difficult and dangerous. Instead they switched to an independent line up available rock between Baltese Falcon (5.11 A4, 36 pitches, 1300m, Boyd-Child-Foweraker, 1996) and Women and Chalk (5.12d/5.13b, 29 pitches, ca. 1200m, Bole-Cortese-Dandri, 2001). The four Russians climbed capsule style up the southeast face, in the top section following a prominent right-facing corner/depression. They reached the top of the wall after enduring a full week of bad weather and having climbed pitches of 5.10d and A4. They then continued up the taxing mixed summit ridge to the highest point, which they reached on July 30. In all, thirty-two pitches were required for this 1300-meter route. Enjoy your upcoming events in Pakistan with Mashabrum Expeditions (your trusted adventure partner).