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Author: Igor Chaplinsky

Shingu Charpa North Ridge, Karakoram. New route in a five-day round trip.

Have you ever seen a beautiful route? Such as to bewitch at once and make a motion to climb it? For example, West ridge of Makalu? My experience suggests that not every mountain fascinates and makes one want to open a new route. It's like we care about a woman...

Nanga Parbat (8125m)



It's just a boyish behavior to fall in love at first sight in Ak-Su or Ushba that ascent does the honor of the axes of mountaineering. But when I, a 47-year man, saw the photo of Shingu Charpa via the Internet, I felt the familiar sense of adrenaline and got my breath caught for this extraordinary beauty.
Like a dinosaur the North ridge rises from a birchwood at about 4000 meters up to the snow cap at 5600 meters. It looks especially impressive viewed from Amin Brak.

Old boy



All the preliminary information about Shingu Charpa was that photo I had got via the Internet and a version given by Mikhail Sytnik, the known, but unliked by official mountaineering circles in Odessa.

Amin Brak (5850m)

Amin Brak (5850m) from 4500m

Green tower

All the rest there was my and my friend's adventurism. Having flied to Pakistan in the early July and paid to a travel agency $ 1000 we headed to our main goal. It took us a week to get BC.

Base camp



First on jeeps we got to Kande village along Skardu, and then trekked the Nangma gorge direct to the foot of Shingu Charpa where appeared in a pleasant base camp located at 3900 meters near a birch&willow grove and a spring water.



Spending the night at 4600

We made the ascent area and route reconnaissance and for ten days went round Shingu Charpa on all sides but did not find any logical, interesting and foremost safe descent route. Having looked very closely at absolutely vertical and smooth faces of Amin Brakk, the dream of b.a.s.e.-jumpers, we asked ourselves a tough question: pardon, but where is possible to free climb there?

The Wall

Dihedral 4600m

Bastion 4850-5050

Continuous "smithy", speedy bolt working. I'm not a vocal advocate of such ascents. Though more then 20 years ago, in 1984, we in a team led by the legendary Samoded opened a bolted line on Shaan-Kaya (Crimea) via the center of the wall. Twenty years later it was logically continued up to the summit by climbers from Odessa. Now it is one of the hardest routes in the Crimea and it can be free climbed in places.

Bastion 4850-5050

Bastion 4850-5050

Bastion 5050-5350

The side-face of Shingu Charpa North ridge and its East face were well seen from our base camp. The ridge presents a system of bastions (not less than four) and its top summit part is absolutely badly read from below.

Bastion 5050-5350

Bastion 5050-5350

Bastion 5050-5350. Andrey

East face is just magnificent, the real godsend to climbers with huge corners, chimneys, fissures. I could see at least 3-4 beautiful, absolutely independent routes apparently suitable for free climbing.

Bastion 5050-5350

Bastion 5050-5350

Bastion 5050-5350

Finally our trio started to climb:
Igor Chaplinsky,
Andrey Rodiontsev,
Orest Verbitsky.

Ascent: in Alpine style
. Fixed pro:
- pitons - 25.
- camalots - 8.
- friends - 8.
- chocks - 20.
- ice-screws - 3.
- dynamic ropes- 3.
- rocky hammers - 2.
- a small tent - 1.
- sleeping bags - 2.
- crampons - 1.
Food - 11 kg for 7 days.


Spending the night at 5350


Brief route description.
4050 - 4600mm - the ridge of average steepness 65 degrees, some pitches of 6a, 6b, 900 meters.
4600 - 4850mm - a 60-meter corner begins and goes under a plug lead further traverse to the left of the ridge getting altitude where we found a nice site under a tent.

Andrey and Orest


Andrey and Orest

4850 - 5050mm - a beautiful vertical bastion looked very terribly from below, but in fact with good surface, I recommend to climb the right chimney. 7a, 7b.
5050 - 5350mm - a bastion of 80 degrees with a wet corner in the beginning. Climb more to the right on snow "knife", spending the night behind the "knife" on a small site.

Andrey and Orest


5350-5600mm - the most unexpected and unsafe site with a lot of ice and mixed terrain, snow-ice mushrooms is climbed more to the right, some dangerous snow drifts.
Descent via ascent route took twodays. We tried to use natural relief, i.e. rocky ledges, left practically all pitons, set four bolts, and cut one rope for anchor loops.


Hotel in Islamabad
In conclusion I would like to bring into focus the advantages of Shingu Charpa North ridge climb. - First of all it is very beautiful. But could that retrieve the world?
- Altitude different 1550 meters, thus it is real «big wall».
- All the route can be free climbed!!!
- A lot of difficult climbing, mixed climbing in the upper part.

I would like to wish every success all the mountaineers, life, really fine, wonderful and many-sided, is going on in fact. What will I climb the next year? - I cannot say that now. May be something in South America, I would like to get to Amazonia. Or will visit Karakoram again... It seems to me a route on Shingu Charpa East face would appear one of the most difficult and extend with long sites for free climbing.
Well, go ahead all the hot-tempered and vexed by a restless desire for climb! Prefer to die rather than surrender. Reached the summit and touch the sky, be exhausted but descend and kiss the grass. It may be happiness means just that....

Affectionately yours, Igor Chaplinsky


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