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  2003 KOREA KUNYANG CHHISH EAST (7,400-M): FIRST ASCENT EXPEDITION


Post-expedition Report prepared by Faiz Ali, Mountain Guide and Executive Member of Alpine Club of Pakistan.

2003 KOREA KUNYANG CHHISH EAST ( 7,400-) FIRST ASCENT EXPEDITION

INTRODUCTION: Every year many mountaineering expeditions visit Pakistan. They are supposed to accompany a Liaison Officer deputed by Ministry of Tourism to assist them. Some of the expeditions also like to hire a Mountain Guide to assist them in Mountains. This summer (2003), I  found such an opportunity and was engaged as a Mountain Guide with Korean  Kunyang Chhish East (7,400-M) First Ascent Expedition from 1st May, 2003 to 20th June, 2003. Usually, Liaison Officers are supposed to submit post-expedition report to their respective nominators.  However, keeping in view important aspects of the expedition, this report is being written for information and guidance of concerned quarters and interested people in the world of mountaineering.
BEFORE THE EXPEDITION: Kunyang Chhish East (means hidden peak) is a virgin one. This peak has even never been attempted by any expedition before. Like every mountaineer, Korean mountaineers also wanted to surmount a virgin peak. Mr. Sung Man Park, my old friend, last year, inquired about the fact that whether this peak is still unclimbed. I explored maximum sources i.e. Ministry of Tourism, and some Tour Operators including Nazir Sabir Expeditions, Himalaya  Trek & Tours,  Pakistan Guides (Mr. Kaiser Khan) etc. I also contacted local guides, high altitude porters. Though rarely available on the subject, I consulted books as well. All sources showed no clue about any attempt on This peak. However, it was revealed that there were some expeditions on peaks around Kunyang Chhish East (7,400-M). Therefore,

I passed on this fact to Mr. Park. He was very pleased and planned this expedition. After fulfilling necessary formalities Mr. Park got permit for his 10-member team.

ARRIVAL OF EXPEDITON AND PRELIMINARIES: The expedition arrived Islamabad on 1st May, 2003. On 2nd May they visited Tourism Division for first contact meeting. The Liaison Officer (Mr. Muhammad Nadeem Malik Commando, from Lahore) also reported on  2nd May. The team had already engaged me as their Mountain Guide. However, they also requested me to help them to fulfill necessary formalities and everyday jobs before their departure to Mountains.  The team also took the services of Himalaya Trek & Tours for official obligations and paperwork. We managed to complete all things. We hired a High Altitude porter (Mr. Muhammad Qurban from Shimsahl); a cook (Mr. Sher Zaman from Astore);  Assistant Cooks (Mr. Muhammad Saghir and Nusrat Ahmed both from Islamabad). The team was briefed on 3rd May. On 4th and 5th we did local shopping and on 6th we  left Islamabad for Mountains, though there were some rumors about blockage of  KKH.
We started our journey on 6th May at 6:00 A.M. and reached Chilas at 9:00 P.M. The road was block and there was no chance to cross these slides on the KKH. However, we decided to stay in Chilas Inn. Next morning we visited the road-side and reached Gunar Farm on feet. The road was terribly damaged and there was no hope of its opening in the next couple of weeks. Then we visited local administration office.  They were also unaware about the prospects of road clearance. We stayed here for  03 days and walked around the town. We also visited nearby rock carvings of Buddha. When we realized that there is no chance of road clearance, we decided to hire porter from Gunar Farm to Thilichi  (about 45 Kms. Walk). We hired 100 porters and each charged Rs.1,000/-. In Chilas, Mr. Zafar Waqar, Assistant Commissioner and Mr. Habib ur Rehman, Magistrate, both helped us to hire porters. Iím thankful for their this co-operation.
The expedition started  trek on 11th May in the morning and reached Thilichi in the evening. From here we hired vehicles (3 hi-ace, Rs.2000/- charged by each) and reached Gilgit at night. Here we stayed in Madina Hotel. Next morning, we resumed our journey  and reached Genesh at 11:00 AM. Here we stayed in Krakoram Highway Inn. Here we visited the beautiful town of Karimabad, Baltit Fort and Genish Fort.
We also visited Nagar Police Station and Tehsil office to hire porters. Here we came to know that there is a Union of porters. The people of Hispar wanted to get hired 50% porters from their village and 50% from Nagar. After a long discussion, it was decided that while going up, porters from Nagar will be hired, and while returning from the base camp from Hispar, as it has been a practice for a quite long time. There are 5 stages. The rate was finalized as follows: Rs.220/- per stage; Rs.110/- for empty return; kit Rs.200/- and Rs.50- for Yak (meat).  In this way each porter was paid Rs.1900/-.  We also wanted to hire jeeps from Genish to Hispar. Jeep Owners/Drivers of Nagar also have Union.

They do not allow jeeps from any other area. They charge Rs.3,500/- for just 5-6 hours drive which is also monopolistic price. We hired 7 jeeps from Nagar and reached  in the evening as the road was not smooth. Some of the stuff, we dumped at the house Chairman of  Hispar. Our hired sixty porters were ready to carry load.

TREK TO BASE CAMP: Now started the phase of real adventure. Just after 10 minutes we came across a bridge which was built by Mr. Shifa Ali who charged Rs.30/- each to cross this bridge. According, to him it was got built by him and bore cost of ten yaks. After 3 hours walk we reached the first stage known as Phloli Chhish (means place of trees). After further three hours walk we reached at second stage namely Bulimbut (means Spring stone). Then after having a walk of 45 minutes on Kayung Chhish glacier we reached at 3rd stage Bitanmaal (Magic place). There is a legend of magic associated with this place.

Here Yaks of the village are also kept and only one person (now a days Mr. Shifa Ali was deputed) from the village accompanies them to look after. He also informed that there is no expedition which ever attempted this Peak. However, he told us the story about a Polish expedition which came to climb Main Kayung Chhish(7,852-M) a couple of years ago. We spent a night there and enjoyed the hospitality of Mr. Shifa Ali who served us with Milk and Luhsi (drink made of yogurt and milk).

Next day, after walking two hours we reached the fourth stage Duchkin Das (a place where milk-cow was stopped). Then two hours further walk we reached Phumari Chhish  and after one hour further walk we reach the Base Camp (4,200-M) of  Kayung Chhish East. It is known as Phush Dalala (dirty-smell place). As there are few stones smell like a chemical. Thatís why local have named is so.

CLIMBING STARTS: On 20th June we started our climb. We reached at the height of 4,460-M and started to establish Advance Base Camp (ABC).  The route was not difficult. We comfortably reached there in four hours.

On 23rd we reached at the height of 4,715-M and set up Camp-I. After that the glacier was broken and it was really very difficult to cross. However, we tried to find a route but could not. We also tried to make our own route from different sides and fixed rope on many places. But after spending a couple of days in this struggle we could not succeed in marking our way. Then leader had a meeting, after discussion, we abandoned this route and decided to attempt it from the West-South Side. On 1st June we established Camp-I at the height of 5200-M. This route was also difficult and dangerous so we fixed about 250-M rope on our way to Camp-I. After establishing Camp-I we strive for Camp-II. After a few days climb we could establish Camp-II at the height of 6,100-M. From here, too, it was difficult to trace route for our further climb.

However, again working hard we could not find our way, and finally, decided to abandon our expedition. At Camp-II we were at a few steps from Ice Cake Peak 6,400-M peak. Therefore, the leader decided to attempt it before concluding the expedition. On 9th June at 8:00 AM the leader along with five members namely Park Sung Man, Yen Yong Hun, Shim Yeong Keon, Ko Jung Sig, Kim Man Kun and Jang Ki Seob  reached on the top of Cake Peak (6,400-M).

BASE CAMP STAY-WINDING UP OF EXPEDITION: During the course of our expedition in the base camp, it is difficult to find fresh vegetables and meat. For fresh meat we bought a Yak and slaughtered. Mr. Aslam Shahid Rana, LO of Japanese Expedition Kunyang Chish Main (7,852-M) visited us. He also brought some food and medicine for our expedition. Two French also visited our Base Camp who were the members of Pak-France Joint Expedition Kunyang Chish East. We could not see any LO  with them.

On 10-11th June, we started to pack our expedition. We also gathered all the rubbish which we had already brought from the higher camps and also collected from the base camp and burnt it before leaving.We made sure that nothing is left except footprint. We hired porters of Hispar village. On 12th June we started our trek back and reached Hispar Village in about 10 hours.

ESTABLISHMENT OF MEDICAL CAMP: In Hispar we set up a Medical Camp. Ms. Hawng Mi Ae, the doctor of the expedition examined a number of local patients and medicated them. The team also distributed medicines amounting to US $ 3,200 among locals.
RETURN TO ISLAMABAD: On our return, the jeep road was block at Horo and we have to pay addition amount of Rs.330/- to each porter. From Horo we hired 07 jeeps at Rs.1200/- per jeep. But when we reached Genish, the Driversí Union office bearers of Nagar reached their and forced our leader to pay Rs.2000/- for each jeep.

It was a surprising demand for us, however, in order to avoid legal proceedings against them, and save their time, the leader decided to pay them according to their desire. On 16th June in the morning we hired Coach and drove to Islamabad via Gilgit.

ARRIVAL IN ISLAMABAD: The expedition arrived Islamabad on 17th noon. We immediately rushed to Travel Office and got their seats booking/confirmation. PIA office confirmed seats for 20th June.  Next day the team visited Tourism Division for debriefing. Now team had three days on heir disposal to be spent. Unfortunately, one of the  members got sick and we had to bring him to Hospital where after necessary medication the Doctor advised him for rest. However, he recovered soon. The weather was hot in Islamabad and we decided to visit Murree Hills. On 19th June we  spent the whole day in Murree and enjoyed natural beauty of the area.

Finally, all the team members flew by PIA towards their home.

CONCLUSION: At the end, I would like to say that it was a unique experience to go as a Mountain Guide with foreign expedition. Besides, many other difficulties which usually, mountaineers face while on their expeditions, we faced few additional problems due to road blockage, transport/Jeep Union, Porters Union etc. This increased the cost of the expedition for which almost every expedition keeps some provision. However, this expedition compelled to pay much more than the emergency provisions they kept. It is may be mentioned here that this expedition has a budget of US $ 70,000.

Like every expedition, this team also submitted, de-briefing Performa. My experience is that usually such problems are not highlight while de-briefing as they are in hurry to go home. Moreover, in every team, at least a few mountaineers want to come back and they hesitate to bring in black and white to avoid any future complication. I think each LO should submit a separate report. It will not only be helpful for people in mountaineering world but also serve as a feedback for others such as Tourism Division etc. I welcome any information/inquiry needed by any interested person about this expedition/peak.

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