Already last year, when travelling to the Kashmir Himalayas with Stef Siegrist and Denis Burdet, it became apparent that the potential of big and appealing projects in the Alps would soon be limited for me. Ever since I have turned my passion towards alpine climbing, I was inspired by the obvious and logical lines through big walls. Finding the hardest line in a tall face was never my goal, I have always been in search of walls, where the easiest way up is already a borderline challenge.
Therefore it was an easy decision as well as an implication to travel to the Karakorum in Pakistan, which is known to be one of the most impressive mountain ranges in the world. Where if not there would I find my mountains, my lines, my projects?
For this year, my partner Peter Ortner and I have set our eyes on two stunning peaks on the Baltoro glacier. Firstly we want to attempt climbing the Trango Tower (6.239 meters/20.500ft above sea level), a free-standing granite spike that rises 1000m/3300ft from the ground. Afterwards we plan to expend our high altitude experience on the Chogolisa (7.665m/25.000ft above sea level).
The last weeks before the departure have been pretty stressful. On the one hand the whole expedition had to be planned in detail, equipment had to be organized and permits had to be taken care of. Secondly I wanted to take off in good shape, so I tried to make use of the spare time to climb in the surroundings of the Geraer hut, the Kalkkögeln and in the Dolomites of East Tyrol.
Yesterday Peter and I finally arrived at Skardu coming from Islamabad. Even though the big mountains are still a couple of hiking days away, I feel that there are six exciting weeks ahead of us …