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The aim of the Muchu Chhish expedition, consisting of Phil DeBeger, Tim Oates and myself, was to make the first ascent of Muchu Chhish in the Pakistani Karakoram. Although our attempt failed, it was an interesting expedition.

After a gruelling two day journey up the Karakoram Highway to Hunza, we set off up the Hassanabad valley. The trek up the rubble-strewn glacier was short but difficult for the porters. The most dangerous moment of the expedition came when we arrived at base camp and the resident herd of yaks stampeded. We only escaped by climbing onto large boulders.

On the subject of animals, we saw numerous ibex and a snow leopard visited our camp at night. This was surprising for an area so close to the highly populated Hunza valley. Another feature of the camp was the frequent avalanches and rock fall which crashed around us.

After acclimatising, out attempt on the mountain was alpine-style. Ground on a long traverse which we had hoped to climb unroped had to be pitched due to hard ice. Realising that going slowly we had no realistic chance of success we decided to retreat at only 6000m.

Our back-up objective was a couloir on nearby Gutum Talji. Unfortunately this did not have enough ice, so we decided to try another objective elsewhere.

This involved a boat trip to upper Hunza across the 19km long Attabad Lake, which was formed by a huge landslide in 2010. The very hospitable people of the Moorkhun valley were engaged as porters for the short trek to base camp.

Tim and Phil made an attempt on the unclimbed 6200m Pregar, but again the summit was not reached. We were disappointed to have failed on our objectives, but this can happen in the Karakoram.

Thanks to Rab for providing us with equipment. You might expect me to say this, but the gear was brilliant! Here are a few observations.

The MeCo base layers were the best I have worn being comfortable and relatively odour-free for the long periods we wore them.

I really liked the Vapour-rise Pants which I used for both trekking and climbing. When raining they dried quickly through body heat. For me, the Latok Alpine Jacket was ideal being very light and breathable. The eVent Alpine Bivi is also light and worked well.

We managed to comfortably carry some big loads with our Super Alpine 55 rucksacks. These are functional and durable rucksacks which can be stripped down to save weight. The down sleeping bags and clothing lived up to our high expectations. They did seem to dry more quickly thanks to the hydrophobic down.

Finally, thanks also to the Mount Everest Foundation, the British Mountaineering Council, the Alpine Club, the Shipton-Tilman Award and the Rothschild Foundation for their support.

Pete Thompson

Kit used on this expedition

Vapour-rise™ Pants

Vapour-rise™ Pants

The Vapour-rise™ Pants are mid-weight softshell pants, designed to offer complete weather protection and breathability, using a 2-layer system unique to Rab®.

Alpine Bivi

Alpine Bivi

The Alpine bivi is a minimalist, single-person waterproof bivi, designed for use on light-weight alpine expeditions and summit attempts.


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