In August 2006 nine climbers from Slovenia arrived to Islamabad in Pakistan for this year’s climbing adventures in the Trango group. The expedition was comprised of four climbing parties of different ages, with different goals, but the same love for climbing. The climbing parties were: Andrej Grmovšek and Silvo Karo (the eldest and most experienced); Matjaž Jeran and Matevž Kunšič (young guys who came back after two years to make it to the top of Trango Tower); Aleš Česen and Nejc Česen (two young brothers); and Tina Di Batista, Aleksandra Voglar and me, Tanja Grmovšek (the girls team).
The women part of the expedition definitely spiced up the mostly men climbing society in the Trango base camp. We came to Pakistan open minded but with a few ideas about what we would like to climb. However, our goals ended up changing as fast as the weather in Pakistan. The first goal, repeating the alpine style Slovak route Mystical Denmo in Haina Brakk East, was quickly altered as we watched the constant rock-fall in the approach gully. Our second goal, repeating the alpine style route Inshallah in Shipton spire changed after the Americans, who just attempted the route, reported that a part of it fell down above the 9th pitch. The next goal was a repeat of the Slovenian route alpine style in the Nameless Trango tower. After some debate with our friends we decided that three-person climbing party is not ideal for that climb so we stepped away and gave room to the guys who wanted to climb the route free. Finally we opted for a very challenging goal for ourselves - the repeat of Eternal flame in alpine style. And we stuck to that plan all the way to the very top.
It took us ten long and laborious days to reach the Trango base camp. A few of us had serious problems with adjusting to the uncleanliness of our kitchen, which resulted in a month of diarrhoea... Especially Tina and I (Tanja) were pretty beaten up at the end of our expedition. During our stay in BC we had quite miserable weather with changeable weather most of the days and only two beautiful sunny days. Rain, some snow and spindrifts from avalanches were also our guests in BC. There were enough of us in the base camp, which provided endless entertainment and made the wait for better weather a lot easier.
For acclimatization we, the women party (Tina, Sandra and me) hiked up and down Trango gully two times and climbed Great Trango tower (6287m) by the Selter-Woolum route on the north flank (ice and snow up to 80°, mainly 40°-60°). We reached the summit on 23th of August. Between the bad weather we climbed Karakoram Khush route (6a/b, 300m) on Garda Peak (cca 4700m), where we did a variation to the first pitch (6a/b, 50m). As the first climbing party we completed that route free on 26th of August. We also repeated very nice and enjoyable route on “Base camp slabs”, the route Oceano Trango (6a/b, 300m), which we extended two more pitches to the logical tower “Pinocchio” (5, 55m and 6-, 60m). We climbed that route on 29th of August. Slowly but surely our time started to run out and the weather was still bad. We had only six more days left before our departure from BC when the weather finally took a turn for the better.
We decided to give it a try and climb freshly snowed Eternal flame (6c A2, 1000m) on Trango Nameless Tower (6251m) in one push, alpine style, with all the strength that was left in us after the notorious food and health struggle. Our goal was to climb without any support, as fast as possible, as light as possible, to make it to the summit, and even more importantly to make it back safe and happy. We climbed as a party of three with the lead person going light and the other two bringing up the gear. We took just two sleeping bags, a stove and some bars, one ice axe and one pair of crampons. Still, the two backpacks very heavy to begin with and only got heavier the higher up we went. We climbed in blocks and the heavy loaded second and third person jumared. We mostly free climbed the lower part to the terrace and also the snowy/mix pitches on the top. The rest of the route we mostly aid climbed due to cold temperatures with certain sections of obligatory free climbing in between.
We started from the south col and in three days we made the first all female alpine style ascent of the Trango Nameless Tower. During those three days Trango turned into the “Slovenian tower” since there were four Slovenian climbing parties on it, all four successful at the end. On the first day the bad weather pushed our limits as we were convincing our minds to keep going so we can reach the Sunny terrace, which we did. Better weather started the second day as we climbed to the promised big ledge (after pitch 23), where we ended up shivering and squeezing in a spot big enough for only one person. We didn’t look at the topo and by mistake climbed Pou’s variation to pitch 20&21, which was completely dry. The third day started out with nice weather, which soon turned into strong cold wind that chilled us to the bone. We summitted at 9 p.m. on 9th of September screaming out of joy with all that we had left in us while admiring the incredible moonlit scenery all around. After climbing such an incredible route I was finally standing on the top of the Nameless Tower with smiling and crying women around me, more than 2000m above BC. What a great moment to remember - we did it!!! Inshallah. We reached terrace at 2 a.m. after finding one stick rope and loosing one. We came back to a big party in BC prepared by our two cooks who invited all the climbers. The same night we packed our gear and had it ready for our porters the next morning. We bid farewell and walked for the next two days. After seven very tiring days of travel we’re finally able to rest in Skardu. What timing and luck we had and what a climb we did!
Looking back at our ascent: it was not easy, we were tired and cold, we even got some frostbites on fingers and toes and we all had to deal with some difficult thoughts in our heads during the climb. However, we kept going one pitch after another. It was challenging from the very beginning and we walked a thin line between going up or going down, but each one of us kept silent and did her job. On the top we barely believed that we couldn’t go any higher. It was hard, but it was worth it! A beautiful line - on a beautiful mountain - in the beautiful surroundings - by three beautiful women. Inshallah.
by Tanja Grmovšek, September 2006
- Eternal flame, VI, 6c, A2, M5, 1000m, Trango Nameless tower, 6251m (6239m); first all female ascent, alpine style; 7– 9th of September 2006; Tina Di Batista, Tanja Grmovšek, Aleksandra Voglar
- American route, ice and snow up to 80°, mainly 40°-60°, Great Trango tower, 6286 m; 23th of August 2006; Tina Di Batista, Tanja Grmovšek, Aleksandra Voglar
- Karakoram Khush, IV, 6a/b, 300m, Garda peak (4700m); FA; we added a free variation to the start of the climb; 26th of August 2006; Tina Di Batista, Tanja Grmovšek, Aleksandra Voglar
- Oceano Trango, IV, 6a/b, 300m, Base camp slabs- Pinocchio (cca 4350m); FA; we added two new pitches to the tower Pinocchio; 29th of August 2006; Tina Di Batista, Tanja Grmovšek, Aleksandra Voglar
Tina Di Batista is one of the leading Slovenian female alpinist in last few years; she has accomplished first all female ascent of Fitz Roy in 2004 and of Trango (Nameless) Tower in 2006. She has climbed many hard snow, ice and rock routes in the Alps, USA, Peru, Alaska, Chile, Argentina, Nepal… She has first ascent in Chile. In sport climbing she climbed up to 8a. She is IFMGA mountain guide.
Tanja Grmovšek is also one of the leading Slovenian female alpinist in last few years; she accomplished first all female ascent of Cerro Torre in 2005 and of Trango (Nameless) Tower in 2006. She has climbed many hard rock, ice and snow routes in the Alps, USA, Peru, Mexico, China, Norway, Argentina… She has first ascents in China, Peru and in Slovenian Alps. She also competes in ice climbing WC, in mix climbing she did M9.
Aleksandra Voglar has climbed many hard rock routes in the Alps, USA, Mexico and Peru. She has accomplished first all women ascent of Trango (Nameless) Tower in 2006. She has first ascent in Peru. In sport climbing she climbed up to 7c. She is a mother of three years old son Matija.
You can find some pictures from their climbing on this site under "GALERIJE" or via: http://www.grmoclimb.net/?str=7&aid=25
You can watch short film tranGO girls on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzuFft64578