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Xari Mayr Ogre III Expedition
3rd November 2017

Gone With The Wind | Xari Mayr Ogre III Expedition Report

Ogre III Expedition Report

We’re hanging out at base camp and eagerly listening to the weather forecast broadcasted on the satellite phone. “It’s going to be more stable in the next few days, but there’s a storm at high altitude”, our meteorologist, Charly Gable, reports. This is most likely our only chance for a summit attempt. Despite several previous attempts, Ogre III wasn’t ascended until 2001 by Thomas Huber and Iwan Wolf on the South Pillar Route. This was our chance. But would the changeable conditions favour us?

Xari-Mayr Ogre III Expedition Report

Words by Xari Mayr

________

At the end of August, Rainer Treppte, Fritz Miller and I set out to Pakistan to climb Ogre III at 6950m. From Islamabad we made our way to Askole, a small town located in Shigar Valley, the final settlement before the wilderness of the Karakoram Mountains. Our cook Ali, kitchen aid Musa and officer Shakoor joined us there and completed the team. After nine days of travelling by plane, pushing our jeep up gravel roads and covering the rest of the way on foot, we reached base camp at 4400m. We instantly started our acclimatisation and worked on the route.

Route To The Top – South Pillar

Xari Mayr - Ogre III Expedition
Top Left: Weather forecast during the ascent. Top Right: On the third day of the approach we caught the first glimpse of Ogre III. We were overwhelmed by its gigantic dimensions. Bottom Left: Rainer makes his way through the icefall. Bottom Right: The upper part of the crevassed icefall on the way to Camp 1.

We chose to climb Ogre III on the very steep and direct route on the South Pillar. During the first part of the climb we had to overcome a very rugged icefall which we secured with fixed ropes. At the top of the crevasse maze we built our first camp at 5200m.

Sunny and stable weather. Fritz and I ascended to Camp II through the steep fern gully, plunging through deep snow on the last bit up the saddle. Rainer stays at base camp because he doesn’t feel well…[excerpt from expedition journal]

We built Camp II at an exposed spot at the foot of the south pillar at 6050m. After spending the night there, we descended to base camp again. We felt confident, sufficiently acclimatised and satisfied with the good progress.

From base camp we started the first summit push, but our plans were suddenly dashed upon arrival at Camp II. The tent had been severely battered by an earlier storm and snowfall from the previous few days. And the weather was getting worse. We soon realised that time was running out.

The Second Ascent

Left: Arriving at Camp II (6050m) after a few days of harsh storm conditions. We didn’t expect our camp to look like this. Top Right: Camp I, as soon the the sun disappeared behind the horizon it got very cold, very quickly. Bottom Right: After four hours of hacking ice, the tent site for two tents was complete. Camp I, 5400m.

With the next weather window soon swooping in, we started climbing again. Realisation crept in that this would be our very last chance to reach the summit. This time the weather was on our side, and in perfect conditions, with very light wind, we reached Camp II again, and started building fixed ropes at the South Pillar.

Gone With The Wind

Xari Mayr Ogre III Expedition
Left: At the start of the South Pillar, 6050m. Upon arrival at Camp II we started to build our fixed ropes. Top Right: At the South Pillar. Bottom Right: Our dream of Ogre III, gone with the wind. The good weather conditions didn’t stay very long and in the end wind and storm made the summit push impossible. This is the highest point we reached at South Pillar (6200m).

But the good weather conditions didn’t last very long. More bad weather with heavy storms and snowfall came in, making life hard for us on the mountain. On the third day we realize it’s over. Our dream of summiting Ogre III was gone with the wind. With heavy hearts we took the ropes and camp down and started descending to base camp.

On every expedition you need a good portion of luck. And sometimes, even with prior training and preparation, some things are just out of your control. Bad weather and storms prevented us from reaching the summit. But what really counts in the end is the experience itself and having a good time together with your climbing partners. And to top it off, we were lucky enough to get to know a beautiful country, and its people.

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