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?
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
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
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
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.