Kunyang Chhish East ((24,278 feet) in Pakistan’s Karakoram has finally seen a first ascent when a team of three climbers reached the summit on July 18th. Swiss climber Simon Anthamatten and Austrian brothers Hansjörg and Matthias Auer ascended the South West Face of the dramatic peak, achieving what has eluded mountaineers for a decade since the first attempt to climb the mountain, which took place in 2003. Kunyang Chhish East has been called “one of the last problems in Karakoram” and has resisted previous summit bids, most notably a 2006 attempt by American climbers Steve House and Vince Anderson, who were forced to turn back 1,000 feet from the summit. The mountain is located in Hispar Muztagh, a sub-range of the Karakoram Mountains.
The Karakoram mountains of Pakistan are some of the most dramatic on earth, boasting four of the world’s fourteen 8000 meter peaks. The range has been the scene of several dramatic incidents and tragedies in recent months, including the deaths of Polish mountaineers Tomasz Kowalski and Maciej Berbeka in March, who went missing after making the first winter ascent of Broad Peak (26,414 feet or 8051 m), and a recent three-member Iranian expedition who also reached the summit of Broad Peak only to become stranded on the descent. The Iranian team is still stuck high on the mountain, and the agency that organized the expedition (Adventure Tours Pakistan) has stated they believe there is little hope of finding the mountaineers still alive.