Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



American Team Summits 7,041-Meter Link Sar

Steve Swenson, Mark Richey, Chris Wright and Graham Zimmerman have climbed one of the heretofore tallest unclimbed mountains in the world, Link Sar in Pakistan.

Lock Icon

Unlock this article and more benefits with 40% off.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

40% Off Outside+.
$4.99/month $2.99/month*

Get the one subscription to fuel all your adventures.

  • Map your next adventure with our premium GPS apps: Gaia GPS Premium and Trailforks Pro.
  • Read unlimited digital content from 15+ brands, including Outside Magazine, Triathlete, Ski, Trail Runner, and VeloNews.
  • Watch 600+ hours of endurance challenges, cycling and skiing action, and travel documentaries.
  • Learn from the pros with expert-led online courses.
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

At 65 years old, Steve Swenson’s still got it: on his third attempt at climbing Link Sar (7,041 meters), one of the tallest unclimbed mountains in the world, he finally tagged the summit.

Swenson was joined by Mark Richey, 61; Graham Zimmerman, 33; and Chris Wright, 36. The four of them traveled to Pakistan at the beginning of June.

The trip was supported in part by the American Alpine Club’s Cutting Edge Grant. In his grant proposal, Chris Wright wrote that Link Sar is a “stunning, oft-tried, yet unclimbed granite monster in a seldom-visited valley in the heart of the Karakoram…it is undoubtedly one of the most compelling undone peaks of the greater ranges.”

Teresa Richey,  Mark Richey’s wife, told Rock and Ice that she learned of her husband and his team’s success over the weekend from Swenson’s wife, who had learned it from Zimmerman’s wife. The text they received was simple and conclusive: “Link Sar has been climbed.”

Not long after, Teresa heard directly from Mark. He told her that they had reached the top, but were hurrying down to camp 4 to recuperate, as they were totally exhausted.

[Also Read Graham Zimmerman And Chris Wright Bag First Ascent On Mount MacDonald]

As of Tuesday, the team had already reached camp 3 and was continuing to descend, according to Teresa. “But I won’t be happy until they are down in base camp,” she said.

In 2015, Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman made the first ascent of Link Sar West (6,938 meters), a sub peak of the main Link Sar summit. It was Griffith’s fourth expedition on the mountain when he finally made it up.

Swenson’s first attempt on Link Sar was back in 2000. He didn’t return for round two until 2017, this time with Zimmerman and Wright in tow. That same year the alpinists Tom Ballard, of the U.K. and Daniele Nardi, of Italy—both of whom died earlier this year while trying to climb a new route in winter on Nanga Parbat—attempted Link Sar’s northeast face. They made it to 6,100 meters—climbing 1,700 meters of new terrain, up to WI 5 M5—before turning around.

Zimmerman, Wright, Swenson and Richey all have multiple expeditions under their belts to the Himalayas and the Karakoram. Swenson in particular has been climbing in the Karakoram for four decades, and wrote a book, Karakoram: Climbing Through the Kashmir Conflict, about his experiences.

Notably, Swenson and Richey, along with Freddie Wilkinson, climbed Saser Kangri II East in India in 2011, which—until their ascent—had been the tallest unclimbed mountain in the world that was open for climbing. (Bhutan’s Gangkhar Puensum, at 7,570 meters tall, is the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, but climbing on it is prohibited.) The trio won a Piolet d’Or in 2012 for the climb.

Watch Andy Houseman and Jon Griffith’s 2015 FA of Link Sar West

Also Read

Steve Swenson: What I’ve Learned

Snapshot: Graham Zimmerman – Chasing Winter