In 1993 the RAF Mountain Rescue Service had our 50 the Anniversary Expedition to Diran Peak in Pakistan. The journey to the mountain is a tale in its own right the sights and smells of Pakistan were incredible. The logistics of getting to the mountain involved an incredible journey along the Karakorum Highway a trip not for the faint hearted. The wildness of the area and this was before Pakistan became a place few tourists visited was a real insight into this incredible area.The two days spent in Islamabad were a different world, the poverty, pace of the place and the pollution made it a city not to linger. We had to buy all the food and this was interesting and I was looking after this part of the trip but my Sirdar “Jabbad” was a great help and became a good friend. We built up such a trust that was to stand us in good stead throughout this exepdition. This trip was designed to give as many as possible an insight into the big mountains and the trek was an incredible journey for those who were on it. They also had an incredible trip into rarely visited mountains in wild weather and that is another story. There were 14 of us were on the huge mountain of Diran on two routes, no porters were used after Base Camp and it was a new world to many in the big mountains where Nature takes no prisoners. Bill Batson was the Leader of the trip and with really 3 mini expeditions leaving from Base Camp it became a logistics nightmare at times.
Diran is also called Minapin a lovely mountain in the Karakoram range in Gilgit – Balistan region Of Pakistan This 7,266-metre (23,839 ft) pyramid shaped mountain lies to the east of Rakaposhii (7,788m). Rakaposhi has a great history and was climbed in 1958 by the late Tom Patey, Mike Banks and Hamish McInnes was involved in the ascent of this massive peak. It is a mountain with a huge reputation and towers above our planned Base Camp and played ahuge part in the mountaineering history of this area. Diran was supposed to be the second easiest 7000 metre peak after Spantik but has a huge reputation for avalanches! It is easily accessible because of the Karakorum highway and exciting epic drive to Gilgit and then to Minipin were the fun begins.
From here a trek for 3 days takes you to a magnificent mountain. When we went in 1994 it was an amazing trip and past tales of epics with porters in the past were soon sorted by some good liaison with them and our wonderful Sirdar Jabbad.
We had a big group with 12 trekking in the area and two teams on Diran one on the North Face and the other on the North East Ridge which had only one ascent to date in 1993! In the end we all had one incredible trip and learned so much which was to stand us in good stead on Everest in 2001.
Diran was first climbed in 1968 by three Austrians: Rainer Goeschl, Rudolph Pischinger and Hanns Schell. Earlier attempts by a German expedition in 1959 and an Australian expedition in 1964 were unsuccessful. It looked a great hill and had an Alpine Style ascent of the North Face by Doug Scott in the mid 80’s it looked a good objective and one we may be able to get a lot of our expedition very high. We would use no porters after Base Camp and it was a fairly new game to many and these huge mountains take no prisoners as we were to find out.
The walk to Base Camp
One day from Minapin village to Tagphari. Day two, cross the Minapin Glacier and walk up to lDiran Base Camp. An Advance Base Camp was to be be made at 4000m on the glacier below the North Face. We arrived safe and well oat Base Camp. We well a fairly experienced group with several having climbed on Everest’s West Ridge and summited on Mount McKinley in Alaska, Shivling in India and various other smaller mountains in the Himalayas. To be continued!