Expedition to Diran in Pakistan Act 3 the Summit Attempt.

Diran is a big mountain in Pakistan just under 24000 feet. We had a wonderful expedition there in 1993. Looking back we were so lucky with huge avalanches daily. We learnt so much from this trip for the future expeditions.

1993 Avalances just miss ABC

This is third piece on this blog of our trip in 1993 to climb this mountain.

25July- some of us go to the nearby Spantik “The Golden Peak” on a mini trek while we wait for the weather to change. This is an incredible peak we see the Golden Pillar when the weather clears. We needed away from the Base Camp for a while.


In 1987 – Mick Fowler and Victor Saunders climbed The Golden Pillar of Spantik (7027m) in the Pakistan Himalaya. The climb was widely regarded as a new benchmark for alpine style Himalayan ascents. We met a Polish group trying a new line this is extreme alpinism.

The weather had still been poor with huge avalanches pouring down the North Face of Diran and Rakaposhi every day. The Advanced Base Camp (ABC )had just missed being hit by a huge avalanche. We are all very scared fresh snow is down to Base Camp. The avalanche at ABC lands so close to the tents and is huge.

We move up again from Base Camp to ABC and find the tents all damaged despite being moved to a safer area. The walk in is hard in the fresh snow across the glacier. The temperatures during the day reach 100 degrees. It’s worried group that head back to Base after trying to sort things out.

A Spanish group of 6 from Mallorca arrive they intend to climb Diran by the North Face. We make pals and help them out. They have little gear but we give them what we can and our advice on conditions. We get on well .

Those not involved in sorting out ABC have been up to 5000 metres on smaller peaks there is so much snow about nobody summits on the wonderful nearby mountains many 6000 metres. Steep ridges and unconsolidated snow make progress to dangerous.

Yet there are meadows a couple of thousand feet above Base that are covered with wild flowers it’s surreal at times.


28July -The North East Ridge Team and the North Face team will begin their attempt on 29th. They are Dan Carrol the North Face and Bill Batson’s team. Dan’s team of 4 leave ABC at 0200 and reach their equipment cache at 16000 at 0415 sadly it’s buried under feet of snow. This is from huge avalanches that bury everything. They move up to Camp 1 at 17000 here they locate a tent and gear under 5 feet of snow. They are all climbing unroped it’s a huge face and they look so small .

The huge North Face showing the Seracs and crevasse.

A small 2 man snow – hole is made and the other three opt for “shallow snow graves” for the night. A huge avalanche sweeps down the Face just missing camp 1. We can see these avalanches from the camps it’s a dangerous place.

Bivy in the snow graves.

Meanwhile the NE ridge team continue on more awful snow Bill Batson climbs up to 5000 meters and is rewarded by great views of The Gasherburns , Spantik and possibly K2.

Two of his team more arrive on the ridge there is no place for a tent. The descent is awful and sensibly this route is not a goer in these conditions. They decided to regroup and try the North Face.

Descent in poor weather from the North East Ridge.

30 July – Dans group on the North Face leave at 0100 and move through the seracs and steep ground to the above the Face. They move up to the col at 20000 feet some 15 hours after leaving Camp 1.

It takes 2 hours to make a snow hole big enough for 5. A long day for anyone especially at altitude.

31 July Summit Day Dan and party leave their snow hole at 0430. One of the troops is feeling unwell and will follow on behind. They had spent the night without sleeping bags. The 3 continue up the ridge towards the summit plateau climbing several steeper sections and one particularly icy part just below the plateau.

The weather has changed there is now cloud, strong winds and snow. This persuades Willie and Darren who were now 400 feet below the plateau. Meanwhile Dan, Guy and Carl were ahead on the interminable sweep of the plateau. All three arrived at the summit together and the snow and no-views made the hard won photos non – descript.


There was no radio contact and in fast deteriorating weather they began their descent to the snow – hole 5000 feet below. Carl was struggling by now and the descent would be very difficult. It would be a team effort to get off the hill safely.

1993 Guy and Carl on the summit. Just like the Cairngorms but at 24000 feet.

To be continued.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Avalanche info, Enviroment, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Friends, Himalayas/ Everest, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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