Gasherbrum Peak nicknamed the Hidden Peak, Lies within the Remote Himalayan Karakoram ranges. It is a breathtaking peak rising above 8080 meters (26,509 feet) and ranks as the 11th highest peak in the world.
Gasherbrum, located towards the northeastern region of the Baltoro Glacier of the Karakoram mountain range, is majestic and has lured many mountaineers and adventurers worldwide. The mountains have a sheer beauty but also a challenging terrain, and this combination makes it an irresistible destination for mountaineers seeking something new to conquer than Everest.
The Gasherbrum peak group comprises six peaks I, II, III, IV, V, and VI, with Gasherbrum I being the highest at 8,080 m (26,510 ft). Fondly called the “Hidden Peak,” Gasherbrum I earned its nickname due to its remote area and rugged terrain encircled by other white mountains of the Karakoram Range.
Summiting Gasherbrum is difficult as climbers face challenges like treacherous glaciers, unpredictable weather, steep ice walls, etc., during their expedition. Also, the route to the peak is challenging, demanding climbing with technical skills, strong determination, and experience to conquer.
Despite its challenges, the rewards for conquering the 11th high-mountain Gasherbrum Peak are unparalleled. Climbers on the journey to conquer any Gasherbrum peak are surrounded by panoramic views of the mountains, Karakoram Range, glaciers, etc. Continue reading to learn more about the Gasherbrum and its five other famous peaks.
Gasherbrum I: The Hidden Peak
Gasherbrum I is originally named the K5 by the Colonial Great Trigonometric Survey of India. Likewise, its other famous name is ‘the Hidden Peak,’ nicknamed by the Victorian mountaineers as it lies within Pakistan’s extreme tremor aera. The name given to the peak, ‘the Hidden Peak, ’ still seems appropriate as the remoteness around the regions still exists to date.
It is still one of the least-known of the 8,000ers and is rarely climbed. With this in mind, the peak has seen less than 200 summits to date and ranks tenth on the ascent list of 8,000ers. Even if you are hiking through the most established routes, you still feel you are walking on a new route here.
The most common route to the peak is to make an ascent from the western side. Continuing this route, you will reach “The Japanese Couloir,” just atop the northwest face. Similarly, the first successful ascent was made in (1958) via Spur Peak and the Long southeast ridge.
The best trick to reach the summit of the Gasherbrum mainly depends on timing. Also, plan your expeditions between June and August, considered the best months for climbing trips in Pakistan.
In addition, the peak has climbed the lives of 34 mountaineers so far, mainly due to unpredictable storms or falls. The death zone of the peak also has a few roles of taking climbers’ lives here.
Gasherbrum II: The Savage Mountain
Gasherbrum II rising above the sea level at 8,034m, ranks as the world’s 13th-highest peak and 2nd-highest peak in the Gasherbrum ranges. Generally, the name of the peak means “Beautiful mountain” in the local language and is recognized as the peak among the 8,000ers like Cho Oyu, Everest, Shishapangma, K2, etc.s.
Mt Gasherbrum II is often climbed mainly by those mountaineers who want to experience mountaineering before ascending toward Mt Everest or K2. Thus the peak served as the introduction to conquering high peak mountains for the mountaineers. Not a beginner but a more experienced mountain seeking rope climbing challenges and technicality want to consider climbing the Gasherbrum II.
Gasherbrum II peak before was one of the most difficult mountains to climb and was often compared with the Mt k2 technical difficulty. But today, the peak is considered one of the safest and easiest among the 8,000ers to summit. This being said, there have been around 1000 successful summits and 21 deaths, with the fatality rate being around 2 percent till now.
Gasherbrum III: The Forgetten Peak
Gasherbrum III lies far away in the wilderness. This probably explains why Peak has only submitted twice until now. Even though it is less tall than its first two brothers Mountain and Everest, the peak is still considered one of the highest in the world and ranked as 15 highest.
Gasherbrum II lies on the border of the Pakistan’s Gilgit–Baltistan region and China Xinjiang’ region. Similarly, the peak is part of the Karakoram mountain range, just above the Baltoro Glacier. The peak is sometimes also called the subpeak of Gasherbrum II due to its topographic prominence.
Gasherbrum IV: The Challenging Peak
Gasherbrum IV ranks 17th among the highest mountain in the world and 6th among the highest mountain in Pakistan. The peak is located among Gasherbrum peaks towards the northeastern end of the Karakoram Range’s Baltoro glacier.
The other name of the Gasherbrum IV is the “shining wall,” divinely given to the peak, soldering its beautiful, shining, highly visible west face. Another name for the peak is “beautiful wall,” provided by the locals considering its great trapeze-shaped peak made by the 3,050 m/10,000 ft pale limestone walls.
The History of Expeditions on the Gasherbrum Peaks
Gasherbrum meaning “Shining Wall” in the local language, has six peaks. All these peaks have long expeditions attempting history to scale by Mountaineers of all levels. As some of the only 8000m peaks remain unclimbed, they present compelling challenges for climbers looking to make their mark.
The very early attempt to reach the summit of Gasherbrum Peaks started in the 1900s after the Britains and Italians photographed and surveyed the peak for the first time. The first series attempt to the summit of the Gasherbrum, the 11th highest in the world and 1st highest in the group of Gasherbrum peaks started in the 1930s.
This being said, Swiss G.O. Dyhrenfurt organized big international expeditions to conquer Gasherbrum, but the climbers only reached a height of 6300 meters. Later in 1936, another French expedition was organized, but they could not reach higher than 6900 meters of the peak.
Success on Gasherbrum I
After a long attempt to summit the peak in the 1930s, the Gasherbrum I peak was finally climbed on July 5, 1958, by an American team led by Nick Clinch. The other climbers in the group were Pete Schoening and Andy Kauffman, and the other eight mountaineers were Tom Nevison, Richard K. Irvin, Gil Roberts, Tom McCormac, Bob Swift, etc. This victory paved the way for the other mountaineer, though the other Gasherbrum Peak remained inaccessible for decades.
The Mountaineers Pushing Onward
Gasherbrum I peak was already first summited, but the other five still needed to be conquered. So the mountaineers were determined to reach the peak of the remaining peaks of the Gasherbrum.
They embarked on several Gasherbrum climbing expeditions but failed until July 7, 1956; they became the first mountains to reach the peak of Gasherbrum II to 8,035 m (26,362 ft.). Likewise, the mountains to climb the peak for the first time were Josef Larch, Hans Willenpart, and Fritz Moravec.
Moreover, mountaineers made several attempts after Gasherbrum II and conquered the remaining peaks like Gasherbrum III and IV.
Gasherbrum III saw its’ first successful summit in 1975 by the mountaineers Wanda Rutkiewicz, Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Alison Chadwick, and Krzysztof Zdzitowiecki via the East Face. Likewise, the Gasherbrum IV saw its first ascend in 1958, made by a strong Italian team. Still, Gasherbrum V, the second highest, refused to yield.
In recent years, with the increase in the advancement of equipment and weather forecasting, there has been a revitalization of summiting the peak again among mountaineers.
Many years have passed since the first ascend to the Gasherbrum I, II III, and IV peaks, with the Gasherbrum II experiencing the highest successful attempt numbering around 1000 today. Likewise, 200 successful ascend have been recorded in Gasherbrum I and only 3 in Gasherbrum III.
Gasherbrum V remained unclimbed until the mountains Chi-young Ahn and Nak-jong Seong completed their first climb to the peak in 2014 via the South Face route.
Despite its popularity, the Gasherbrum Peak remains one of the least climbed mountains and still waits for those bold enough to stake their claim on the frigid, windswept heights.
How Difficult Are the Climbs?
The Gasherbrum peaks are not the highest, but these peak expeditions are also challenging for experienced and trained mountaineers. How difficult is Gasherbrum? Let’s break down the five main Gasherbrum climbs.
Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak)
Gasherbrum I rising to 8,068m ave sea level, is the 11th-highest peak in the world. This peak is characterized by its icy slopes and exposure, which makes it one of the most dangerous climbs. The ascend generally takes around 4 to 6 weeks round trip, along with the difficult sections combing with the mixed rock, snow, and ice climbing to tackle.
Therefore while climbing, Acclimatization to high altitudes is a must. Gasherbrum I climbing expedition should only be an attempt by fit mountaineers who have experienced enough to overcome the challenges.
With a height of 8,035m, Gasherbrum II is slightly lower than and more accessible than Gasherbrum I. But still, the peak is challenging and dangerous to the summit for mountaineers.
The climbing period of Gasherbrum II is similar to that of Gasherbrum I requiring extra carefulness and technique to cross the crevasses, ascending steep snow rocky ridges, and ice slopes up to 60 degrees. Therefore Proper acclimatization and strong physical fitness and endurance are must-haves for mountaineers wanting to conquer it.
Broad Peak (Gasherbrum III)
The third-highest Gasherbrum peak (Gasherbrum III), which is only shy of 8,000m in height, has a reputation for being less technical than its other two brother mountains. However, its high altitude makes the summit challenging and tricky, which can be tackled by only a few best mountaineers in the world.
Similarly, its approach also requires a longer time and is trickier than its two highest brothers. As with the other peaks, only experienced mountaineers who have spent significant time at extremely high altitudes should attempt Broad Peak. To ascend, climb should first get up to GII’s Southwest Ridge part and then turn left to GIII.
If a peak can be compared to Mt K2 among the Gasherbrum peaks, that would be Gasherbrum IV. The 7,932m Gasherbrum IV is the hardest climb ever due to the peaks, technical difficulty, and extended exposure to high altitudes. The sheer rock faces of the peak are harsh, with many objective dangers.
Gasherbrum IV lies in a remote area of the Pakitan; here, there is a high possibility of unstable weather.
Mountains on this expedition should ascend the icy and avalanche-prone NW Face, which normally takes 6 to 8 weeks to climb with acclimatization included. Therefore, this climb requires high technical skills and thus should be attempted by only proficiency in it.
All Gasherbrum peaks are extremely tall and difficult to climb. Therefore Gasherbrum Expedition Journey is not suitable for beginners or moderately experienced climbers. However, for expert mountaineers looking out for challenges similar to Mt K2 or Everest, these peak offers the most spectacular and rewarding climbs for their visitors.
Planning an Expedition to the Gasherbrums
A gasherbrum peaks climbing expedition isn’t a small feat, so careful planning is required beforehand. These remote, technical climbs require extensive preparation for a successful and safe summit bid.
Build a Strong Team
The Gasherbrum Peaks climbing is only for group climbers and large teams, not for solo or small teams. To be prepared, you will first want to assemble a group of highly experienced mountaineers who are best at their jobs, like climbing at high-altitude navigation places. Moreover, look for teammates who have mastered filming, navigation, medical support, etc.
After building a team for your expedition, the next step you can take is to Train Rigorously. You can start your training session at least a year earlier to build your endurance and familiarity with technical climbing. Likewise, include more cardio exercises on your route, like running, biking, and swimming, improving your stamina overall. Also, include strength training in your training session especially targeting your legs and core muscles. You can start by planning a multi-day hike with heavier packs to tackle the long hikes through the rough terrain while carrying gear and clothing.
Plan Your Route
There are six peaks in the Gasherbrum range, meaning there will be many routes with varying difficulty to ascend. Work with your team and other experts to select the route matching your team’s collective experiences and equipment with your own.
The easier route to the summit will take around 4 to 6 weeks round trip, while the harder route will normally require about two months or more. Also, study the detailed topography maps and read the previous expedition’s summit records to choose the best possible route for your team.
Mountaineering becomes easier when you have all the high-quality required gear for your expedition. The gear pack Essentials include insulated jackets, thermal layers, waterproof pants, mountaineering boots, gloves, hats, tents, sleeping bags, and more. Don’t skip quality; your team’s safety depends on your choice.
Obtain Necessary Permits
Permits are mandatory for Gasherbrum peaks expeditions. You must acquire a permit to climb the peak issued by the Government of Pakistan. The permits for climbing the peak normally should be obtained 6-12 months before your expedition. You must provide details about your team members’ planned routes, equipment, and experience to issue permits.
Get Insights On:
All Gasherbrum ranges vary in height and provide a beautiful experience for any mountaineers wanting to reach its top. The peaks can be considered as challenging as Mt k2, but with proper planning and preparation, a Gasherbrum expedition can be the pinnacle of any mountaineer’s career. Therefore take your time, prepare well, and don’t rush the climb itself.