Expedition Pakistan 2017, Gasherbrum I., Satisfaction!, first ascent



A new route “Satisfaction!”, Gasherbrum I.

This project was initiated by a legendary duo of Polish Himalayan climbers Jerzy Kukuczka and Voytek Kurtyka more than thirty years ago, who did not succed to climb the central south west face.  We followed their idea and started to chase this project back in 2009 and chose the left hand ice couloir in central wall to start our climb.
At that time the only unanswered question was an unclear passage from the couloir to the col through the rock bottleneck in 7400 meters that led to the snow plateau just below the headwall. Together with my climbing partner Zdeněk Hrubý we solved this first crux of mixed terrain after the second bivy. The next day we continued on up to 7500 meters below the rock barrier. Unfortunately we were forced to an epic escape from this place which meant 2000 meters of rappelling and downclimbing. My climbing partner Zdeněk Hrubý suffered from perforated ulcers and just by miracle we reached the basecamp safely after all.
Failures were gathered as pearls on a string in 2013. During this attempt my frequent climbing partner Zdeněk Hrubý found his death after a 1000-meter fall through the couloir. He fell down taking all of our gear with him including the rope. So my descent became a pure lottery between either staying alive or joining Zdeněk on his final journey.
Next followed the 2015 attempt together with Tomáš Petreček, when we reached 7400 meters and descended together with avalanches due to horrible weather. We reached 7700 m together with Ondřej Mandula the following year, but the fate played a tough game with us as we were captured at 7500 at a white trap with no obvious escape for eight days. Minimal visibility, heavy snowfall and strong wind made our descent really dreadful. After the return my final account included massive frostbites on my feet resulting in more than 6 months of recovery.

It was a great breakthrough this year when we scaled the tricky rock passages above 7700 meters and reached the summit after huge endeavor. It was a combination of thin layers of loose snow and rotten granite. A terrible combination! In some sections climbing was so thin that we had to take off our gloves to look for unstable holds and make slow progress upwards. Climbing the headwall took us the whole three days. We had six bivouacs in total since the beginning of the climb, four days at a critical height between 7400 and 8000 meters. The last bivy found us at eight thousand meters right below the summit. Despite the heavy snowfall and strong wind on the north-eastern side of the mountain our descent started in the direction of the Japanese couloir and towards the plateau at 7100 meters. Next day the weather turned much better and the descent continued through the Japanese coulouir with sections of snow reaching our waists. Despite the acute avalanche danger we had no choice but to continue our descent. Our last bivouac was at the plateau at 6000 meters, from where we crossed the glacier to the Base camp the next morning. Interestingly we were the only ones to reach the summit this year so far!

Climbers: Marek Holeček (aka Mara), 43 years of age and Zdeněk Hák (aka Háček), 37 years of age
Name of route: Satisfaction! (in memory of Zdeněk Hrubý)
Difficulty: ED+ (M7,WI5+) total inclination 70°
Height: 3000m
Dates: July 25 to August 1, 2017
Duration of the climb: 8 days including the descent, 6 days to reach the summit
Summit time: July 30, round 13 hours the Pakistan time
Type of ascent: Alpine style