Nanga Parbat:

Nanga Parbat
Nanga Parbat view from Fairy Meadows

Nanga Parbat (8125 m) is the 9th highest mountain on Earth, with its main summit being one of the 14 eight-thousanders. It is situated at the furthermost Western end of the Himalayas. The massif of Nanga Parbat lies in the Northern Areas in Pakistan, and forms the border between the districts of Astore to the East, and Chilas to the West. Indus river flows to the North at an altitude of about 1200 m, thus creating an impressive difference in hight and marvellous sceneries.

The peak rises near the famous curve of Indus river close to its confluence with Gilgit river and the homonymous town. The name Nanga Parbat means The Naked Mountain, while the alternative name Diamir is translated as The King of the Mountains.

The massif has three faces, forming three main valleys, glaciers, and rivers respectively. They are named after villages that lie beneath – Rakhiot (North) face, where the mountain’s first ascent was conducted; Diamir (West or Northwest) face; and Rupal (South) face. Three ridges divide the mentioned valleys – East Ridge, connecting Nanga Parbat to Chongra Range; Ganalo Range (N-NW); and Mazeno Range to the SW.

First attempt to climb the summit was conducted in the distant 1895 by the leading British climber of that time Albert F. Mummery, who disappeared with his two Gurkha companions somewhere in the ice-falls of Diama glacier, trying to reach Rakhiot valley, after unsuccessful attempts from Rupal and Diamir slopes. Afterwards, during 1930s, several disastrous ones followed, organized mainly by Germans and Austrians, who all tried to reach the summit vie its Rakhiot face. This route is the heaviest in distance from the main summit and demands enormous preparation, as well as vigour to climb. Most of them ended with many casualties and tragedies for their members, therefore it was then named The German Fateful Mountain. First successful ascent followed the same route, and was made in 1953 by the distinguished climber Hermann Buhl from Austria, member of the German-Austrian expedition of Dr.Karl Herlighoffer. He organized it in memoriam of his half-brother Willy Merkl, who died from exhaustion on the slopes of Rakhiot face, together with Willo Walzenbach and Uli Wieland – all German elite climbers of the pre-WWII period.

Diamir face, with its 3500 m high wall, was first climbed by another German expedition of the same leader in 1962, when Tony Kinshofer, A. Mannhardt and S. Löw reached the summit, while the latter died on the descend. This route was later called German or Classical.

Nanga parbat from Tarshing
Nanga parbat from Tarshing

Rupal face, or World’s highest wall – 4500 m, with an average slope bias of 57 degrees – a marvellous creation of Nature, was first ascended in 1970 by two German speaking brothers from Italian Tyrol – Reinhold and Günther Messner, members of an expedition, again lead by Dr.Herlighoffer. After successfully accomplishing the first ascent through this direct route of Rupal wall, due to underestimation of the conditions at high altitudes, both were forced to descend via Diamir face, using Mummery’s Rib, and thus performing also the first traverse of Nanga Parbat.

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