ISLAMABAD: The Trango Towers in Pakistan’s Karakoram Range, known for attracting elite rock climbers to their iconic spires, have now witnessed an astonishing feat that defies the imagination - a ski descent, said the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP).

For ace skiers Jim Morrison, Christina Lustenberger and Chantel Astorga, the journey to ski the Great Trango Towers was fraught with challenges.

“We hustled, we waited, we roasted, and we sent,” Alpine Club of Pakistan Secretary Karrar Haidri said while quoting one of the three skiers on Sunday.

“This line is wild like no other, [an] edge of the world kind of experience. To be up there, in the flow, climbing and skiing was real-life magic,” Mr Haidri quoted the climber as saying.

Jim Morrison and Lustenberger were on their second attempt to conquer the Great Trango Towers’ slopes, while Chantel Astorga was new to the bold endeavour.

“I always thought I would visit the Trango Towers for climbing,” she said on her social media account. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that my first trip to the Karakorum Range would be for skiing,” Karrar Haidri quoted another member of the trio as saying.

The ACP said that typically, the Trango Towers were visualised as three vertical granite spires piercing the sky. However, the Great Trango Towers as tall as 6,286 metres revealed a different face on its south and west sides, with alpine-like ridges and gullies.

The team climbed and skied down the West Face, establishing a high camp at 5,000 metres during their ascent.

Karrar Haidri said that the timing was crucial for the trio. The skiers ventured out in the spring, before the summer heat could melt the snow blanketing the tower. They discovered a narrow, continuous line along the edge of the ridge, as the climbers described.

The climbers were able to find a way to do the ski descent by imagining a ski line from its summit, the ACP secretary said. What seemed impossible based on its massive vertical wall became a goal due to a natural winding ribbon of snow and ice from its summit.

Karrar Haidri said this expedition held deep emotional significance for Morrison and his group, marking his first major goal since the tragic loss of his partner, Hilaree Nelson, who fell to her death near the summit of Manaslu during a ski descent.

Lustenberger and Astorga, also close to Nelson, had dedicated some of their finest skiing lines to her memory.

Karrar Haidri said further details of their remarkable journey would be shared in due course, accompanied by a documentary capturing the climb and ski descent.

Leo Hoorn, Erich Roepche and Savannah Cummins documented the expedition, their photographs vividly illustrating their incredible story.

Previously, Morrison was part of a high-profile North Face team aiming to ski down one of Everest’s face, an attempt thwarted by bureaucratic issues before it even began. This latest achievement at the Trango Towers stood as a testament to the spirit of adventure and the enduring drive to push beyond the boundaries of the possible,” the ACP secretary said.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2024

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