Himalaya Fall 2009: Shisha Pangma TRUE summit report.

(MountEverest.net) To be a journalist worth your salt does not come down to witty articles, flashy assignments, big name newspapers or pretty awards. A true reporter provides equal scrutiny to all, no matter personal preference.

This can be a difficult task.

“Pending,” ruled ExWeb about Andrew Lock’s Shisha Pangma summit when the climber, bound by a contract with Australian media, could not provide summit images for our stats checkers.

We had followed Andrew’s climbs for years, and were happy to break news on his final 8000+meters summit. In the aftermath of lies reported on Shisha during the fall 2009 season though, we were forced to ask every team claiming to have reached any high point on the mountain for details – including Andrew.

“I don’t make false claims”

“Let’s be very clear: I have returned to Shisha Pangma on five expeditions to make the true summit – I don’t make false claims,” says Andrew about his final 8000er, bagged on October 2nd.

Lock and British mate Neil Ward were the only to reach Shisha’s Main summit this fall, after climbing from the north side via a variation of Iñaki’s route. Hard weather forced the two climbers to improvise an open bivouac on descent.

While a debrief was posted on Lock’s website on October 8th, the climber got a contract with the Australian Geographic Society for a complete article and photos to be published in January – so no summit pics were available on his website. “Anyway, we were in cloud (as we summited), so there was very little view,” Andrew later told ExplorersWeb.

But here goes an image shot by Andrew from Shisha’s Main summit, pointing along the ridge towards the Central, including details and GPS readings from summit day.

Andrew & Neil’s summit day, step by step

“Neil and I traversed east across the north face from camp 3 to a rib pretty much in line with the true summit, and then went straight up,” Andrew explained.

”Once we’d traversed east under the north face from camp 3 we climbed fairly directly straight up. When we came up under the 3 fingers of rock at about 7600 metres, we climbed to the left of them (to the east) and continued straight up to the summit ridge.”

Topping-out from the east side of the ridge

“When we hit the ridge about 2pm, we were to the east of the main summit. That means we were NOT between the Main summit and Central summit; instead we were on the part of the ridge that most of the routes on the south face come up to. It was quite broad, but as we started up towards the Main Summit, the ridge became quite sharp.”

“We climbed to a point probably only 25 metres in altitude below the true summit but then had a long traverse to the summit. On that section, we traversed under a long square-shaped serac. When we finally got to the end of that serac, we were right beneath the true summit – and it was an easy walk up to the top.”

Worsening weather and GPS readings

”The weather was clear when we started in the morning and was good pretty much until we got to the 3 fingers of rock. Then it started to cloud over. It was patchy cloud though and we could still see glimpses of the ridge that goes from Camp 3 to the central summit.”

“I carried a Garmin Foretrex GPS and took 3 readings on the summit day:”

“The first waypoint was filed up was at the end of the traverse across the north face from camp 3 where we started to head straight up the face through the seracs. The reading showed N 28 deg 21.744 min; E 85 deg 46.875 min; Altitude 7454 metres.”

“Second was where we finally topped out from the north face onto the main summit ridge (to the east of the main summit, NOT between the main summit and the central summit). It read N 28 deg 21.114 min; E 85 deg 46.891 min; Altitude 7951 metres.”

“Final reading was checked on the Main Summit, where I got the following data: N 28 deg 21.124 min; E 85 deg 46.772 min; Altitude 8020 metres.”

Notes on the route

“Looking at previous routes on the area, I reckon that Neil and I traversed across the face via the route previously followed by the Russians, before heading directly up the face via the Inaki route, and then continued to the top close to, the Austrian route. So our line was a combination of 3 existing routes.”

“I DID IT!,” Andrew Lock reported from Shisha’s BC on October 4th. “I summitted the true summit of Shishapangma at 5.05pm, October 2nd, together with Neil Ward.” The achievement made Andrew the 18th man to ever summit the 14 8,000ers, and the first Australian.

Himalayan quests such as Andrew Lock’s demand major sacrifice – often spanning decades – in terms of financial and private life, not to mention the very real risk of death.

False summit claims steal not only from these mountaineers, but every honest soul in the mountains. The community has in later years commenced self-policing where the top climbers – leading by example – often are subject to the hardest scrutiny.

* Previous story :

Himalaya Fall 2009: Shisha Pangma true summit special report, part 1.

Himalaya Fall 2009: Shisha Pangma special, part 2 – Central Summit, virtually there?

Himalaya Fall 2009: Shisha Pangma special report final: false summit claims – and the winner is…

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