©Kenro Nakajima / American Alpine Journal
KAZUYA HIRAIDE - KENRO NAKAJIMA (JAPAN)
SOUTH FACE AND SOUTHEAST RIDGE, 4,000M FROM BASE CAMP, JUNE 27-JULY 3 ROUND TRIP FROM BASE CAMP.
The Hunza region of the Pakistan Karakoram holds a number of impressive mountains that fall only a few hundred metres short of the 8,000m mark. One of the most outstanding is Rakaposhi, first climbed via the southwest ridge in 1958. Whilst the south side of the mountain - leading to the crest of the great southeast ridge - had been reconnoitred in the past, it remained untouched, climbers unable to find a feasible route. An ascent from this less visible side of the mountain would be highly exploratory.
From a 3,660m base camp at the snout of the glacier, and in generally unstable weather, Kazuya Hiraide and Kenro Nakajima climbed the south face to 6,100m, both to acclimatize and confirm that their chosen line would go.
On their second outing they took three days, strenuously climbing through often deep soft snow, to reach a camp at 6,800m on the southeast ridge, where they were forced to wait two days in bad weather. After this they climbed to the summit and back in a single long day, and on the following reversed their line of ascent all the way down to base camp.
Although the route does not feature the high technical difficulties of the three other awarded ascents, its huge length, and the commitment and style of Hiraide and Nakajima's determined ascent on a rarely-climbed mountain, makes it of equal merit for a 2020 Piolet d'Or.