13.10.2021 by Planetmountain
This summer James Price made a first ascent of Passu Sar North (6884m) and opened new routes on Passu Diar (7295m) and Maidon Sar (6090m), also referred to as Darmyani Peak, by climbing the mountain’s south ridge.
Chasing a weather window at the start of July, 26-year-old James Price set off up the Batura glacier to climb the majestic Maidon Sar 6090m, aka Darmyani Peak. He gained the Passu cwm via a new route on the north ridge of unnamed Peak 5550m. From here a 2am start up Maidon Sar’s east ridge brought him within 200m of the summit, but dangerous snow conditions forced him to turn around and continue down “abseiling off deep snow bollards in the sugary, sunbaked snow”. Price then turned his focus to the unclimbed south ridge of Maidon Sar. Starting early and gaining the ridge via a snow/rock gully at 5200m he made good progress over mixed ground to a final delicate pitch of grade IV climbing and onto the summit.
After two days in the valley Price took the opportunity to attempt a rare repeat of Ladyfinger Peak 6000m. Starting early from his camp on the Shishpar glacier Price climbed 1400m on 60° ice to reach 5800m by daybreak. However, caught out by the power of the Karakoram sun James watched as ice turned to water; “I was climbing in a waterfall, with blocks of ice hurtling by.” With few options he carved a small hole into the glacier and took shelter for the day. Unfortunately with no food and no bivy gear Price turned around at his high point just 200m below the summit.
Well acclimatised now and carrying 35kg of kit, on the 1st of September Price set off to attempt a repeat of Passu Diar 7295m. This had rebuffed 4 teams in recent years and has only one recorded ascent, in 1996 by a joint Pakistani-Japanese expedition. Using skis for the approach James broke a trail through a complicated icefall to reach the upper Passu glacier and set up a high camp at 6500m. Then on the 11th of September James summited Passu Diar via a new route, the north west face. A day later he blazed a trail up the south flank of Passu Sar North 6884m, making the first recorded ascent of this remote peak.
In between climbs James was able to organise training courses for the young alpinists and porters of these mountain villages. His plans for the future include a complete traverse of the Batura Wall; starting with Passu Sar 7478m, over the unclimbed Muchu Chhish 7453m and onto Batura Sar 7795m before descending into the Muchuar valley. He is looking for support to help with this project. When James isn’t on the mountain he enjoys his job as a healthcare assistant in a nursing home. You can follow the adventure on instagram or www.jamesprice.world.