Trango Towers is a cliff situated in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, Karakoram Range in Pakistan. The peak stands tall at 6,286m above sea level. It is the tallest formation of cliffs located in Trango Valley. This cliff sees climbers from all around the world throughout the year. The granite faces of the peak make up for a challenging climb, and not anyone is able to excel at climbing the cliff. This cliff is situated at the north of the Baltoro Glacier. The peaks are also a part of the Baltoro Muztagh, a subrange in the Karakoram range. An Alaskan alpinist, Kelly Cordes, says,
“The Trango Valley must be the most spectacular alpine rock climbing valley in the world,”
There are several interesting things about Trango Towers that every cliff-climbing enthusiast must know of. Make sure to read till the end of this article if you want to know more!
What is the Trango Towers?
Trango Towers is the 6286 m tall cliff situated in the Karakoram range in Pakistan. It is the tallest cliff in Trango Valley and is named after the valley as well. It is an ideal mount climbing location for cliffeers and rock climbers, and it sees visitors throughout the year. It is also the world’s greatest nearly vertical drop. The Trango towers are known as one of the most difficult peaks in the world to climb. The difficulty of the route includes the technicality, the altitude as well as the steepness of the rock.
Since all the routes of the cliff are very technical, all the routes are difficult to climb, and only the most experienced climbers are encouraged to make an attempt. There are four major massifs within the Trango towers, namely, Main (6,286 m (20,623 ft)), South or Southwest (6,250 m (20,510 ft)), East (6,231 m (20,443 ft)), and West (6,223 m (20,417 ft)). The trails of the cliff are rather slippery, sloped, and snowy. Likewise, the non-snowy paths are rocky and dangerous. The Trango Tower, with the tallest height, is known as Nameless Tower by many.
History of climbing the tallest Trango Tower, The Great Trango Tower Climbs
The Trango Tower, otherwise known as the Nameless Tower, was first climbed by Britons Joe Brown, Mo Anthoine, Martin Boysen, and Malcolm Howells in 1976 from the Southwest face. Trango Tower was no less than a mere wall before this expedition. It is a fact that people, even those living close to the cliff, never saw any recreational or adventurous purposes associated with it. It was not only the mountaineers who climbed the cliff since mountaineering cameraman Tony Riley and writer Jim Curran also went with them. After the climb, Curran wrote a book called Trango: The Nameless Tower.
The Great Trango Tower is the tallest among all the other cliffs within the Trango Tower and has a height of 6286m, which is way taller than other cliffs there. The direct route is made up of 1,500m of smooth granite. The world was made familiar with the Great Trango Tower when a photo of the cliff was published in Mountain Magazine in 1983. Hans Christian Doseth, Stein Aasheim, Finn Daehli, and Dag Kolsrud later attempted to climb the cliff after they saw the photo in the magazine.
Sadly, their experience with the cliff was not fairly easy or smooth. Since their ascent was the first one ever, no one had attempted climbing the cliff before them, and there was no guidebook for climbing the cliff either. The Norwegian climbers had to give every ounce of effort they had in them to make it through the cliff climb. The dangerous conditions of the cliff did not allow for a quick climb. Therefore, with time, they ran out of food. All four of them had no extra food in store and had to have little of what they had while actively going through the cliff all day. Aasheim and Kolsrud gave up on summiting the cliff. They only went 90% up the mountain and returned back. However, Doseth and Daehli ended up summiting the peak.
The two climbers that descended saw their two partners summit the cliff from the base camp. However, the summiteers disappeared in thin air. A Pakistani search team started looking for the men after their sudden disappearance and found two dead bodies on the snowy cliff. The cause of their death remains unknown, and there are several assumptions as to how the pair died. A famous assumption remains to be that the two fell from 1,500m due to an avalanche. Since the tragic incident, the cliff route has been known as “The route of no return.”
A Japanese climbing expedition took off for the Trango Towers in 1990, but the extremity of the cliff had them return without summiting. However, with much bravery, a 33-year-old man named Minamiura, who was also an expedition leader, made a solo attempt to get to the summit of the cliff. He started off from the 1988 Kurtyka-Loretan route and descended by paragliding from the top.
Greg Child wrote in Alpinist, 2005, about the summit, “It is the closest to true alpine style that any first ascent on Trango has come, finishing the line that [Mark] Wilford and I started in 1989.”
Takeyasu Minamiura was later rescued and taken to the base camp. Other notable ascents of the cliff include that of Dennis Hennek, John Roskelley, Kim Schmitz, Galen Rowell from the South Face in 1977, John Middendorf, Xaver Bongard from the Grand Voyage (VII 5.10 A4+ WI3) in 1992, and Alex Lowe, Mark Synnott, Jared Ogden from Parallel Worlds (VII 5.11 A4) in 1999.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How tall is the Trango Tower?
The Trango Tower is 20, 623’ tall.
Where is the Great Trango Tower?
The Great Trango Tower is in Northern Pakistan.
What is the weather like in Trango Towers?
The weather in Trango Towers is mostly dry.
Who climbed Trango Towers?
The first ascent was made by Dennis Hennek, John Roskelley, Kim Schmitz, and Galen Rowell from the South Face in 1977.
How many routes does the great Trango Tower have?
The Great Trango Tower has 2 big-wall routes (and one variation) up its East/Northeast Face.
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