Around Nanga Parbat on skis by Yannick Graziani

The karakoram in its purest form!

It's been a while since my first idea to go around the Nanga Parbat with skis, 5 years ago!

With my friend Petter we went to Pakistan in April to tour the Nanga Parbat, skiing. We completed only half of the tour because the weather seemed a little capricious. We have been friends with Petter for 15 years, and we have already made two expeditions together.

He's a great guy, strong and enthusiastic, he's the perfect partner for this kind of adventure. Always in a positive mood and in these mountains which are the size of the giants we need to be imaginative The trip was simple in organization and 48 hours after our departure from Europe we ended up south of Nanga Parbat, at Tarishing, the last village Rupal slope. We decided to go around counter-clockwise in order to have stabilized snow conditions to climb the first southern slopes. The craziest was to go into the unknown, with a map that dates from the first German expedition that covers only half of the route. It's 40 years old! But I had spent a while on Google Earth before I left to spot all the passages and the high passes. In total there are 9 passes between 4000 and 5300 meters high. We crossed 6, the rest will be for next time. It seems to me that this tour can become a classic ski tour, and probably one of the most beautiful overall. No, do not be afraid of Pakistan, it is a country in full development that encourages tourists to visit its unusual mountains. We must get away from the ideas usually received on the danger of terrorism. At each pass, we wondered if the next pass was the one we saw on the map, so we had consulted. Is it rather this one or that one?

We always agreed on the path to be followed and decisions made in two avoided doubts: when we agree, it means that reason necessarily prevails, logic prevails, and we have not made any mistakes. But when one goes into the unknown, doubt invades us. It is normal for us to see the right things, and it is on the ground that it is decided. After each pass, we went downhill and it was always with a certain apprehension. 50% of the decision was made at each pass and the remaining 50% was made after reaching the next pass, behind which we understood that we were in the right place. What a fantastic feeling to be on the right path on the flanks of Nanga Parbat, this unique and wonderful mountain. It is also the essence of mountaineering to understand that we are where we need to be, and where we were in this immense bare ground, we fully enjoyed this satisfaction, two black dots lost in the immensity.

We regularly found our staff who while we were skiing went around by jeep, from valley to valley, and joined us or there was snow to avoid us too long walks. To ensure a proper rest and refuel to continue the sequence. The difficulties lie mainly in the stability of the snow and the weather that can be complicated there. That's why after 10 days, getting to meadows, the Rahkiot Valley north of Nanga Parbat, we decided to stop. The weather was becoming unstable. Safety first, risk-taking had to be reasonable and not stupid. The rest will be done next time, I am sure, this half route was so great that the whole tour must be the “non-plus-ultra” of ski touring. I embrace you all, mountaineers and skiers from all walks of life! Long live adventure!

Article and pictures by Yannick Graziani, May 2019.

Yannick Graziani, 45 years old, Grivel athlete for 20 years, based in Chamonix (France). Versatile mountaineer, he practices rock climbing, ski touring, classical alpinism and hight commitment climbing in Himalayas.
Favorite Grivel product: G22 crampons.