A small Iranian expedition has climbed new terrain on the southwest side of Broad Peak. While the line is not independent, the top section appears difficult and committing.
A much larger Iranian team first tried this line in 2009. It begins well to the right of the Normal Route, climbing a southwest facing rocky rib to reach the crest of the south-southwest spur at 6,226m.
This appears to be the same spur that the Mexican Carlos Carsolio climbed solo, and in alpine style, in 1994, though Carsolio climbed much of it on the right flank, whereas the Iranians are likely to have followed the crest more diligently.
Carsolio found difficulties of UIAA V and 70°. The Iranians overcame a 30m overhanging loose rock step, and towards the top a section of 75° ice. They fixed 1,600m of fixed rope.
Above, the crest of the spur becomes a knife-edge with gendarmes, features that Carsolio mentioned in his description and which gave him some trouble. Above a snow dome at 6,290m the spur merges with a large inclined glacial plateau, which rises steadily to join the Normal Route at 6,800m.
Carsolio reached the Normal Route but was forced down by inclement weather. He descended the Normal Route, only to return by this line later and solo a new route to the summit.
The Mexican moved right from the standard Camp 3, climbing steep mixed terrain and hard rock directly to the Foresummit. From there he traversed easily to the main top. He self-belayed the difficulties, and close to 8,000m made multiple attempts on a strenuous grade V diedre before finally succeeding.
In 2009 two of the Iranian team, following Carsolio's lower route across the plateau, reached the standard Camp 3 at around 7,000m but altitude sickness forced them down.
Immediately prior to this Iranian attempt the rib had climbed in alpine style by French Ludovic Giambiasi and Elizabeth Revol. They reached the crest of the spur in two days, but large amounts of early season snow made onward progress too dangerous.
This year there were only five members in the Iranian team. Following the same route as the 2009 expedition, Aidin Bozorgi, Pouya Keivan and Mojtaba Jarabi reached Camp 3 and left for the summit on 13 July.
Their plan was to traverse out right on a lower line than that followed by Carsolio, then slant across mixed terrain and snow to reach the main summit directly.
It proved difficult. The three made a bivouac (with tent) at 7,350m, and the following day could climb no more than 100m to a second bivouac at 7,450m.
From there they made better progress, bivouacking again at around 8,000, before reaching the summit on 16 July, with plenty of time left that day to reverse the Normal Route to Camp 3.
But it was not to be. Despite communicating that they were in reasonably good shape on the summit, they made two more bivouacs before reaching the 7,900m col (on the Normal Route below the Foresummit) on the 18th.
At the time of writing it appears they are still in the vicinity of the col, but with no food or water, no shelter as their tent had been blown away, totally exhausted and with one member in a poor state, they are unable to move any further.
A full scale rescue has been implemented but the first attempt, by two Pakistan high altitude porters, trying to reach the climbers directly from Camp 3, failed.
This report will be updated after the weekend