Ultar I & Ultar II Expedition


Ultar II (also known as Ultar (7388m), Ultar Sar, and Bojohagur Duanasir II) is the most south-easterly major peak of the Batura Muztagh, which constitutes the western end of the main Karakoram crest. The mountain lies on the border between the district of Hunza to the south and Gojal to the north. While not being the highest peak in the Batura Muztagh it is one of the most impressive due to its elevated position above the Hunza Valley and also because of the mountain’s shear steepness. Ultar II is the main peak of the two summit massif of Bojohagur Duanasir. The other summit is Ultar I or North (also sometimes called Ultar West, also known as Bojohagur Duanasir), which is marginally lower at 7329m. The lower peak is actually northwest of the main peak explaining the name discrepancy. It can only be assumed that whoever named the higher peak the no. 2 peak was unaware that it was marginally higher or viewed the massif from the SW and simply named the peaks from left to right. The main summit is believed by local myth to be where a fairy queen once lived in a crystal palace.

Ultar II is a difficult and dangerous mountain to climb with significant avalanche risk. Between 1986 and 1996 there were more than 15 expeditions to the mountain from six or seven countries. This is an unusually high amount for a Karakoram peak of this size and difficulty. Despite the high volume of attempts there was no summit until 1996 with only a significant number of fatalities to show for their efforts. The majority of attempts on the mountain were made from the south and west sides with the long south ridge being the most popular. Attemepts have also been made from the north but have largely been futile due to the significant objective danger. The Western peak had been previously climbed in 1984 by three Japanese climbers.

1996 bought not one but two successful ascents of the mountain via different routes. The first ascent was made by Akito Yamazaki and Kiyoshi Matsuoka from the Japan Alpine Club Tokai Expedition. The pair climbed the southwest side of the mountain via the avalanche prone Ultar Glacier in an almost alpine-style fixing 450m of ropes on the lower half of the ascent and using a few fixed ropes from previous expeditions higher up. Having left advanced base camp on 3rd July they reached the summit on the 11th. The eight day ascent was largely due to the mountain’s technical difficulties than anything else. Having summited, the pair’s luck took a turn for the worse. While descending the following day the weather deteriorated and the pair was forced to bivouac in their tent at 6000m for the next five nights with hardly any food or water. On the 17th the weather finally improved and they continued their descent and reached advanced base camp on the 19th – sixteen days after first leaving it. The following day Yamazaki began to feel sick with violent stomach ache. Next day his condition worsened and he sadly died at 11pm before a helicopter could evacuate him. Matsuoka’s fate was no better as he died only a year later while attempting the nearby rock spire of Bubuliomoting (Lady Finger). Yamazaki was only 28 when he climbed Ultar, Matsuoka only 24. The Japanese Alpine Journal Report is available HERE

The second ascent was made by a Japan Kathmandu Club Expedition via the south ridge on 31st July 1996. The climbers fixed 4000m of rope from 5200m to 7300m. Leader Ken Takahashi along with four other climbers Masayuki Ando, Ryushi Hoshino, Waltaru Saito and Nobuo Tsutsumi made the summit. This was Ken Takahashi’s third attempt on the mountain after failed attempts in 1986 and 1993.

The Southeast Pillar (or Hidden Pillar) of Ultar rises 3000m and has been referred to as the ‘Walker Spur of the Karakoram’ by some. The crux is most likely the rock barrier around 7000m however nobody has attempted the upper half of the route. To date there have been two attempts (that I am aware of), both of which have ended in failure relatively low down the route. A third attempt is due in 2007 by Colin Haley and Jed Brown.

With current Ministry of Tourism promotions Ultar is comparatively very cheap to climb at present as are all peaks in the Batura Muztagh

01           Arrival Islamabad, Transfer to Hotel city tour & money                           changing in the evening

02           Drive to Chilas (10 hours)  o/n Hotel

03-04      Drive to Hunza (6 hours) and final preparation o/n Hotel

05           Trek to the Base Camp o/n Tents

06-34       Climbing  Days

35           Trek to hunza o/n Hotel

36           Drive to Gilgit o/n Hotel

37           Flight to Islamabad or drive to Naran/Besham  Hotel

38           Free day in Islamabad o/n Hotel

39           Reserve day in Islamabad o/n Hotel

40           Homebound flight