Situated in an accessible, but still rather remote corner of Pakistan’s stunning Baltoro region, Spantik has rapidly become a popular destination for experienced mountaineers.
Also known as Golden Peak, the mountain rises high above the Nagar Valley and is widely considered to provide some of the best views of any mountain in the area, which is part of what attracts so many climbers to its slopes.
Another pull factor is the relative ease and lack of objective dangers (relative to a 7,000-metre/23,000-foot high peak, of course) the climb presents. The main route follows a long ridge line to the top and is not overly technical.
However, expert mountaineers often come for the Golden Pillar, one of the most strenuous and challenging climbs in the area.
Quick Facts about Spantik
- Spantik sits in the Spantik-Sosbun Mountains, a subrange of the Karakoram Mountains. It is the tallest mountain in this subrange, but is overall the 52nd highest mountain in Pakistan.
- In the local Burushaski language, Spantik is called Ganesh Chish, which means Golden Peak. It gets its name because the northern Golden Pillar reflects the light of the setting sun, giving it a golden aura.
- Climbers heading up Spantik via the normal route will first have to trek through the Nagar Valley. This is one of the highlights of the trip as it is widely considered to be one of the most scenic spots in Pakistan.
History of Spantik
The first recorded attempt to climb Spantik came in 1906, when a party led by the pioneering female mountaineer, Fanny Bullock Workman, attempted to climb the peak via the southeast ridge – the route most commonly used today. However, the party was unable to reach the summit.
The first successful effort to climb the peak would not come for another half-century. In 1955, a West German expedition led by Karl Kramer became the first one to successfully reach the top of Spantik, following the same route.
Experience Required for Climbing Spantik
When climbed via the normal route, Spantik is considered to be one of the easiest 7,000ers in Pakistan. The normal route follows a single ridge line to the summit and requires some intermediate snow, rock and ice climbing along the way.
The Golden Pillar route on the other hand is far more technically difficult. An advanced level of ice and rock climbing is required, along with intermediate snow and glacier climbing.
For the normal route, the trekking approach provides ample time to acclimatise, while some extra acclimatisation is required for the Golden Pillar route.
Both routes require a very high level of physical fitness and most guides recommend that participants spend three to six months improving endurance, physical strength and flexibility prior to the start of the trip.
Main Routes up Spantik
There are two main routes that lead up to the summit of Spantik, one of which is well-suited for intermediate climbers and another far more challenging route best reserved for advanced mountaineers.
The normal route is the one that is most commonly taken and follows the south east ridge, which stretches 7.6 kilometres (4.7 miles) from the base of the peak up the summit. The route is not overly steep as climbers will gain about 2,700 metres (8,900 feet) of elevation, ascending at an average grade of 30 to 40 degrees.
On the north side of the mountain stands the Golden Pillar, which is renowned for its magnificent views and extreme level of difficulty. After making the approach to the base of the glacier that enshrouds the pillar, climbers will set up a base camp.
From here, climbers ascend the glacier to the base of the pillar then make the 10-pitch ascent to the top. After climbing the pillar, another ascent up a series of chimneys and grooves is required before climbers reach a plateau and can continue on to the summit.