Rakaposhi, is one of the most magnificent peak found in the world today. It is situated near the town of Gilgit and with a height of 7,788m/25,551ft it is easily climable from all sides. The peak dominates the horizon and is constantly visible from the Karakoram Highway. It looks so beautiful that the first-ever glance at it inspires charm and lures an onlooker to be in its abode. Accessing the peak is quite easy, which only adds to its attraction. The peak is surrounded by famous glaciers/valleys like Barpu, Biro, Bagrot and Pisan. In 1892, a large expedition of W.M. Conway, a British traveler and mountaineer explored the Barpu valley. The party also explored the nearby Bagrot valley. For visiting the valley, Conway had to travel from Srinagar to Gilgit over Burzil pass. This was then, the only identified and permissible route for entry to the area.
It was in the summer of 1938, that M. Vyvyan, probably a Dutch national and R. Campbell Secord, a British national carried out, for the first time, a reconnaissance of the mountain. They entered if from Jaglot nullah and inspected its south and north ridges. In mid July they reached the north-western peak of the mountain (about 6,858m/22,500ft) through the north ridge. They were of the opinion that although it was long, the route could take a strong party to the top. In 1946, R.C.F. Schomberg, a British national, visited Gilgit and Bagrot nullah. He describes in minutest details the topography etc. of the area.
Subsequently in 1947, Tilman and his party attempted Rakaposhi peak from the Kunti glacier to a point at 6,200m/20,340ft on the south-west spur. The party was unable to reach the 2,000-foot snow slope popularly known as "The Monk's Head." Tilman and Gyr then climbed on to the north-west ridge of the mountain between north-west peak and the summit at about 6,096m/20,000ft.
In 1954, six climbers and five scientists of a German-Austrian expedition, and two Pakistanis, Captain Shah Khan and Daud Beg, examined Bagrot and Dainyor valleys for possible approach to Rakaposhi. Like Conway, they found that the approach was completely blocked by a sheer ice-wall. They were of the opinion that the peak could not be climbed through these valleys. Reconnaissance from Jaglot also proved futile. Also in 1954, members of Cambridge University Karakoram expedition went to Rakaposhi. Two members of the expedition, George Band and Dr. Alfred Tissieres, climbed a smafi peak (6,005m/19,700ft) on the north-west ridge before abandoning it as a possible route. The party then tried the south-west spur which connects with the south-west ridge at the Monk's Head. Base camp was set-up at Kunti glacier. The party went up to 6,340m/20,800ft but bad weather and shortage of time forced it to return to the base camp. Major-General M. Hayauddin of the Pakistan Army also accompanied this expedition.
In 1956, a joint Anglo-American expedition, which was also accompanied by Pakistan Army's Captain Fazl-e-Haq, tried to climb Rakaposhi. It is thought that Captain Fazl-e-Haq is the same officer who later became Lieutenant-General and was appointed as Governor of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. He, however, contradicts it in a soldierly straight-forward manner. The party set up a base camp at Kunti glacier, with six more camps later it was able to reach 7,163m/23,500ft. Bad weather and other factors, however, brought it's high climbing to a close.
In 1958, a British-Pakistan forces expedition tried its luck on Rakaposhi. It was led by Captain Michael E.B. Banks and included veteran Captain Shah Khan of Gilgit Scouts (who later became a Group Captain in the Pakistan Air Force) and Captain Raja Muhammad Aslam of the Punjab Regiment (Pakistan Army). Group Captain Shah Khan, a member of the royal family of Hunza, had always dreamt of climbing Rakaposhi. Fortunately, his son, Major Sher Khan of Pakistan Army accomplished this feat. (Major Sher Khan, an ace-climber in the footsteps of his father, was awarded the President of Pakistan Medal for Pride of Performance for his exploits on K2 and other big Pakistani mountains).
The party attempted the peak through the Monk's Head. Due to severe cold, it used additional "down-filled-clothing and 136 vapour-barrier boots". The leader, Captain Bank, and Lieutenant T.W. Paiey of the Royal Navy, climbed the peak. Banks had frost-bitten feet while Patey had frost-bitten hands. The party did not use oxygen. Just nearby is Rakaposhi (East) peak with a height of 7,290m/23,917ft. Another nearby peak is Rakaposhi (East-East) peak which has a height of 7,010m/23,000ft and was climbed in 1985 by an Austrian expedition which was led by Eduard Koblmuller. The party had originally thought, that, the height of this peak was 6,900m, but after the climb, from Diran peak's side, it placed put the height to 7,010m. During the descent from this peak, one member, Gerald Fellner slipped, fell down and despite medical attention, died in the night. Rakaposhi still holds its charisma for the most adventorous of souls! Would you like to make an attempt???