Pakistan’s rugged and majestic terrain is a haven for mountaineers and rock climbers, offering a wealth of challenging peaks and breathtaking vistas. Among these natural wonders, Changi Tower stands tall as a formidable rock peak, beckoning adventurers from around the world. Situated in the Nangma Valley, Changi Tower is the second-highest rock peak in the Nangma Group of mountains, following Amin Braq, and it has earned its place as a prime destination for rock climbing enthusiasts.
Nangma Valley: The Paradise of Rock Climbing
Nestled within the picturesque Karakoram Range, the Nangma Valley is often referred to as the “paradise of rock climbing.” This valley is a hidden gem, offering pristine landscapes, verdant meadows, and a tranquil ambiance that contrasts starkly with the rugged peaks that surround it. The journey to Changi Tower begins in Kanday, a charming village that serves as the starting point for trekkers and climbers.
The trek to the base camp of Changi Tower is a captivating adventure in itself. You’ll traverse lush green meadows and wander through serene forests, absorbing the natural beauty of this remote region. The approximately 5 to 6-hour hike to the base camp sets the stage for the thrilling climb that awaits.
One of the remarkable aspects of Nangma Valley is that it remains an untouched paradise for climbers. Unlike many other climbing destinations around the world, Nangma Valley is a free zone, meaning climbers do not require permits or climbing fees. This accessibility has made it an attractive destination for both seasoned climbers and those looking to embark on their first climbing adventure.
The Polish Pioneers: Changi Tower’s First Ascent
Changi Tower gained international recognition when Polish climbers Jan Kuczera and Tomasz Polok made the first successful ascent. They conquered the south-west pillar of the final (lowest) tower on the south-west ridge of Changi Tower’s east summit. This particular formation, standing at 5,820 meters, was named Barasa or Changi Peak by the climbers.
Their route, spanning from 500 to 5,820 meters, presented a formidable challenge. It included sections of slabs with no protection, making it a grade VII climb. This remarkable achievement put Changi Tower on the map as a coveted climbing destination.
Amin Massif: Changi Tower’s Grand Neighbors
Changi Tower is not alone in its grandeur; it is part of the Amin Massif, which includes Amin Peak and several other unclimbed spires. This enormous granite block, situated in the upper reaches of the Nangma Valley, adds to the allure of the region.
The rock formations within Nangma Valley consist mainly of granite, gneiss, and schist, with granite being the predominant type. This diversity in rock types offers climbers a unique and varied experience, with different challenges and techniques required to conquer each peak.
International Conquests: A Testament to Changi Tower’s Appeal
Changi Tower has witnessed several successful ascents by climbers from around the world. An all-women’s team comprising Abby Watkins, Vera Wong, and Nicola Woodford from Australia and New Zealand achieved the first ascent of “Excess Baggage” on Changi Tower, which stands at 5,300 meters. Their route led them up the main rock wall, navigating a prominent crack system and a snow slope, ultimately reaching the main summit. This climb was rated at 5.10 with A2+ difficulties.
New Zealand climbers, New Norton, and Paul Weber also made their mark on Changi Tower, charting a route that started to the left of “Excess Baggage.” They ascended through a slanting corner system, eventually connecting with the previously mentioned route to reach the North Summit.
These achievements underscore the appeal and challenge of Changi Tower, attracting climbers of various backgrounds and skill levels to explore its rugged terrain.
Changi Tower, nestled in the heart of the Nangma Valley, is a testament to Pakistan’s awe-inspiring natural beauty and its status as a rock climbing paradise. From its alluring meadows and forests to the challenging granite walls that beckon climbers, Changi Tower offers an unforgettable adventure for those willing to venture into this remote corner of the world. As climbers continue to explore its formidable terrain, Changi Tower’s reputation as a premier rock climbing destination only grows stronger, ensuring its place in the annals of mountaineering history.