Trango 08 – "The Free Dream" – News Before It Happens?

Sep 19: Trango 08 – "The Free Dream" – News Before It Happens? by Jack Geldard – Editor – UKC As climbing becomes more commercial, the climbers grabbing headlines are often those with the most active PR agents. On the increase is the control of news by sponsors themselves. They get exclusivity over an ascent, then feed out the news to the media outlets, maintaining control and getting valuable advertising for their products. Climbing media is small and can feel pressure (both real and perceived) from sponsors to cover the ascents of their particular climbers, and if we´re not careful, reporting of real cutting edge ascents can become secondary tosponsor driven editorial. It is also easy for a news reporter (and I include myself in this) to choose a pre-prepared press release to put on the news page, it´s quick, easy, needs no research and pleases a sponsor or advertiser. Following a more difficult to uncover story can take hours of effort, and sometimes there just aren´t enough hours in the day. However, the flip side is that without sponsors and advertising, there is no media and the climbers at the top end wouldn´t get as much time to climb.It´s not all bad news. We receive dozens of press releases at, and sometimes we run them, sometimes we bin them. Hopefully we choose the ones that are actually relevant and interesting to our readers, but I know that when time is tight, a pre-prepared press release can save my bacon. We received one yesterday and (possibly unfairly, but definitely with my tongue in cheek and with a cheeky grin), I couldn´t help but comment on an expedition obviously very adept at PR: Trango 08 – “TheFree Dream” More like: Trango08 ? ?The Free Holiday!?A European team, including Brits JerryGore and Gaz Parry have set off to attempt to free climb Trango Tower, by the famous route EternalFlame. Overten different media sources have reported on their trip, before theyhad set foot on a mountain.See the Trango 08″TheFree Dream” WebsiteUKClimbing.commentioned the trip at the base of this News Report back in June. We have received another press release from the teamyesterday ? unfortunately not filling us in on all the hard climbing theyhave been doing to justify their thirteen separate expedition sponsors(due to bad weather the team have been unable to get established on theroute proper), but to let us know about a free fleece that one of theirsponsors is giving away in a competition.Intheir email also came the report (and photo):?Check out how we are relaxing in basecamp, we have all the modcons. Phone, laptop and even TV! The only problem is we are watchingthis film for the 3rd time!… Luckily tomorrow a porter will arrivewho started three days ago from Skardu with new DVDs and petrol for ourgenerator.?Wantto know more about Trango 08 – “The Free Dream Holiday!”?You´ll be able to find out all the details – check their list oflectures already planned for next year, at Cardiff, Sheffield, Kendaland Blackburn.We wish the team the best of luck with their lectures andsponsorship deals. If they get time to do some climbing in betweenupdating their blog then we wish them well with that too! Ona more serious note, they do actually hope to do some hard climbing. The route EternalFlame, first climbed bythe German team of Kurt Albert and Wolfgang Gullich in 1989 takes the South Pillar of the Nameless Tower in the Trangogroup. Smaller and less objectively dangerous than its neighbour GreatTrango, the Nameless Tower is still a huge pillar of granite, with themeat of the route rising for around 20 pitches from a large ledgesystem known as the sun terrace. The German pair freed almost all ofthe route, with Albert doing most of the leading after Gullich wasinjured. The climb follows virtually continuous hand or finger cracks,making aid climbing relatively straight forward.The route has seen many repeats, several alpine style, with someteams climbing the route in a single push in under twenty four hours.The technical difficulty of the route is around F7b+ or E6 plus a fewshort aid sections, but most of the fast ascents have relied on aid onmuch of the hard climbing. The route saw its first all female ascent in2007, with the team aiding most of the upper sections due to recentsnow.For the hard redpoint teams, the aid has now all but been dispensed with at around F8a max. Writing for Alpinist in 2003 Denis Burdet said: ?Thereis a blank wall with bolts on Pitch 10: approximately fifteen metresof aid.?Spanish hot-shots, the Pou brothers, climbed the route in 2005 aspart of their global climbing challenge ?7 Walls, 7 Continents? andalmost freed the last remaining 15 metre aid section:?We climbed the variation to the 10th pitch. Iker free-climbedit all, but he couldn´t make it in one go, due to the stream of watergoing down the cracks. The new pitch is 50 meters long, its difficultygoing up to 8a. We called it ?Pou Brothers Variation?, and we think itis a further step to eventually free-climb the entire route.?With the line discovered and all the moves climbed free, it is onlya matter of time and conditions before the entire route goes free. Wewish the Trango 08 team the best of luck with conditions on thissection and hope they can pull off the first completely free ascent ofone of the best rock climbs in the world.The first ascent of the route was a truly epic effort from KurtAlbert, who had to lead almost all of the difficult upper pitches. Onthe final hard pitch (E5/6), after six days of continuous hard climbingat altitude, he faced a serious fall when all his runners fell out.Luckily, despite cramp and skinned fingers, he held on and completed what is now considered to be the finest big-wall rock route in the world.