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A Lifeline in the Wild Pakistani Mountain Range

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Graham Zimmerman is a professional alpine climber who recently traveled to Pakistan with the ambitious goal to conquer the Karakoram mountain range. He shared his story with us:


I am an alpinist. In a nutshell this means that I am an individual with a passion for climbing technical routes on the mountains of the world. I am personally drawn to the highest mountains of the greater ranges where I like to seek out steep unclimbed routes that test my physical and mental prowess.

The Pakistani Karakoram range is home to some of the most challenging and beautiful peaks on the planet. For a climber like me it is an extremely dreamy place.

This summer I had the opportunity to travel to these mountains alongside a veteran of the range, Steve Swenson and one of my oldest, dearest climbing partners, Scott Bennett. We were there to attempt the first ascent of a remote and unclimbed 21,000ft tower named Changi and an unclimbed face on a very challenging 23,000ft mountain named K6.

For a team such as ours the ethics of an ascent are as important as the ascent itself. We are climbing in a “light alpine mountaineering” style which means that we climb with only a rope between us and the gear on our backs. We consider it to be a ‘fair means’ method for climbing which leaves the mountain just as we found it.

P3230041The upshot of this is that we have to climb during windows of clear weather and need to know when bad weather is coming in so that we can move back down the mountain safely. Without reliable communication that enables us to receive weather forecasts and other important alerts, we wouldn’t know whether it’s safe to continue our adventure.  That’s why we used the Iridium Extreme®.

On these trips we need to carry the best communication tools available for the size and weight we can carry. The Iridium® ecosystem of products offered us multiple options, however the Iridium Extreme satellite phone was our best fit and allowed us to communicate with our United States-based weather forecaster who kept a close eye on local weather models. Thanks to the Iridium system we made the most out of the bad weather in the Karakoram range and came away with two very significant first ascents.

Desn - 1 - Resized Web LargeThe other major advantage of having the best satellite phone available is that in case of emergency we can call for medical advice or assistance. Fortunately on this trip we didn’t encounter any such emergencies, but there is something to be said of the comfort level a globally-connected device, like the Iridium Extreme, can provide.

Lastly, but certainly not least in importance, is that having a satellite phone allows us to stay in touch with loved ones, letting them know that we are safe.

I am very happy to report that on this trip, we did not get caught in any major storms and we climbed both Changi Tower and the South face of K6 (exactly what we wanted to do!). Most importantly, we all came home to happy partners with whom we had kept in touch while gone in the wilds of Pakistan for two months.

Huge thanks to Iridium for supporting us on this trip! We believe that they make the best satellite communications equipment and we are very happy to have it every time.  For us, it simply makes the most sense to have the best equipment that will also work anywhere we choose to go in the world.

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