|Elevation:||23218 ft / 7077 m|
Kun at 7077m is one of two seven thousand meter peaks in the area, the other being Nun at 7135m. The exact height of Kun varies slightly depending on the source. Nun and Kun are just a few miles apart, although they have entirely separate routes. The third highest peak of the massif, Pinnacle Peak at 6930m, is connected to Kun by a high ridge. These three high peaks all raise from a large high plateau of several square miles situated at approximately 6000m.
Kun was first climbed in 1913 by Italian mountaineers Mario Piacenza and Borelli ed Gaspard. The second ascent was not until 1971 by an Indian Army expedition. Today there are a few expeditions to Kun every summer. In late summer 2015 there were two teams on the mountain.
Regarding difficulty of the normal route on Kun, it is much harder technically than other seven thousand meter peaks such as Pik Lenin or Muztag Ata. However unlike Lenin, the predominant style of climbing Kun is with the help of Sherpas that fix ropes and carry heavy gear, which makes it much easier physically than the above seven thousand meter peaks. The technical crux of Kun is a several hundred meter ice face of approximately 50 degrees in steepness that gains access to the upper plateau at 6000m. That said, with fixed ropes this terrain is very manageable. With the use of Sherpas I would place Kun solidly in the category of easiest seven thousand meter peaks of the world. Of course it goes without saying that climbing anything of this elevation is difficult.
From Kargil one travels up the Suru valley to a village called Shafat. The distance is only approximately 50 miles, but the rough road makes for very slow going. Plan on five hours.
Below is the description for the normal route.
The route starts from the village of Shafat at what I would estimate to be around 12,000feet. The village is only inhabited in the summer, and consists of just a few houses and a police station. The hike to base camp is first through open meadows and then rough glacier moraine. Finding the right way through the moraine can be challenging. The hike from Shafat to base camp can be done in a day, but the villagers who own the horses that carry the expedition gear to base camp may want to split it up into two days.
Base camp is situated at around 14,000 feet. The base camp area is large and comfortable and can accommodate several teams. There is running water nearby.
To climb Kun you first have to get to a high plateau at around 20,000 feet. Getting up to the plateau is the technical crux of climbing Kun. There are a few ways to get there. The traditional way has camp 1 on the glacier at around 17,000 feet right below the 2,000 foot 50 degree face, camp 2 at the top of the headwall, and camp 3 at 21,000 feet at the far end of the plateau. This approach makes for a long day from base camp to camp 1 that requires glacier travel, but makes it much easier getting up the crux headwall. An alternate camp 1 is on rocks above the glacier yet several hours from the bottom of the headwall. The advantage of placing camp 1 here is it is just mostly walking on talus to camp 1 and there is running water at the camp 1. The downside is that it is too far to get to the traditional camp 2 at the top of the face from this camp 1 in one day. Therefore camp 2 must be placed halfway up the face on the one flatish section, and with placing camp 3 in the same spot at 21,000 feet at the far end of the plateau it makes for a longer day from camp 2 to camp 3.
Once on the high plateau the terrain is gentle as you slowly ascend to the high camp at the far end of the plateau. There are a few crevasses up on the plateau that are easily avoidable.
From high camp the route ascends steeply for 200 meters (at least 50 degrees at the steepest sections) to a col between Kun and Pinnacle Peak. From the col a long angling traverse on a 45 degree face leads to a false summit. This angling traverse is very tiring with ice conditions as opposed to snow. After negotiating a few cornice features above the false summit easy slopes lead to the true summit.
My trip to Kun in 2015