One usually imagines vagabonds something different than a software developer and an aeronautical engineer from the USA. Priti and Jeff Wright, a climbing couple in their early 30s from Seattle, call themselves “Alpine Vagabonds“. They have now realized a real coup in the Karakoram in Pakistan.
First ascent of the Central Summit
At first they succeeded in the only third ascent of the 7,040-meter-high K6 West in Alpine style last Thursday. “So cold! So windy!”, wrote Priti and Jeff Wright in a message sent via their GPS tracker. The technically demanding West Summit had been first climbed in 2013 by Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welsted. The two Canadians had been awarded the “Piolet d’Or”, the “Oscar of Climbers”, for their achivement. In 2015 the US climbers Graham Zimmerman and Scott Bennett had opened a new route on K6 West.
Priti and Jeff, however, did not descend after their summit success, but traversed to the 7,100-meter-high Central Summit. By their own account, they reached the point that no one had ever climbed before on Friday. At the same time, they let their Pakistani liaison Ali Saltoro know that they would no longer continue on to the Main Summit, but rather descend. In the meantime, the Wrights have returned safely to base camp. In 1970, a four-member Austrian team led by Edi Koblmüller (1946-2015) had reached the highest point of K6 for the first time.
Sabbatical to climb mountains worldwide
Priti and Jeff, who have been married since 2012, retired from their professional lives for a year at the end of 2019 – for a sabbatical to experience “even more remote Remoteness, more alpine-y Alpinism, and more adventurous Adventure”. First, they traveled to Patagonia and scaled the legendary Cerro Torre. From there they went on to Europe. Within four months – of which they were stuck in France for eight weeks due to the Corona pandemic – they climbed the six great north faces of the Alps: Eiger (March), Petit Dru (May), Matterhorn (June), Cima Grande (July), Grandes Jorasses (July) and Piz Badile (July).
They came to K6 together with their compatriot Colin Haley, who is much better known in the scene and also comes from Seattle, but now lives in Chamonix. Colin had – as reported – prematurely ended his expedition due to health problems. Priti and Jeff went through with their project and were rewarded with a remarkable success in the end. Their mountaineering sabbatical record is already impressive.