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National Geographic Exploration
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Photo: Mike Lilygren swings to his hanging camp on Pakistan's Trango Tower

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Almost a half mile up, Mike Lilygren swings to his hanging camp on Pakistan’s Trango Tower. A self-described band of cowboys from Wyoming, Lilygren and his teammates set out in 1995 to free-climb Trango, a 3,000-foot (900-meter) tooth of granite in the Karakoram Range. “If we need rope ladders to ascend a peak, then we’ve climbed our ladders, not the mountain itself,” said expedition leader Todd Skinner. Using ropes only to break their falls, they fell hard and often, taking almost nine weeks to do what traditional mountaineers might have done in days.

Photograph by Bill Hatcher
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