While I was gone on Rainier, lots happened around the climbing world. It seemed that July 31, 2012 was magic in the Karakorum with record summits on K2 plus the only summits on Broad Peak across the gully the same day. Those who waited for another window, never got higher than mid mountain. Elsewhere there was more tragedy in a very, very difficult 2012 for mountaineering. Finally, some gear news and random tidbits.
K2 Summit Rush
It was a good year for K2 climbers with a single day record of 28 climbers topping out on July 31 via the Abruzzi Ridge. The season totals will end up around 30. Only six climbed without supplemental oxygen, a bit unusual because most K2 climbers traditionally do not use gas.
The large group of summiters included a team of 16 Nepalese Sherpas led by Chhang Dawa Sherpa plus three Chinese, an Iranian and a French and Turkish climber. They were all part of the International Seven Summit Trek.
Of note, the climber who allegedly faked his K2 summit back in 2010, Christian Stangl, was reported to have really made it this year. Stangl is working on an ambitious project to summit the three highest peaks on each continent – 21 mountains. He only has one remaining.
One climber I followed who did not summit K2 due to storms and avalanches was Al Hancock. He tried to acclimatize on Broad Peak, but got stormed out there as well. He was about a week behind the main push on K2. It is tough to get on a Karakorum peak these days much less two but good effort on his part.
Gasherbrum Summits, and Attempts
Gasherbrum I and II played tough again this year with avalanches and bad weather. There were a few summits on Gasherbrum II including a team from Spain and the Iranian brothers Reza and Sohbatollah Bahadorani.
One of the few, if not only, American climbing in Pakistan this summer was Rob Stringer who did a nice job of documenting his Gasherbrum I attempt thwarted by avalanches. He was on a team lead by Canadian climber Louis Rosseau who summed up a difficult effort with the statement that he will not try to finish all of the 14 8,000m mountains leaving G I the last one unclimbed now after three attempts:
With the death of Gerfried this year plus two other friends on G1 I cannot risk my life on G1 anymore. For me now, there no more are 14 peaks over 8000m, only 13 (lucky number anyway!) Gasherbrum 1 is not on my climbing list anymore. After 3 expeditions on the same mountain, I’m done with this peak. G1 is my own Annapurna. It took everything from me and I have to rebuild myself again. Yesterday in BC during dinner, two important new friends told me, ‘Louis now you’ll you have to find yourself’. This is exactly what I will do… and the adventure continues. Next update will be from Skardu, I’m leaving BC tomorrow!
Broad Peak Deaths
According to the Pakistan Alpine Club, Broad Peak had 13 summits on July 31. However, sadly, 35 year-old Pakistani climber Mohammad Baqir died from a fall on Broad Peak. He was with a British team. Also a Czech climber, Zuzana Hofmannova is reported dead on Broad Peak from a fall.
Avalanche Deaths in Peru
Colorado climbers Ben Horne and Gil Weiss were found dead at the base of the Southwest ridge of Palcaraju Oeste, a 6110m peak in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca Range. After 13 days of no contact, they were reported missing and an extensive search involving Peruvian authorities resulted in finding their bodies. It appears they were hit by an avalanche and assumed they were descending after their summit. This takes the death toll in the Cordillera Range to eight this season.
Nanga Parbat Update
It is now confirmed that Sandy Allan and Rick Allen summited alone on the worlds ninth highest peak, Nanga Parbat at 8126m. They achieved this summit via the never before completed Mazeno Ridge taking over 13 days. Epic TV has a nice interview with Sandy Allen where he describes the climb and the decision to split up the team (at 18:50) in a wonderfully humble manner.
No Solo in Nepal
After the brutal murder of a trekker in Nepal’s Langtang National Park, the Ministry of Tourism now requires all trekkers have at least one guide or porter.
Denali Season Ends with Rescue
A difficult season finally came to an end on Mt. McKinley after two feet of snow over 24 hours caused most of the teams to retreat. However a team of three Danish climbers stuck it out at the High Camp determined to go for the top seemingly regardless of the conditions. They were the only team left in a season that saw the lowest summit rate in 13 years and the second lowest in 25 years at 40%.
Going for the summit, the Danes were hit by an avalanche on a variation of the standard Autobahn leg just above the High Camp at 17K. Two of the climbers were injured. The team was able to contact a sightseeing plane who called for a dangerous rescue by the National Park Service.
All the California 14,000′ mountains in 62 hours 3 mins ? Yup, Sean O’Rourke did it on August 1, 2012.
Elite Climbers Talk Everest
At the recent Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, a group of elite, sponsored climbers sat down in a round table environment to talk about Everest. You can read some outtakes on Elevation Outdoors. I was struck at how they seemed supportive of Everest after hearing so much trash talk about Everest from the climbing community recently. Another nice interview is on EpicTv of Conrad Anker where he takes a balanced approach to some of the more controversial issues.
It is tough to find a solid review of new gear that do not pander to the advertising dollars. Outdoor GearLab does a nice, albeit, limited job. And of course my own incredibly limited (and personal) gear list and reviews
Usually I’m a bit jaded by all the claims of “new and improved” as exemplified by the “down wars” between DownTek and DriDown (water proof down). But a couple of announcements caught my attention: the new generation of lightweight helmets especially the one from Black Diamond Vapor at only 6.5 ounces. It is a unique construction of Kevlar and carbon rods that are sandwiched between layers of foam creating a light dome that provides excellent protection. It is available in early 2013 at $140..
Also it seems that uber climber Ueli Steck is now a gear designer (watch out Ed V.) with designs with Scarpa and Mountain Hardwear. By the way, there is talk that the OR Show may leave Salt Lake for a different venue.
A new book written by IMG guide Mike Hammil is a wonderful resource for anyone looking to climb one or all of the 7 Summits. Simply called Climbing The 7 Summits, Mike takes each mountain and follows the same format to describe, preparation, logistics, and routes. A nice job on a diverse subject. If you are considering the 7 Summits or would like one for your library, this is a good choice.
The next big climbs are back in the Himalayan with climbs on Cho Oyu, Manaslu and Ama Dablam among others. No word if there is to be a fall Everest expedition yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
Memories are Everything