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Climbing the World to End Alzheimer's
Jul 232017
 
C3 on Cesen by Himex

After weeks of waiting, climbers are finally moving up on K2 and Broad Peak hoping to summit in mid week; some hope to ski down. Their plans are a bit of a gamble but with time running out they had few choices. From early reports the weather is still a factor.

UPDATE Monday 24 July: Reports from climbers and Sherpas say persistently high winds are keeping climbers at C2 on both Abruzzi and Česen routes on K2 summit push. Some are questioning if they can make summit on this window if the winds don’t let up. This is probably the last push for 2017. They hope to summit on Thursday 27 July.


Let’s start with the latest from Hari Mix on the Abruzzi route posted on his Garmin InReach from Camp 2 on Sunday 23 July:

In camp two after nine hours of serious effort. The last few hours were in violent wind/ground blizzard. Most recent forecast had 27th best so I may take rest

Climb and Hope on K2

K2 routes

K2 Routes: Abruzzi and Česen

The weather closed in around K2 for the last 10 days or so preventing anyone from climbing. An avalanche was spotted on the Abruzzi route on Friday 14 July. Mingma G Sherpa speculated that Camp 3 was swept away including their tents, oxygen bottles and other supplies. On the Česen route, Russell Brice’s team has made a several trips to Camp 3 but not higher.

All this means that the all important Camp 4, where both routes merge, has not been established. There are no fixed ropes to C4 or the summit. There is no cache of oxygen bottles for those using it high on the mountain and of course, the mountain conditions are unknown.

During the last week, it has rained at base camp and snowed up high. Teams use telescopes to inspect the upper mountain from base camp but until someone is actually there, the depth of new snow, the consolidation (or lack thereof) is unknown and, most critically, the ever present avalanche danger has not been evaluated.

Camp 3 through a telescope from K2 Base Camp

Camp 2 on the Abruzzi through a telescope from K2 Base Camp. Alan Arnette

Climbing Conditions?

Climbers can anticipate a few different scenarios:

  1. Good climbing conditions with reasonable snow depths and low winds – ideal for summiting
  2. Deep snow requiring extreme trail breaking – all teams must work together but that means crowds up high and inevitable delays
  3. High winds – risky climbing at those altitude – most teams will turn back without a summit

In almost all the scenarios, there will be a lot of people on the mountain, perhaps 50 or more. But they are spread over two routes: Abruzzi and Česen. The routes merge at Camp 4 at 24,000′. The fixed ropes will have to be placed while people climb, slowing everyone down.

Teams will have to consider carefully when they risk the bottleneck and the traverse above C4 as these are not places to sit and wait with the huge serac looming just overhead. In 2014, it took four Sherpas hours to fix the traverse while 30 climbers waited. Some may choose to forgo the rope but that is Russian roulette with several bullets in the chamber instead of one.

Climbing K2

Abruzzi Route

On the Abruzzi, teams are moving. Furtenbach Adventures put a few people on the summit of Broad Peak a couple of weeks ago then moved to K2 for the wait. They are moving up now:

K2 summit push on the way!

After some bad weather days with waiting at basecamp team started today to C1 on K2 with a possible summit day around thursday. But there is still a lot of uncertainty such as weather and conditions. It is not yet clear how much the route suffered from last weeks avalanche and how much snow is high up on the mountain. Team is highly motivated and strong and all forces are joined together for this summit push. Fingers crossed🤞

Chris Bailey declared his intentions but also acknowledge the uncertainty. He is with Lucas Furtenbach:

Well it’s come to this – heading up today for the summit push. Still a lot of variables out of our control-mainly the unknown route condition above Camp 3, and that the weather looks like we’ll have only a brief window… but that doesn’t mean much here. But on the plus side – I’m healthy, mentally in a good place, and body seems to be doing everything asked of it so far. Our tactics are still a bit up in the air, like if we’ll skip camps and which ones, but that gives us some flexibility should things change, and planning to spend as little time as possible around the Bottleneck and Camp 3 areas for safety reasons. I think this will be our one and only summit shot – all or nothing! So I guess you’ll hear from me in about a week. Or you won’t.

Kami Sherpa with Destination Dreamers on K2 in 2017

Mingma, Kami Sherpa and Kumaran of Destination Dreamers on K2 in 2017

Mingma of Destination Dreamers said they were a go. Kami Sherpa, whom I summited K2 with in 2014, is with this team. British-American Vanessa O’Brien is also on that team and at Camp 1 today.

Mingma posted yesterday:

Ready for K2 summit push. Today first members of the team left from BC. They will join other team members tomorrow at camp1.

American climber Hari Mix is also with Mingma and climbing K2 without supplemental oxygen. He gives us a great update and insight into the schedule this this post. Checkout his site with some outstanding pictures from this year on K2.

As I opened with on this post, Hari is at Camp 2 today:

Tomorrow it starts. I am attempting K2 without supplemental oxygen. We have an intricate and excruciatingly hard plan…not out of choice, but necessity. The hope for perfect conditions and a beautiful, long weather window has predictably come and gone. K2 isn’t so much inviting us up as it is allowing us a glimpse of what we need…48 or so hours of 30 km/hr or less wind on the summit before it goes back to nuking. We are betting on the 26th (historically K2’s most popular summit day…44 ascents all time) but the window could move backward to July 27-28. I suppose it could also move forward in which case we have no chance to even be in position anyway. We only have the resources (not to mention the physical strength and sheer will) for one attempt, so this is it. So my plan as it stands follows:

July 23: Direct to Camp 2

July 24: Camp 2 to Camp 3

July 25: Camp 3 to Camp 4. Leaving early so we can be in camp by noon to hydrate and rest. Departure for summit around 10-11PM.

July 26 (Technically starting late at night on the 25th): Summit day and descend as far as possible. I expect at least 12 hours up and I will descend as long as I need to get safe. I am climbing with Nima who will be on oxygen and have extra for me in case I have a problem.

July 27: If this is summit day, I will likely take an extra day on the 24th or 25th in Camp 2 or Camp 3. I can not afford to spend extra time in Camp 4 without oxygen. Otherwise, descend to BC.

July 28: Reserve/descent

I will bring my DeLorme messenger up so “Where’s Hari” will be active. However, I may not take this on summit day (I am counting grams), so don’t expect communication/updates for periods as long as 48 hours or more.

I hope I’m not being too greedy by asking K2 for a chance. After looking up at winds ripping its icy flanks for the past month, I’d say I’ve already been humbled. But luck is nothing more than preparation and opportunity. I am hyperfocused garnished with a bit of aggression. I am ready for things to be far from perfect. I am prepared to suffer. If this mountain gives me a sliver of a chance, I am going to explode.

Fredrik Strang is also headed up on a logistics permit with a Paksitan operator as does Badia Bonilla and her husband Mauricio who are also headed up.

Česen Route

Over on the Česen route, there is movement as well. Russell Brice’s Himex operation is there for the third year in a row. They hope to get it this time and have worked hard to establish the camps but have not been to Camp 4.

C3 on Cesen by Himex

C3 on Česen by Himex

Adam Parore said they were at Camp 2 today:

Good news early with the Sherps reaching C2- it remains intact with all gear and supplies. Life at BC is slow, bordering on torturous, as we await the opportunity to get going. Time is now a critical variable and that always puts a little tension into the mix. I’m feeling very relaxed- physically I am 100% fit and I can feel the power has returned- it’s difficult to explain but it manifests itself when you are gasping for breath, and the harder you push, the stronger you feel. It’s the ability to go looking for a new gear, and feeling your body respond in the affirmative. It’s a powerful feeling, and it breeds confidence, particularly up high

K2 Ski and Winter

Polish climber and skier Andrzej Bargiel is eager to see if he can complete his objective and ski nonstop from the summit. According to his website, he has already skied from the summits of Shishapangma, Manaslu, Broad Peak and Snow Leopard Peaks. He is on the Česen route.  I like this part of his biography on his site:

I am a three time champion of Poland in skialpin, the third in the general classification of the world cup, the world record holder on Elbrus and the first Pole to succeed in Shishapangma in the ski in 2013 and to go from his apex.

I came to the world on 18 April 1988. In Łętowni, near Jordanowa. I am the ninth among eleven children of Mary and Joseph Bargiel. Since little energy bursts me out. No one was able to handle me either in school or parents who tried unsuccessfully to direct my energy to work in a backyard farm.

This is a nice video take by filmmaker Bartek Bargiel using a drone of Bargiel on K2 this year (turn the sound up for this one!!)

And the Polish team of Krzysztof Wranicz, Janusz Gołąb, and Jerzy Natkański (manager)  is also on the Česen for the summit but also using this expedition as preparation for their winter attempt later this year. If they succeed, they will be the first team to summit K2 in winter. Currently, K2 is the only 8000er not summited in winter.

Broad Peak Climbing

Tunc Findik is headed up assuming good weather. He posted on 22 July:

It rained at night, and the high skies are cloudy. The team is in the main camp, and the 25-27th of July is expected to be a good weather. The team is at the BC due to the rainy weather condition. They expect to go to C2 tomorrow.

Oscar Cadiach is with Tunc and has climbed 13 of the 14 8000ers. This is his third year in a row attempting Broad Peak.

  1. Nanga Parbat (8125 m) on 07.08.1984
  2. Mount Everest (8848 m) on 28.08.1985, second climb on 17.05.1993
  3. Shishapangma (8027 m) on 04.10.1993
  4. Cho Oyu (8188 m) on 29.09.1996, second climb on 04.05.1997
  5. Makalu (8485 m) on 19.05.1998
  6. Gasherbrum II (8034 m) on 07.07.1999
  7. Lhotse (8516 m) on 23.05.2001
  8. Manaslu (8163 m) on 04.10.2011
  9. Annapurna (8091 m) on 06.05.2012
  10. Dhaulagiri (8167 m) on 25.05.2012
  11. K2 (8611 m) on 31.07.2012
  12. Kangchenjunga (8586 m) on 20.05.2013
  13. Gasherbrum I (8080 m) on 29.07.2013

source

There are a reported nine climbers left to attempt Broad Peak including two very young Americans. Hopefully they can all work together, summit and come home to talk about how 8000 meter climbs require teamwork, patience and the reward justifies the work.

Weather Forecast

For what it is worth, this is an computer generated forecast for K2 during this summit push. I would not put a lot of faith in it personally:

 

Best of luck to all!

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything

Comments

comments

  3 Responses to “K2 2017 Season Coverage: Climbing! Update 1”

  1. The 2008 K2 disaster reminds the terrible decisions made (above Camp IV) on a near-perfect summit day. Lack of coordination among climbers from multiple countries, fixing of ropes at the wrong place which eventually resulted in wastage of time allowed the climbers to reach the summit as late as 7:00 pm. Later, the falling Serac did the worst.

    The pursuit to conquer the mountain whatever it may takes make climbers act selfish, stupid and insane, not to mention the effects of extreme altitude on the human body.

    I wish and hope such kind of mistakes are not repeated ever again. Wishing well to all for July 27th.

  2. http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2014/06/02/k2-k2-dangerous-difficult/

    I think you should repost the above link one of your newer K2 posts. I was watching the extended video clip on that page, and the exposure on the bottleneck traverse had my heart in my mouth.

    Sitting comfortably ensconced in your chair at home and still being frightened by the sight on video says something about the dangers faced by K2 climbers.

  3. Thank you Alan for taking time out for the updates. Good luck & Be safe to all!!