K2 2017 Season Coverage: K2 Summits!!

Perseverance and courage has paid off for Mingma Gyalje Sherpa’s Dreamer Destinations’ team. They put 12 people on the summit of K2 – the first summits since 2014. There was another summit of Broad Peak and Russell Brice, announces he’s ending his guiding career.

K2 Summits!

I have written a lot this season about risk tolerances, differences of opinions and the willingness to continue when others turn back. So in that environment, Minga deserves tremendous credit for showing the leadership skills to push his members to the summit in what other highly experienced operators determined unacceptable conditions.

As I outlined in the previous post the Sherpa on this push were highly experienced with over 35 summits of Everest between them.  There was several feet of fresh snow so the Sherpa’s strength to break trail was required for anyone to summit this season. They were the engine behind this summit train. They started with 9 Sherpas but only 7 summited.

Mingma G. posted on Facebook around 5:00 am 28 July 2017:

Finally we are at the summit of Mt.K2

Mr. Mingma G sherpa

Mr. Dawa gyalje sherpa

Mr. Tsering pemba sherpa

Mr. Nima tshering sherpa

Mr. lakpa nuru sherpa

Mr. Nima nuru sherpa

Mr. Ang Tsering sherpa

Mr. Azong

Mr. Zhang liang

Miss. Jing xue

Mr.vanessa

Mr.john snorri

A sincere congratulations to all these climbers.

They spent over 16 hours to reach the summit, an extraordinarily long time. In 2014 we took 8. They summited at 4:00 pm local time and descend to Camp 4 for the night. They hope to get to base camp on the 28th.

Icelander John Snorri Sigurjónsson  becomes the first from his country to climb, and summit, K2. British-American Vanessa O’Brien will begin to claim that she is the first American Female to summit. Well done to both!

The Descent

To say the obvious, they now must descend. If the weather remains good, this will take a day or more. To be clear, they are not safe yet, by any measure. The descent from the summit is difficult, arduous, tiring and dangerous, It involves rappelling many sections where you must rig everything 100% perfectly. A mistake will cost the climber their life.

Two climbers have their GPS trackers going: Vanessa O’Brien at GPS tracker and Icelander John Snorri Sigurjónsson at GPS tracker

It appears they are back at Camp 4 at 25,080’/7600m. The summit is 28,251”/8611m.

Broad Peak Summits

And there were more Broad Peak summits on this good weather day. This time by Chinese climber Mrs. Lou Jing with two Sherpas: Nurbu Sherpa and Sanu Sherpa.

Russell Brice Ends Career – Updated

In a heartbreaking newsletter long time high altitude guide Russell Bruce announced he is ending his guiding career. I hope this is a moment of regret and will not hold.

Russ’ Himex team was on K2 in 2015, the Česen route, without a summit. Last year he subcontracted his K2 team to another operator who also didn’t summit.  In 2012, he made a gutsy and controversial decision to end his Everest expedition one month early when the hanging serac above the Khumbu Icefall threatened to collapse. It didn’t that year and hundreds went on to summit but two years later later it did taking 18 Sherpa lives in the collapse.

Russ is a logistic expert and an leader in advocating safety for members and moreover, his staff. He was instrumental in getting the Nepal government’s approval to use helicopters to ferry loads to the Western Cwm on Everest this eliminating hundreds of Sherpa trips thru the Icefall.

He is always willing to use his resources to help a climber in trouble, even if that climber was independent or on another team. He tried in vain to save David Sharp who died on the north side of Everest in 2006. Ironically he was widely, and unfairly in my opinion, criticized.

Russ prides himself in reading weather forecast and giving his member the best, safest opportunity to summit and get back safely. It was this study of the facts that lead him to cancel this year’s K2 attempt.

In his newsletter, he describes in solid detail the process he went through this season concluding the conditions were too dangerous to summit complicated by their exit logistics.

He sums up his newsletter with these startling statements:

So once again it would appear that I have made a bad judgment call, and should really be still on the hill. I came here at the request of my members because they put their trust in me. I took this on as an honor but also as a great challenge to deal with this mountain. I have failed, it is time for me to give up this game. I have enjoyed the experiences along the way, it has not made me rich or have a stable home life, but I have managed to see many parts of the world and meet many interesting people along the way. It’s time to hang up the guiding boots and put my own personal boots on.

Russ

I have know Russ for over 10 years. He is the best of the best. I want to thank him for his tremendous contributions to defining a commercial guiding culture of safety and integrity. I wish him success in his future, including, hopefully, guiding on Everest in 2018!

Congratulations to all those who summit this season and best wishes on a safe descent

Best of luck to all

Climb On!

Alan

Memories are Everything