It’s been a difficult week in Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountain range. Heavy snow brought most teams to a complete halt forcing them to stay at base camp. Over a foot was reported at some camps. With this amount of heavy snow, the smart move is to wait for it to settle and that takes days for this amount.
We all know that snow is part of 8000-meter climbing and what is happening now in Pakistan not that unusual. In 2015 and 2016 dangerous snow conditions prevented all summits on K2 and last year, only one team summited and that took an unusually strong team of Sherpas breaking trail for two clients. Will this snow event stop soon? Who knows. The computer forecasts available on the Internet give a hint but are often, very often wrong. So the teams at all five 8000ers need to be patient and ready to move higher when the weather calms and the snow settles.
One concern however, is that almost all the teams are now at base camp so when the window opens, there could be a bit of a rush. Real Estate is limited on these peaks with spots often supporting only a handful of tents – 3, 4, 5 at most. I’ve seen tempers flair as climbers literally fight to get a spot for their teams. Let’s hope the leaders are talking and coordinating activity, but it is tough and often degrades to every team for themselves.
Japanese climber Akira Oyabe sums up the situation at K2 Base camp: “6/23-28: a week in bc with strong wind and snow (30 cm snow in BC).” That’s 12 inches, one foot. They had fixed the rope almost to C3 but they are buried now and it will take a lot of work to retrieve them.
BC, 29 June – how to say!, from the same to the same? Today because of the lack of blowers and the owner of a single snow shovel, we made originality to free the passages between tents (read igloos) and toilet using containers and barrels of barrels 😉. We finally suspended the flag of Canada and Quebec from Pakistan, always easier to have a visit 😉. We always hear avalanches around us and we have no visibility.
We went to visit dawa, owner of seven summits. A Nepali as we know them, super nice! He will have 29 people on the mountain and everyone comes from another 8000 m in Nepal so everyone is already acclimatised. We’ll have to wait for the snow to stop and stabilize… for now, our forecasts: Saturday to Sunday ok… we will resume the rise to c1 and c2 only when conditions will be safe, when the snow will be good Stabilized.
Broad Peak – Snow
Furtenbach Adventures spent one night at Camp 1. They posted last this week: “Dumping again. Broad Peak basecamp this morning.”
Carlos Garranzo on Broad Peak added this update, “They are trapped in their tents Base Camp Broad Peak , with freezing cold, buried under more than half a meter of snow and now snowing.”
Gasherbrum – Snow
Adam Bielecki says sums it up for almost all the teams with “It keeps snowing. Any activity above the base camp is on hold because of serious avalanche danger. We play chess, get bored and as the other teams are waiting for better weather conditions.” He should know as he was on K2 this past winter and is a world-class climber. If says stay put, you stay put. He along with fellow Polish climber Jacek Czech and Felix Berggot the route to Camp 1 from Gasherbrum I before the snows hit. All the lines are burned now. They are targeting the Gasherbrums, starting with GII, then hoping to open a new route on the East Face of GIV.
Nanga Parbart – Snow
Mike Horn left base camp citing bad current and forecasted weather. It appears unlikely he will return this season. Alex Gavan along with Turkish climber Tunc Findik are also there but no new reports. Maya Sherpa is also there and gave us this update:
First Nepali Women Expedition 2018 to Mt Nanga Parbat (Maya Sherpa). After fixing camp 3 n half way successfully. Now resting basecamp wit all team. Weather going very bad till 29th June. Waiting for good weather hope next week will be summit push. Wish her all the very best n success n safe.
Death on Ulter Sar
ExplorersWeb is reporting Austrian climber Christian Huber has died in an avalanche that hit his tent at Camp Two on Ulter Sar (7338 m), Pakistan. Ultar Sar is the southeastern-most major peak of the Batura Muztagh, a subrange in the Karakoram.
Weather is the Wildcard
As usual, its all about the weather in the Karakoram. This deep snow is not all that unusual but if it hangs on for two more weeks, the ropes will be in late, acclimatization schedules will be altered and the climbers will begin to feel the squeeze as most plan to leave in early August. It’s still too early to sound the alarms, but it does warrant a close watch on the weather forecasts … obviously.
Memories are Everything