After almost a week of inactivity due to heavy snow, climbing has returned to the five Karakoram 8000ers but some climbers are saying 2018 is not a safe year and are leaving. This is similar to 2015 and 2016 when no one summited K2, and only a few on other 8000ers. The Karakoram has always had highly variable weather and 2018 is shaping up as a doozy.
It’s been a difficult past 10 days in Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountain range with the heavy snow keeping most teams at base camp and loading the upper slopes. The avalanche danger is high. However, today’s reports have the snow over and climbing has restarted but the forecast for Wednesday calls for more snow so this respite may be short-lived. The best teams will still give it a few days to settle. Remember that after “disappearances”, avalanches are the leading cause of death on K2.
At some point in every expedition, delays will occur. Sometimes its health, other its weather but the stall in climbing always grates on the climber’s nerves. The experienced climbers expect these delays and take them in stride, others tend to get anxious and grumpy. Often this period tests the team dynamics and the skills of the leaders. Communication is critical to maintaining a sense of optimism balanced with a realistic assessment of the situation.
K2 – Climbing to C2
Climbing has resumed on K2 with climbers spread out from base camp to Camp 2. Several teams seem to be claiming the rope fixing effort on K2 this year, similar to what we saw on Everest this past season. Mingma Sherpa of 7 Summits Treks with 30+ people provides the logistics for many of the other teams. Mingma posted today:
Today’s morning [3 July] our 8 members and 8 Sherpas hike to higher Camps after the completion of Puja Ceremony!! We also had a meeting with the team of Madison Mountaineering, planned to send 8 Sherpas (4 from SST and 4 from MM) to C2 on 5th July and fix the route and set up the camp up to C3 on 6-7 July !!
Karakorum Expeditions notes the names of a few Pakistani High Altitude Porters (HAPs) helping the Japanese team with this short update:
Today the team Karakorum Expeditions established camp 1 and camp 2 with Japanese team high altitude guides. The guides include Fazal ali, AminUllah baig, Eid muhammad from Shimshal, Hunza and Sarbaz from Aliabad, Hunza. The team has cleared the route from ABC to C2.
Japanese climber Akira Oyabe reports the heavy snow has ended and now they expect to go to C2 on K2, “7/1 ~ 2: it was stagnant in bc because of the evil heaven, but It was sunny yesterday and after a while. The snow state seems to have calmed down as well. August 7/3, 7/3 I’m going to go up to c2 first.”
Broad Peak – Climbing to C1
Fredrik Sträng says he is headed to C1, “Tomorrow morning we are going to C-1 on Broad Peak. Acklimatization is full on. Inshallah we will make high-point at C-3 at 7100m.”
Gasherbrum – Climbing AND More Snow
Not sure of the background but other teams are reporting the Swedish team has given up and are leaving. Adam Bielecki had good news and bad news. They got to C1 but it began snowing again, “Yesterday we brought gas and food for 9 days to C1. Unfortunately it’s snowing again. Most teams have gone back to the base camp. We still hope. Tomorrow depending on the amount of fresh show we will go up or down. Safety first!”
David Klein notes the poor conditions at Gasherbrum’s base camp and posted this image that says it all, “The weather hasn’t been very kind to us.”
Nanga Parbat – Snow and Endings
Due to the increased danger of avalanche in the superior portion of #nangaparbat, Alex and tunc decided to interrupt the ascent. Abundant and relatively continuous as well as warming the date of entry in July, when historically, the route leading to camp 2 becomes a slide for rock falls, it would have made the rise rather a Russian Roulette, a style climbing style and unpracticed by none of the two. It would have passed from a risk management area at risk beyond reasonable limits for an ascent to 8000 m without additional oxygen. When you know you’ve made everything possible, impossible decisions get clarity and assumption.
Mike Horn had already given up on his effort due to poor conditions and weather.
July is Key
Now that we are in July, the real action begins. The early teams have paved the way with ropes to the lower camps but with the big snows, they are buried and it will take some work to dig them out – not an extremely difficult task but it takes strength and manpower to be sure. However, and this is the big bet, if heavy snow continues, especially a few days apart from each storm, progress will come to a halt as it will simply be too dangerous to climb. Let’s hope the climbers get a couple weeks of relatively low snowfall, cold temps and low winds.
Memories are Everything