Before I provide more details, let me thank all those who sent emails and positive energy for both JJ and I as we made public our ills. I also appreciate the support for Cathy, my wife, during this difficult time. Thank you all.
When I climbed to Camp 1 last Tuesday, I knew something was not right with my body. The fatigue was overwhelming even though I had spent four nights acclimatizing above 20,000'. I will not repeat the details nor my rational to leave but now that I am back home I know it was the right thing to do. I arrived late last night and saw my personal Doctor this morning. I will not have all the tests back for a few days but suffice it say, my Doc was concerned enough to order several blood tests as well as a chest X-Ray. I still am very tired and have not returned to my normal eating habits.
There has been some misinformation published on various sites that I want to clear up. First, my aliment was not a simple intestinal issue but something more serious. When Ryan came to my aid my pulse was 140 at rest and Carl felt I was already in early shock. I was extremely dehydrated and continuously vomiting. So this was not "traveler's diarrhea" due to new food but something much more significant. JJ was not evacuated from BC. He walked out with me. He was coughing up "green plates" and has early signs of bronchitis or pneumonia. He has had this before and knew what was happening thus his difficult decision to leave BC when he did.
Since most members will be leaving the way we did, let me detail our return. We left BP BC about 6:00AM on Thursday June 29. We both knew we needed to get down to a lower altitude as fast as possible so we agreed to push very hard. We had four porters to carry our two bags each plus a fifth for the tents and finally a rep from Adventure Tours Pakistan (ATP) who served as the sidar on the way out. We went to Concordia and continued to Urdukas. It rained for several hours as we finally reached Urdukas about 10 hours later. Honestly, we both fell asleep instantly in our tents. We had separate tents since bronchitis is contagious and we did not want to risk me catching it from JJ.
We ate very little since we had no cooking facilities nor wanted to take the time to set something up so needless to say our (my) strength continued to wane as the days went on. The next day we were walking by 4:45AM. This was a 14 hour day ending with a camp site by the river around 7:00PM. It rained again part of the day and was very cold. Our last day we reach Askole about noon after starting at 4:00AM. A 8 hour day. We were met there by ATP with a small jeep.
With three crammed in the front seat and all our bags in the back, almost 6 hours later - plus feeling like we were in a blender - we arrived in Skardu. We stayed that night at the Concordia Hotel and enjoyed a nice dinner late that night. Luckily we were able to get on a flight the next day, Monday, to Islamabad. Once there JJ worked to get on the next Thai flight to the US via Bangkok while I had an incredibly disappointing experience with Emirates Air. They refused to change my ticket to since I had already started my travel. Unheard of! I was stranded and abandoned by Emirates Air of the UAE. So I worked with United to buy a new ticket on Air Blue to reach Dubai and spent the next 30 hours traveling from Islamabad to Karachi to Dubai to Frankfurt to Chicago to Denver!
Finally back home!
Ryan Waters has agreed to do a few audio dispatches so we can look forward to hearing directly from the Hills. As has already been reported K2 BC is now set up. They were moving the main dinning tent up the glacier the day we left. Also they need to move sleeping tents, food and the 31 oxygen bottles. A HAP will stay at the new BC to watch over the gear. A new climber, Josette, arrived in BC just before I left. She is a guide from Switzerland and will be climbing K2 only. Nice person.
The weather continues to play havoc with the schedules. I was thinking about the conditions on BP and how soft and mushy it was below C1 yet how hard packed with deep snow it was above C3. This makes it difficult to climb, to say the least. As for Wilco and the climbers - Mark, Ger and Bill, all four men are very strong with three having summited Everest and other 8000m mountains. The plan was to have two HAPs to join them to help break trail but they are reported to have turned back. Radio contact was very poor above C4 so unless Wilco uses his sat phone, we will have to wait to hear their status. Hopefully Wilco and team will make the summit tonight and the remaining climbers will make their bid over the next few days. There is supposed to be a break in the weather starting today.
I am sorting through my videos and 1000 pictures and will post some on my site over the next few days. Also I will provide some "color commentary" as to what is going on the Hills. I do not have direct contact with the team but can try to connect some dots.
Thanks again everyone for your kindness and support.