There were summits on Gasherbrum II, an aborted attempt on GI, salve fixed ropes on Broad Peak and tired climbers on K2. The climbing has now moved to the end game when it becomes the most dangerous.
A seven person team from Kobler & Partner successfully summited Gasherbrum II on Wednesday. They reported 5 members and 2 Sherpas on the summit in difficult snow conditions.
Chris Jensen Burke gave us a solid report on Broad Peak saying that the fixed rope has been set to Camp 3 at 6950 meters or 22,801 feet. She and others will now go to C3 for their final acclimatization rotation. This suggests a summit push perhaps late next week.
In her report she comments on “waterfalls” near the route. Temperatures have been unusually high in Pakistan this year and it appears to be having some impact in the Karakorum:
Lakpa 1 and one of his Sherpa friends returned to below Camp 1 on Broad Peak yesterday to relocate the climbing route more or less out of the avalanche path in that area. The main section of concern was where the ropes had been fixed on a rock section to the left of a waterfall / ice traverse (depending on temperature). But, in the case of an avalanche the place to ‘run’ is to the right, but that requires you to cross the waterfall / ice traverse – the trouble is that that section is actually part of the avalanche path.
On my descent of K2 last year around July 29th, I also experienced free flowing water but it was closer to 18,500 feet near Advanced Base Camp, not high on the mountain.
Over on K2, it’s reported the route has been fixed to Camp 3 at 7,300m, Abruzzi route. While this is good news, there is still a long way to go from C3 to the summit on this dangerous mountain.
Joe Ashkar with Madison Mountaineering blogged that they have completed their acclimatization rotation to Camp 2 via the Abruzzi and are now back in K2 Base Camp, extremely tired:
Today we made the gruesome descent from Camp 2 on K2 all the way to Base Camp. It was long and arduous due to bad and sketchy snow conditions (lots of deep snow and too warm) but everyone made it ok albeit very tired. I will post some details and pics of our rotation tomorrow. Now we sit and base camp to rest and await a good summit window.
The Himex team, and also now apparently including Swiss climber Mike Horn, is still at it on the Česen. They have a large contingent of Sherpas and High Altitude Porters who have set the route to Camp 3. The Česen and Abruzzi routes merge at Camps 4.
In practice this means the crowding concern many still develop at the Bottleneck and Traverse just below the huge serac near the summit of K2, but Russ, Garrett, Mike and other leaders are some of the in the business and will most likely work together to avoid this.
In 2014, around 40 climbers waited for hours for the final ropes to be fixed in these locations barely avoiding frostbite or worse. It was this same area in 2008 where 11 K2 climbers were killed when the serac released destroying the fixed ropes.
But to get a different, an equally valid perspective, Philippe Gatta posted upon his return the K2 BC:
I had a good night. Went 150m above C2 toward the black pyramid this am, no wind, warm, amazing views from China to Pakistan. The route is now open up to C3. Now I am back in C2, resting. I am starving since we don’t have enough food, but will eat myself happy at base camp
But conditions seems to vary widely across the four 8000 meter mountains in this part of the Karakorum. Nic Rice over on Gasherbrum I posted some great pictures and information on his last sorte attempting to reach Camp 3 on GI. Note his comments on deep snow, winds and also old piton that failed giving him a narrow escape:
The deep snow did nothing to help the situation either. It ranged from knee deep to hip deep as we continued making our way up the face to the ridge that we hoped would join the final stretch of the Japanese Couloir leading to Camp III. The combination of deep snow, the high temperature, and route finding made the climb to Camp III take far too long. After more than nine hours of climbing, and having reached an altitude of close to 7000m, I decided that I needed to begin descending if I was to have any hope for my own summit push.
We all carried gear for Ferran’s team. I had a spool of fixed rope which I left secured to an anchor at my high point. I began descending the rocky ridge and when I reached the snowy slope, a piton flew out of the rock as I weighted it, sending me tumbling down the steep slope toward Camp II. Thanks to the warm afternoon temperature and deep snow, and the fact that I had stowed a trekking pole between my backpack and back, I quickly came to a stop, facing down the slope. I continued making my way down the slope slowly, double checking the anchors as I clipped into the rope.
So, we have some summits on the arguably easiest of these four 8’s, GII, but they had to fight hard to make it happen. The weather is unpredictable as always there and the mountains are making the climbers work hard. Look for a wave of summit attempts across all the Hills late next week, assuming the weather window appears as expected.
Memories are Everything