K2 2019 Summer Season Coverage – Snow Stalling K2 Progress

Only a few teams have arrived at K2 Base Camp thus far while many others are making their way closer by trekking on the Baltoro Glacier. Activity is also picking up on the other 8000ers in Pakistan. Finally, more deaths are being reported on the mountains this summer.

Snow at K2 BC

Swiss climber, Mike Horn, is doing a nice job of keeping everyone updated on his teams progress through his expensive social media. He arrived at BC last week and wanted to get to Camp 2 but snow conditions have delayed their efforts:

New week, new goals! Weather not at its best today, we’ll have to wait for it to clear before we make our way to camp 2 (6500m) – acclimatization going well so far, @fredroux72 and I feeling in top shape!

I don’t have a lot of details but there are reports of a Japanese climber who arrived earlier on K2 and had all of his great lost to an avalanche. He had to abandon his climb and has left the mountain. My source passed on a quote from a Gilgit-Baltistan area local that he has not seen this much snow in 29 years.

Madison Mountaineering reports in half way to K2 BC with better weather but a bit of rain.

It’s still very early in the climbing cycle. We can anticipate K2 summits in late July, over a month to go. That said, with over 160 people on K2 alone, there will need to be effective communication and coordination amongst the teams on where to pitch tents, especially at C1, C2 and C3. With this many people, there is a chance that someone might unwittingly position a tent in an avalanche prone area.

In 2013 an avalanche swept a tent off the mountain at Camp 3. Killed were highly experienced guide Marty Schmidt, 53, and his son, Denali, 25.  Heavy snow hit K2 that season and all other teams had retreated to base camp to let the snow settle.

Approaching Camp 3 on K2 in 2014 by Alan Arnette
Approaching Camp 3 on K2 in 2014 by Alan Arnette

Other 8000ers

Broad Peak

Kari Kobler is leading a team to BP including Lynda Bradey and Billi Bierling. Also Furtenbach Adventuresis on BP.

Nanga Parbat

Mountain Planet is reporting that Russian alpinists Vitaly Lazo and Anton Pugovkin announce the start of “Death Zone Freeride” project. The goal is: to ascent 5 highest mountains of the world with no supplement oxygen, and to descent skiing. They are Manaslu, Annapurna, Nanga Parbat, Everest, K2. They got Manaslu in 2017 and Annapurna last year. You can follow on their site. They have already established C1 and 2 on the Kinshoffer Wall. This is their video from Manaslu.


Gasherbrum II

Denis Urubko and María Cardell are on their way hoping for a new route on GII.

New Speed Record on Denali

On Thursday 20 June 2019 38-year-old Ecuadorian mountain guide Karl Egloff broke Kilian Jornet’s speed record when he climbed the West Buttress route on Denali in 7 hours and 40 minutes, smashing Jornet’s time of 9:45. Jornet skied down but Egloff simply walked and ran! Overall,  he completed a round trip climb of the West Buttress route in a total of 11 hours, 44 minutes.  The previous record for a round trip speed climb was set in 2014 at 11 hours, 48 minutes by Killian Jornet.

More Climbing Deaths

2019 started off with the deaths of Tom Ballard Daniel Nardi in February on the 8,000-meter peak Nanga Pabart. Then in April, elite climbers, American Jess Roskelley and Austrians David Lama and Hansjörg Auer were killed in an avalanche on Canada’s Howse Peak attempting a very difficult new route.

Then in April and May we saw 10 deaths on the 8000ers, Annapurna, Lhotse Makalu, and Kanchenjunga then another 11 just on Everest. Quick on the heels of these deaths came an avalanche on the24,390-foot/7,434-meter Nanda Devi East in Northern India that took the lives of eight climbers. An eight person team was lead by veteran British mountaineer Martin Moran and included four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian. Seven of the bodies have been recovered.

Now in Pakistan on Melvin Jones Peak at 5,800-meter/19028-foot, seven climbers with an Italian team were hit by an avalanche killing at least one Pakistani. Finally in this string of tragedy, the Alpine Club of Pakistan is reporting that two Chinese climbers, Li Haoxin Chen and Ka Kit Ng, are missing on a technical 6,400m peak in the Liligo Glacier/Trango Towers area.


Weather Online

Not to be left out, there is still more Everest news. A National Geographic/Rolex sponsored project has put several weather stations on and around Everest at the Balcony (8382m), South Col (8000m), C2 (6487m), EBC (5298m) and Phortse (3780m) are now available online.

Summits Top 10,000

With the final numbers from the Nepal and Chinese governments, it appears that there were between 885 and 900 summits in 2019 smashing the previous one season record of 715 summits in 2018 thus bringing the total summits around 10,050 by over 5,800 individuals. With the 11 deaths, that total is now 304. There were only 2 summits that didn’t use supplemental oxygen. The best final statistics will come from the Himalayan database later this year.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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5 thoughts on “K2 2019 Summer Season Coverage – Snow Stalling K2 Progress

  1. I note you mention the Nanda Devi East accident. Do we know what happened there? They were climbing a ridge south of Longstaff’s Col towards an unclimbed peak known only as ” Peak 6447 metres”. Was it a cornice fracture, or an avalanche caused by them traversing a slope on the windward side of the cornice? Martin Moran was a highly experienced mountaineer so I would have thought it highly unlikely he would have made an error of judgement regarding a corniced ridge! Others have though. I think of Herman Buhl on Chogolisa and Alberto Zerain on Nanga Parbat.

      1. news reports posted yesterday by India press say following: Climbers’ Bodies Found On Nanda Devi Were Tied Together With Rope: Police(ITBP). Also they are mentioning cause of death as Avalanche.

  2. Too many people, too much snow……….I’ve got a bad feeling about K2 this year. I hope they all use good judgement……..God bless them.

  3. Snow stalling progress… I’ve just been hit by a sense of deja vu, because that’s what always happens on K2!

    I’m sure the weather will be kind and give the climbers an opportunity to summit like it did last year.

    Good luck and safe return to all the climbers.

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