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Jul 172021
Broad Peak

Don Bowie paints an unsettling picture on Broad Peak where the summit push was abandoned. It’s unclear on their next step. With weather moving in, most teams will retreat to the safety of their base camps.

Karakorum Big Picture – Teamwork

One of the issues rarely understood by the general public on the 8000ers is the tension between the small and large teams or more specifically those who fix the route, break trail, and put in the work so others can follow in their boot track.

This is not new and is going on again this summer in Pakistan. Over on K2, there are three teams doing all the work, Karakorum Expeditions, Madison Mountaineering, and Pioneer Adventures. They brought the rope to K2, have fixed the route to Camp 4, and paved the way for everyone else.

The normal protocol is for the small teams with limited resources to pay the large teams for buying the rope, getting it to Base Camp, and fixing the route – all expensive, dangerous, and human power intensive. However, there are some who feel it’s their “right” to use other’s ropes and not provide any compensation. – shame on them. For those who do pay the small prices, a couple of hundred dollars, good on ya!

Winds are expected to return on Monday, July 19th, and not let up until late in the last week of July so they may be in for a bit of a wait.

K2 – Holding

Most teams will hold at Base Camp until the snow and winds abate. Of course, there will always be a few who will try to thread the needle.

Broad Peak – Abandonded for Now

Don Bowie paints a candid picture of the group dynamics on Broad Peak plus the risks:

A lot has happened since my last post… here’s the last 48hrs: On July 15th @lottahintsa and I left base camp for C2 breaking trail in deep snow from C1-C2 with Nils (Belgium) and Hugo (Boliva)- both strong guys. Lotta and I earlier struck a deal with Mirza Ali to work with 7 of his guys to fix to the summit along with members of two other teams (unmemtioned). We had worked with Mirza’s guys before fixing deep snow from C2-C3… fun guys and stong. The plan was for Mirza’s guys, Lotta and I, and the 2 other teams to work together fixing to the summit on the 17th. Then came yesterday morning: I burst out of the tent at C2 puking and purging violently – I’m sure a result of drinking melted snow in crowded C2 with frozen human feces now blowing around everywhere… Shivering with fever and still purging I had to go down. Lotta and I agreed she would go up. With a huge pack she climbed to C3 while I crawled down the mountain and back into base camp. This morning, Lotta kept our side of the bargain and helped break trail and fix with 5 of Mirza’s guys, and also with Nils and Hugo again. The two other ‘unmentioned’ teams wouldn’t leave their tents in C3, choosing to wait for the route above to be fixed for them. But Lotta and the small group worked tirelessly for 14 hours until defeated by deep snow at 7700m- they just didnt have enough manpower. I am so proud of this small team- and especially Lotta- and I hope those who simply waited below at camp for the way to be opened for them for their summit push tomorrow appreciate their effort.

As a comment, what Don experienced with contaminated water is that it’s not uncommon. The standard technique is to double boil water, in other words, bring it to a boil and then again, but that’s virtually impossible at these extreme altitudes. It takes a lot of fuel and they can’t carry enough on their rotations. So perhaps iodine would help or another water purification method. Overall, this is yet another sign of inexperienced climbers not taking basic safety decisions of where to pee and poop in a crowded camp. Best to Don for a full recovery and another attempt.

Karakorum ExpeditionsMirza Ali gave this update on the lack of teamwork when it got difficult on Broad Peak thus ending this first summit push.

So our boys ploughing through deep snow fixing ropes just below the V for almost 12hours retreated to camp 3, there was no support, no piece of ropes from any other team except the Korean team who fixed 300meters above camp 3, and some 200 meters fixed by lotta and don @karakorumexpeditions reorganised at camp 3 and going for the summit tonight! The first team will open the V and then to summit, second-team with clients! ! The fixing team and clients are on the move toward the summit! Please keep your fingers crossed

Teams and Trackers (partial list)

Climb On!
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  7 Responses to “K2 2021 Summer Coverage: Broad Peak Summit Push Threatened”


    Thanks Alan. Appreciate you updating us with the latest developments.


    Very interesting, thanks. I did not realize Manaslu was in the same category as Cho and GII. What are considered the hardest three of the 8000m peaks?


      That’s a harder question because it’s linked to experience, skills and route. But by standard route probably K2, Nanga Parbat, Makalu and perhaps Sishapangma’s true summit Dhaulagiri.


    Is it correct to say Gasherbrum II is the second “easiest” 8000m peak after Cho Oyu? (All 8000m peak are hard, I know).


      I always use the term “achievable” for Cho, Manaslu, and GII. But it depends on weather and snow conditions as we are seeing now. Most people rank them in that order for their first 8000er.


    This issue about ropes was a main factor in the 1996 disaster on Everest. I’m very surprised that it’s still an issue all these years later when it’s been shown to of been a cause of death that could’ve been avoided

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