This has been a ‘lay-low’ week with storms hitting the higher elevations of Pakistan’s 8000ers. Yet, there were thwarted attempts. Many teams are finalizing preparations for their summit pushes beginning soon in what could be very short weather windows, but the predicted conflict with so many people has begun.
Big Picture – The Summit Rush
With this odd statement, “We are not ready for summit push but we will give our best as always.” teams are leaving base camp for their summit pushes at least a week, if not two, earlier than in previous seasons. The leaders must think the gamble is justified.
I’m estimating that around 125 people who had K2 permits are no longer going to the summit, and most have already given up. So that leaves 250-350 people left to attempt. I hear of serious disagreements among the teams led by egos pushing to go and some pushing to wait or just jostling for a slot that they feel is less crowded and gives their team a better chance.
As I said before, with so many people, it will take communication, cooperation, and comprise to avoid, or at least minimize, tragedy this season. Currently, it appears none of those three are in play.
K2 – Pushing for the Summit
Usually, the largest teams lead the way. This year includes Nepali operators: 8K Expeditions, Elite Expeditions, Imaging Nepal, Pioneer Adventures, and Seven Summits Treks. Combined, these account for 253 people – clients and support of mostly Sherpas from Nepal. Also, Maddison Mountaineering and Furtenbach Adventures account for 54 spots on the mountains. The other teams will navigate the giants like birds on a hippo.
Chris Tomer of Tomer Weather solutions told me today that he expects the winds to be calm on July 18/19 and spike on the 20. This makes for a very short summit window if it materializes.
The usual timeline for K2 is as:
- Day 1: BC – ABC
- Day 2: ABC- C1
- Day 3: C1 – C2
- Day 4: C2 – C3
- Day 5: C3 – C4
- Day 6: C4 – Summit – C3
- Day 7: C3- BC
These days, with the higher flow rates of oxygen starting at lower camps, even Camp1, an aggressive schedule might be:
- Day 1: BC – C1
- Day 2: C1 – C3
- Day 3: C3 – Summit – C3
- Day 4: C3- BC
Note that few “normal” people can pull this off. Those who do are supreme athletes with high VO2 Max and are fully acclimatized. In other words, most are Sherpas, not clients.
But it appears some teams are becoming impatient with limited acclimatization and have decided to jump the shark and go for the summit now, choosing not to wait for a long weather window. However, with the ropes only to C3, the first summit team will fix the route to C4, through the Bottleneck, across the Traverse, and on to the summit. It will likely be a huge day, 18 hours from Camp 4 to the summit and back with the parallel rope fixing.
Mingma G’s Imagine Nepal gave this update:
K2 gives a limited weather window, and tomorrow our first team will depart for the K2 summit push. None of our Sherpa and members went above camp2, and we were supposed to set up our Camp 3 before summit push, but I am here with my best team, and we don’t give up anything easily. We are not ready for summit push but we will give our best as always. My team members are determined and they are mentally prepared. I am fully confident on my team and we will go back home after safe summit. We have Rene Dai from Netherland who is 65 years and trying K2 for the fifth time and he alone is enough to inspire us towards our goal. I will have a picture with him on the summit. The best thing about my team is we put our effort to give 100% safety and security to the whole team. Here is my Nepalese Sherpa and Pakistani Tiger team who are dedicated in giving best service. And I am proud to lead this amazing team.
It appears only the Abruzzi route, aka SE Ridge, which is being used this year, and not the Cesen. Look for these teams to attempt the K2 summit:
- 8K Expeditions (Nepal): 37
- Elite Expeditions (Nepal): 53
- Furtenbach Adventures (Austria): 30
- Madison Mountaineering (US): 24
- Mingma G’s Imagine Nepal (Nepal): 57
- Pioneer Adventure (Nepal): 42
- Seven Summits Treks (Nepal): 64
- Adventure Tours Pakistan (Pakistan): 6
- Alpine Adventure Guide (Pakistan): 21
- Lela Peak Expedition (Pakistan): 39
- Summit Karakoram (Pakistan): 19
- Karakorum Expeditions (Pakistan)
Nanga Parbat – Quiet but Echos of Conflict are Loud
After what looked like over 26 summits on what is considered one of the most difficult and dangerous 8000er of all 14, Nanga has turned quiet. It’s unclear who, if anyone, is still there. Clearly, there were a lot of conflicts this season, as told by climber Pawel Michalski to Robert Jalocha on a Facebook live session today.
I invite all interested today, in half an hour, that is at 21.30, to talk to me about my last trip – to Nanga Parbat. Why did I give up the summit attack despite the great conditions? I am furious! The meeting will be hosted by Robert Jałocha , click on His profile!
And Jalocha made this tease:
Today at 9:30 pm on my FB live chat with Pawel Michalski about the just completed Nanga expedition and the cancelled summit attack! The scenes of the expedition indicate that some of the climbers were deliberately misled while trying to reach the summit! Because of whom and under what circumstances, you will find out from tonight’s live
Broad Peak – Summits and Death
Denis Urubko made a solo summit attempt, but the high winds turned him back. His home team gave this update:
Denis is at Broad Peak. Yesterday he climbed in 9h directly from BC to C3 (7100) … nobody on the mountain, only him, difficult conditions with storms and winds at 90km/h. TODAY he made a solo summit attempt that stopped at 7900 due to wind and storm. Now he is at C3 and will descend to BC as fast as possible
Gasherbrum II – Ready for the Summit
The teams are getting ready on GI, but the mountain conditions are less than ideal. Three teams are cooperating to start a summit push.
The poor weather conditions that have affected all the Karakoram 8000m peaks in recent days are ending. All the Gasherbrum II expeditions met today in base camp to agree on a plan to work together to fix ropes on the upper part of the mountain and make a combined summit bid. Weather permitting, most teams will leave BC early on 17 July, aiming to reach the summit on 20/21/22 July.
Gasherbrum II (8,035 m) is throwing its worst at us! Bitter cold nights alternate with Sahara like daytime temperatures. Constant rockfall and roaring avalanches have become so normal that we don’t even look up or are bothered by them. Anchors melt out of the snow faster then we can set them in. Abseiling is a nerve wrecking ordeal.
After completing the acclimatization with an overnight stay in Camp 2 at an altitude of 6,550m, our G2 team is ready for the attack after a few days of rest in the comfortable base camp: It starts on Sunday, the planned summit day is July 21st. All participants and high porters are healthy and motivated.