With decent weather, climbers continue to summit K2, GII, and Broad Peak; some are Sherpa races while others are nice old-school with no Os and no support. Some of the early summiteers talk about the problems of so many people on K2.
There continues to be an analysis of this year’s K2 traffic with the inevitable comparisons with Everest. To be clear, this was a record year for K2, full stop. Also, it’s most likely one of the lowest death rate percentages in history. Amazing, considering probably over 225 people attempted, and 80% of them succeeded in reaching the top. We will never know the true number as there is no public, updated free source of Pakistan summits like there is with the Himalayan Database for Nepal and Tibet.
As of July 28, I estimate 190 K2 summits and three deaths or 1.6%.
Nothing All That New
Looking back at my K2 pictures from 2014, I found this one from July 26, 2014. It’s of a Seven Summits Treks “team” heading to the summit. That day their Sherpas fixed the line as members trailed behind. It was a long day for them, around 18 hours from C4 to the summit and then back to C4 or C3. Most of the climbers were semi-professionals; there were not a lot of what I’d call “recreational” climbers on the SST team that year.
Then another picture from my archives shows a long line of climbers on the Lhotse Face in 2008 while attempting Everest.
My point is that the viral images and videos we saw in 2019 on Everest or this year from K2 are not that unique. Situationally, long lines of climbers are on every mountain. Have you ever hiked Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park on a summer day, the Half Dome Cables route in Yosemite during a holiday weekend, or any route on Mont Blanc or Mt Fuji? You get the picture.
I don’t blame these K2 crowds on the operators, Nepali, Pakistani or Western. They are running businesses and have found a formula to grow their business by increasing the number of customers they serve. This is no different than airlines, football stadiums, or any enterprise that finds ways to expand.
What is different is they operate in pristine areas that need to be protected from people that leave human solid waste, and trash behind, or stomp on fragile tundra. All of this can be prevented. The bottom line is that mountaineering has become a mass market business, and it’s not going back to the 1980s. So let’s accept reality and create environmentally responsible ways of enjoying nature, even if not everyone can’t go.
Seven Summits Treks continued their K2 summit success with nine more guided clients, including the young female brit, Adriana Brownlee, who is another person going for a record. Her goal is to be the youngest to do all 14 8000ers. Gelje Sherpa has been by her side on every summit, and she always generously acknowledges his help.
1) Antonina Samoilova (f)
2) Sona Sherpa
3) Ngima Dorchi Sherpa (4th Ascent)
4) Adriana Brownlee (f)
5) Gelje Sherpa
6) Dorota Lidia Samocko (f)
7) Dawa Nurbu Sherpa
8 ) Erix Asdrubal
9) Tenging Gyaljen Sherpa
and three Italian Alpinists, all without Os
10) Francois Cazzanelli
11) Picco Pietro
12) Jerome Perruquet
Climbing without Os’ from the Polish Beskid Expedition Team, Mariusz Hatala, Piotr Krzyżowski, and Radosław Woźniak all summited K2.
With most of their client guiding completed, the Sherpas seemed to want to have some fun and race to the top of K2. Imagine Nepal said that Tsering (Chhiring) climbed from base camp to the summit in 12:20:23 and made the full roundtrip in 20:18. Meanwhile, Elite Expeditions’ Mingma David Sherpa made the BC to summit climb in 14:22. Both are presumed to have used supplemental oxygen.
Imagine also noted three Sherpas who seemed to climb on their own: “Today Jit Bahadur Sherpa, Pemba Sherpa, Pasang Namgel Sherpa from Imagine Nepal made it to summit of K2 at around 9 am and spent almost 2 hrs on the summit. They are now descending back to camp3. Because of avalanche risk from new snow and many climbers climbing the same route, our Sherpa decided to descend straightly back.”
Not to be left out, Denis Urubko is at C4 on K2, going to add to his summer peak bagging along with Broad Peak and GII. Of course, he’s climbing his way – no O’s or support and alone.
Trouble in Paradise – Learning to Rapell in Base Camp
Spanish climbing guide, Lina Quesada, summtied and noted on her descent that “It took me 2 days to get to base camp, since July 18th I left, summit 22nd and arrived at base 24. Hours waiting on the rappers, falling stones, sherpas loaded with oxygen bottles as customers climb up from field 2 using it, people learning to rappel at base camp…”
Now that I’ve seen this mountain up close I can’t stop admiring the Italian pioneers who first stepped on the summit (Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni, whom I was lucky enough to meet in Aosta) a few years ago. Awesome route!! This one with as many people, as it happened in 2004 for the 50th anniversary celebration, has made the mountain more dangerous. It took me 2 days to get to base camp, since July 18th I left, summit 22nd and arrived at base 24. Hours waiting on the rappers, falling stones, sherpas loaded with oxygen bottles as customers climb up from field 2 using it, people learning to rappel at base camp… That’s what the ochomiles have become, I’m sad, but at least I got to enjoy the time when the mountain wasn’t like this. I will always remember K2 as one of the most beautiful mountains I’ve climbed
8kexpeditions continues their season success, especially the Norwegian kristin_harila, who got her ninth 8000er this year. Like Adriana, Kristin heaps loads of praise on Pasdawa Sherpa and Dawa Ongju Sherpa for their assistance. By the way, if a record is set, it will be shared by all three climbers. Next are G1 and G2. Then they have a serious challenge to meet their goal of reaching the true summit of all 14 in the shortest timeframe. They’ll probably climb Cho Oyu from the dangerous Nepal side, and they still have to cajole China to let them into Tibet to attempt Shishapangma.
Seven Summits Treks got another nine on BP’s summit:
1. Adrian Laza
2. Tenjing Sherpa
3. Chhangba Sherpa
4. Naoko Watanabe
5. Fura Tshering Sherpa
6. Afsaneh Hesami Fard
7. Mingtemba Sherpa
8. He Jing No Os
9. Ngima Tashi Sherpa
Climbing with Dolma Outdoor’s Nima Gyalzen Sherpa and Ningma Dorje Tamang Tawainse Tseng Ko-Erh aka Grace Tseng, 29, summited BP with no O’s. She is off to the Gasherbrums to complete the 14.
Memories are Everything
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