Not surprisingly, the weather has moved in, bringing white-out conditions to K2. The rope fixing team was supposed to summit today, Monday, July 24, but we haven’t received any updates. Look for a few days’ delay at this point beyond July 25-27, when most teams were targeting their summits.
Kristin Harila, Tenjen (Lama) Sherpa and team are reported at K2 Base Camp, ready to move higher for their final 8000er when the weather allows.
I posted this yesterday, but with today’s poor weather, it bears repeating: There are several concerns about this season:
- the pure number of people on the mountain creates long, oxygen-sucking delays and increases frostbite potential at the bottleneck spots
- The amount of experience for clients and ‘guides’ on a climb like K2 creates havoc and adds to delays
- The unpredictable weather catches teams unaware. A few climbers have been blown off K2 upper ridges to their deaths.
- The small space for tents, especially at C1,2 and 3, forces overcrowding in tents and little opportunity for rest
- History has shown that some operators on K2 (and Everest) this season make deadly mistakes by underestimating the amount of oxygen clients use. The same goes for food and having no spare tents or other supplies when the wind destroys camps.
- Potential avalanches, given the heavy snow in early July. It should have bonded by now, but I’m reading reports from a few teams of avalanches above the Black Pyramid. In 2013, professional mountain guide Marty Schmidt and his son, Denali, died in their sleep when an avalanche swept their tent off the mountain at Camp 3.
One more item to add to this list is the massive amount of support we are seeing. Some commercial teams put ten, fifteen, or even twenty people on one of the 8000ers but fail to mention the client-to-support ratio at times is as high as 1:2:75; in other words, four clients with eleven Sherpas. To be clear, this was never the way it was done in Pakistan, especially on K2 and adds to the environmental crisis these teams are creating on the mountains and the illusion of safety. Not every team is configured like this, as there were quite a few small, independent teams, but in most cases, they leveraged the commercial team’s Sherpas for ropes and camps.
Gasherbrum I – 53+ Summits
Two more climbers, Denis Urubko and Pipi Cardell, who are supposedly still planning to summit on a “new” route, trodded up the normal without supplemental oxygen or support. They keep their plans close, so we will know if and when they do the new route once it’s complete. In any event, Denis set a record for 8000ers without Os at twenty-seven.
Broad Peak – 51+ summits
There may be a few more summits after K2 with climbers wanting to get a double. however, it’s rare to do it in this order
Gasherbrum II – 60+ summits
Unclear if there will be more summit attempts
Nanga Parbat – Over with 60+ Summits
The season appears to be over with sixty summits.
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