K2 Summer 2022: Weekend Update July 3: Karakorum Summits


Several strong Sherpas from various Nepali operators fixed the ropes on Nanga Parbat over the past few days thus facilitating a handful of clients to reach the summit. In total, there were 18 summits consisting of six members supported by 12 Sherpas, a 1:2 ratio of support. Pakistan issued 100 (member with support) permits this season; thus, look for more activity on Nanga.

Big Picture

The 2022 summer season is moving along with few, if any, issues reported by the teams. Most are talking about getting the fixed ropes put in by their super-strong Sherpas to the low-medium altitude camps while on Nanga, we are using a few summits. A shortage of porters and general support due to the record number of permits issued have delayed some teams from reaching their base camps.

As usual in Pakistan, the weather is variable with great, then tough days. Nothing out of the ordinary. Most of the commercial teams are taking the usual trade routes. A few independent climbers are taking less-traveled routes, but overall, this summer, climbing in Pakistan looks a lot like climbing in Nepal. Not a huge surprise since most of the teams are led by large Nepali operators using their proven formula of high oxygen rates with strong Sherpa support.

As for summits on the most-watched K2, don’t expect them for another couple of weeks at the earliest. Most K2 summits occur between July 25 and August 1.

K2 2022 Summer Coverage: First Karakorum Summits

We have the first summits of the 2022 Summer Karakorum seasons reported to me by Pemba Sherpa with 8K Expeditions. He says Norwegian Kristin Harila supported by Sherpas Dawa Ongju Sherpa and Pasadawa Sherpa topped out on Nanga Parbat This is a continuation of their project for all three to summit all of the 8000ers in record time. Next up are K2 and Broad Peak.

K2 2022 Summer Coverage: Ropes Higher in the Karakorum

K2 from Broad Peak

There is nice early progress on fixing the ropes throughout the Karakorum but don’t get too excited as the task gets harder as they move to the high camps.

Big Picture

In a carry-over from Nepal’s 8000er mash-up, it appears the multi-8000ers craze has spread to Pakistan’s five 8000ers. It used to be BP and K2, of which few if any ever achieved. Now it the Gasherbrums, BP, K2 and Nanga Parbat.

It will not surprise me if a few make it based on the new formula: use a team of strong Sheras to overpower the peak, fix the rope to the summit, establish and stock the high camps while the clients rest at BC or acclimatize to the lowest camps. Then leave BC, some already using oxygen, at high flow rates following the same, or fresh Sherpas to the summit. Once back, move quickly, albeit without helicopter support as in Nepal, and repeat the formula on the next 8000er.

K2 2022 Summer Coverage: How Hard is K2?

Climbing the Black Pyramid on K2

With an estimated 348 people attempting K2 this summer, it begs the question if people have succumbed to marketing and clever public relations as to the difficulty of climbing this peak. I guess the question of difficulty begs the decision of which route, are you following Sherpas who broke the trail, what’s your experience, and these days, not if you use Os, but at what flow rate and from which camp?

K2 2022 Summer Coverage: A Record Year?

Tight space at Camp 1 on K2

The 2022 Karakorum climbing season has begun! Multiple teams have arrived in Pakistan, and many are already trekking the Baltoro Glacier to their respective Base Camps. Of the fourteen 8000-meter peaks, Pakistan is home to five: K2, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak, and Gasherbrum I & II. Without a doubt, some of these are the most difficult 8000ers as are plus countless 6000 and 7000-meter mountains. Those who summited Everest will be shocked when they attempt K2. They are entirely different experiences.

The number of climbers, close to 700, in Pakistan this summer is staggering compared to previous years. I’m concerned about their safety, given the objective dangers presented on the 8000-meter peaks, crowds kicking rocks on other climbers, and the lack of space to establish high camps. The operators need to coordinate movement like they never have to avoid massive confusion, congestion, delays, and potential tragedies.

With that said, I’m delighted to see so much work for the Pakistani operators, High Altitude Workers (aka Pakistani mountain support climbers), porters, and the associated tourism industry. However, it must be noted that the Nepal operators are swamping the climbing in Pakistan and bringing in scores of Sherpas to support their clients along with copious amounts of supplemental oxygen at high flow rates beginning at camps lower than in previous years. It’s similar to what we saw in Nepal, with a record 1.6 Sherpa support for each member across the 8000ers. Perhaps Pakistan will develop enough support that they can be the dominant force in their own mountains.