K2 and Broad Peak in 2006
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I always wanted to visit the Himalayas in Pakistan. The mountains are legendary: Gasherbrum I,Gasherbrum II, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak and, of course, K2. The view from the confluence of three glaciers at Concordia is live postcard few get to see in person. In the summer of 2006, along with a team managed by Field Touring Alpine (FTA), I attempted Broad Peak (26,401') and planned to make a good effort on K2 (28,250').

I reached 21,000' on Broad or Camp 2 before abandoning the climb due to weakness that resulted from a severe bug I contracted on the trek in. The Karakorum ranges was magnificent and I was very lucky to have unbelievable weather for the month I spent there.

I sent frequent dispatches using a system that includes a digital camera, PDA and sat phone.

Click here for the dispatch home and videos

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Di and Ian Crevasse Rescue Report

Posted on August 5, 2006 05:58 PM U.S. Mountain Daylight Time

I just recieved a nice email from Di telling me about her, Ian's and Wilco's rescue of the Spainish climber from a crevasse below C1 on Broad. She was kind enough to give me permission to post it here. Well done ! Enjoy!

Ian and I did not get a decent summit attempt. We made 4 forays up the mountain, perhaps one too many because the tiredness just caught up with me eventually. The third foray, potentially our most promising, was terminated by the onset of bad weather. On the forth attempt at the mountain I moved very happily and quickly from Base to Camp 1, then to Camp 2. But above Camp 2 I really suffered from altitude and fatigue, and decided to turn back as I was suffering from bad dizziness and black spots appearing in my vision. Ian made the decision to descend with me. That night I faced up to the bitter disappointment of not even reaching 7000m, let alone the summit, and contemplated the unthinkable: why do I climb? Had I failed myself in not reaching my aims? Should I be climbing with Ian? Is it all worth the financial, emotional and physical effort that goes into this sport? Where did we get it wrong? These dark thoughts faded with the brightness of morning, and we set off on our final descent of Broad Peak.

But the story did not end there.

At the base of the mountain we walked past the usual spot where people take off their crampons, and continued onto the scree. There we sat down to eat and drink some, both of us exhausted under the weight of fully loaded packs. About 15 minutes later a Spanish climber came down. Whereas we had walked around a newly opened crevasse, he jumped over it, then backtracked, leaned over, and shouted into the crevasse “Ola, como estas? It took a moment for us to realise what had happened: a climber had fallen about 10m into the crevasse! The Spaniard then turned to us “Chorda? Do we have rope to initiate a rescue? We did. I think Ian was one of the few climbers on that mountain to carry a rope. He had been concerned about cravasses between the higher camps, as well as the exposed summit ridge. We also had all our gear on us as we were now finished on the mountain. It was one of those marvellous co-incidences of being in the right place at the right time to be able to help.

We were unable to set up an anchor as the snow was soft, so we relied on the old heave-ho, the Spaniard, Ian, me, then joined by another Spanish girl, all just pulling as hard as we could, and slowly hoisting the injured climber (also a Spanish climber, but from another team). Wilco arrived just as we were hauling Jose to the surface, and he joined in and helped as well. Jose was in shock and hypothermic (he was complete saturated from the melt water in the crevasse), with a bad cut across his head and ear. He could not stand, and could hardly even tell us his name (Jose). His ear was full of blood, and we simply did not know the extent of his injury, if it was superficial or a skull injury. We had to carry him a short distance to avoid the immediate zone of rockfall that we were in. Wilco phoned his doctor in Holland, and the Spanish climbers left for Base Camp to let Jose’s expedition know what had happened and to notify the doctor. The next two hours were nerve wracking. I held Jose’s hand and spoke to him (with my lack of Spanish and Jose’s lack of English I am not sure if he understood a thing, but I had to do something). He would shiver uncontrollably, and now and then his face would screw up in pain. But slowly he warmed up and the shock subsided, and started talking and thanking us, and smiling.

Then the funniest thing happened. The Spanish doctor arrived down from Camp 2. He did some rudimentary tests (How many fingers am I holding up?), “thumped Jose on the neck, chest and back, then said “You are ok, it will be dark and cold in two hours so you have to get up and walk out. And Jose, whom an hour previously we thought would have to be heli-lifted out, got up and walked out (slowly, yes, but walking nevertheless…). Even he later joked about it. “The doctor said I was ok, so who was I to argue with that?!

Being part (even if it was just a small part) of the team that saved someone’s life is both completely overwhelming and very humbling. It completely changed my experience on the mountain – it really put the lack of summit into perspective - and is something I will never forget.

My experience on Broad Peak was unforgettable. It was wonderful to get to know all the climbers, FTA/ATP/you did a great job in the organisation and smooth running of the trip, the weather was kind to us most of the time, I had an utterly exhausting but really rewarding climb, and most of all we all got home safely. That is the most important part. I am not sure what our next climb will be, but I know without doubt that there will be many more.

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