Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pakistan 2014: Climbers Arriving in the Karakoram and Himalaya

Last week I posted a brief overview of the 2014 Pakistani climbing season, which is just now getting underway. The first teams have begun their treks to Base Camp on their mountain of choice for this summer, and have now started the acclimatization process that will get them ready for higher altitudes. But a new change in rules by the Pakistani government is leaving others stranded in Islamabad and Skardu, while they wait for their full team to arrive in country. Something that isn't sitting well with everyone.

ExWeb is reporting that this rule change requires that all members of a team make the trek to their respective base camps together, rather than allowing them all to meet up there at their own schedule and pace. This has left some of the early arrivals a bit upset, as they had hoped to reach BC early, and start acclimatizing. But now, they must wait until their full team is there before proceeding. In this case, Italian Giuseppe Pompili is annoyed that he and his companions, Tamara Lunger and Nikolaus Gruber, must sit at wait until two Bulgarian climbers, as well as Cleo Weidlich and Pemba Sherpa, join them, as they are sharing the same permit.

I have no doubt that this new rule was instituted for security reasons, and possibly to keep things more organized. But, I can also understand the frustration that these climbers must be feeling knowing that they are ready to go, and yet aren't allowed to begin their climbs. There are many climbers who are still en route to Pakistan, and it can take several days to sort through the red tape to get in and out of Islamabad, meanwhile their teammates have to sit and wait before they can get underway. Of course, this is no one's fault really, just a new rule that teams will have to deal with moving forward. Better coordination will make this less of an issue, but for now, it could be throwing off some schedules.


In last week's update, I mentioned that the team of David Lama, Peter Ortner and Hansjorg Auer have set their sights on the very difficult 7821 meter (25,659 ft) Masherbrum, but first they'll acclimatize on Broad Peak. The talented trio have been in Base Camp on BP for some time, and have already climbed as high as Camp 3 at 7000 meters as part of their acclimatization rotations. They plan one more rotation before they leave for Masherbrum, but ExWeb is unclear as to whether or not they'll make a summit push before they go.

Chris Jensen Burke has arrived in Pakistan ahead of the start of her expedition to K2. She's fresh off a spring summit on Makalu in Nepal, and is ready to add yet another 8000 meter peak to her already impressive resume. She has already come and gone from Islamabad, and is now in Askole preparing for her trek up the Baltoro Glacier. Chris will first acclimatize on Broad Peak as well, before going after the real prize of K2 later in the season.

Over the next few days, many of the teams are expected to arrive in country, which means things should start to get very busy next week. Alan Arnette is scheduled to depart the U.S. next week and begin his attempt on K2 soon there after. That mountain seems like a popular place this summer, which should come as no surprise considering it is the 60th anniversary of the first ascent. With that in mind, there is a mixed Italian-Pakistani team that will be making a summit attempt, as well as a Polish team as well, which will be scouting the mountain for potential future attempts during the winter.

Finally, Tunç Findik is expected to arrive in Pakistan tomorrow. He'll be headed to the Gasherbrums, where he hopes to summit both GI and GII this summer. At the moment, it appears that he may have Base Camp all to himself, although there is some indication that there may be climbers attempting GIV as well.

That's all for now. Expect plenty more updates as the season progresses.

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