Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Pakistan 2014: Alan Arnette Reaches K2 Base Camp

The summer climbing season in Pakistan continues to progress on schedule and as expected. Most of the teams have now arrived in Base Camp at long last, and if they haven't already gone to work, they will do so shortly. The season is now in full swing, and conditions across the region are said to be about as good as can be expected. The weather is often the wildcard of course, but for now, the climbers are doing what they need to do to give themselves a chance at a successful summit in the weeks ahead.

Yesterday, Alan Arnette arrived in Base Camp on K2, where he has already been sending back dispatches about the trek that everyone must complete just to get to that point. It is a long, tough hike across rocky trails and slick glaciers. And after 5 days, crossing 75 miles (120 km), the climbers arrive in BC, just to catch a glimpse of the real reason they are there - the second tallest mountain in the world, and arguably the hardest to climb.

Alan's arrival in K2 Base Camp means that we should start to receive a steady stream of updates on progress on the mountain. Alan says that conditions are good at the moment, with plenty of snow to help keep rockslides to a minimum. But that snow brings an increased chance of avalanche of course, something that is particularly dangerous on these very difficult slopes. Alan says that he and his team will get settled in Base Camp, and hold their Puja Ceremony on Tomorrow, before they start their climb on Friday.

The route on K2 has now been fixed all the way up to Camp 3, an indication that things are progressing well so far this season. A number of the teams, including an all-female squad from Nepal, have spent time at Camp 2 as part of their acclimatization process. Most of the teams are back in BC at the moment however, as they wait out a spot of bad weather.


Adrian Hayes and Al Hancock have checked in, and they report that the conditions at altitude are not particularly good at the moment. High winds and lots of snow have made it difficult for anyone going above C1 in particular. The duo set out from BC a few days back, and struggled to reach Advanced Base Camp at a place known as "Crampon Point." From there, they pushed up the mountain to Camp 1, struggling the entire way, and spent a night there to acclimatize. They are expected to descend back to BC today to take part in the Puja, which will officially begin many of the climbs.

Over on Broad Peak, Chris Jensen Burke reports that the weather has taken a turn for the worse as well. High winds and cold temperatures have set in, and due to those conditions she was forced to abandon an attempt to reach Camp 2. She says that for the first time in her climbing career, she feared she might get frostbite in her hands. Thankfully, she turned around at the right time and made it back to BC without incident. She's now in Base Camp and waited for another opportunity to move up the mountain.

Turkish climber Tunç Findik has reached Base Camp on the Gasherbrums, and is just getting settled there. He will attempt to climb both GI and GII this season. There hasn't been much in the way of updates just yet, so we can assume that things are going according to plan, although they are a bit behind schedule due to government bureaucracy more than anything else. If anyone is happy to be in the mountains at last, it is probably Tunç, who was impatient to get started but was forced to wait for other climbers on his permit to arrive in country.

That's all for today. Expect a steady stream of updates from K2 now that Alan has arrived there. We should get some outstanding coverage of season thanks to his presence on the mountain.

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