Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pakistan 2014: Success on Broad Peak and Gasherbrum II, Progress on K2

It has been a busy couple of days in the Himalaya and Karakoram of Pakistan, where multiple teams launched summit bids on several mountains across the region. While those summit bids are still on going on K2, climbers have found success on other peaks, including Gasherbrum II and Broad Peak.

We'll start on BP, where most teams set out from Base Camp on Monday, with the promise of good weather, and a wide window. Those forecasts proved to be true, and teams report great summit conditions as they approached the top yesterday and today. Amongst those summiting were Romanian climber Alex Gavin, who topped out along, with climbing partners Boyan Petrov and Ivan Tomov, both of Bulgaria. They completed their climb yesterday, and have already begun their descent back to BC.

The second round of summit pushes are underway today, and ExWeb has indicated that Spanish climber Jesus Morales also topped out at 6:15 AM local time. He is the first of a large group of climbers heading up today, and we should expect to hear about more successful summits shortly.

Not everyone found success on Broad Peak however. Oscar Cadiach, climbing with Anna Pujol and Jean Marc Flores, was headed for the summit this morning as well, but was forced to turn back just 22 meters (72 feet) from the top. Cadiach's home team reports that Oriol Ribas continued up alone, but it is unclear if he reached the summit or not. Oscar, Anna, and Jean will retreat to Camp 3 for now, and reevaluate the situation. The good weather window is expected to last through the weekend, and they may have another go at the summit before they leave the mountain.

Similarly, ExWeb is reporting that the Polish team climbing Broad Peak turned back 100 meters (328 feet) below the summit as well, and have retreated back down the mountain. They were attempting the BP Middle, while a group of their countrymen will have a go at the main summit today. No word yet on their success.

Over on Gasherbrum II, Turkish climber Tunç Findik has successfully topped out as well. Tunç topped out at 10 AM local time as part of a team of international climbers. ExWeb says this is his 11 8000-meter peak, leaving him just three to go before he has climbed them all.

On K2, things will start to get interesting tomorrow, when the first teams should be approaching the summit, or at the very least, in position to make their summit bids over the next few days. Alan Arnette checked in from Camp 2 this morning, and reports that all is going well. After feeling a bit under the weather yesterday, Alan has rebounded today, and indicated that he enjoyed the very technical climbing up the slopes of the mountain this morning. He said that falling rocks have made things a bit treacherous, and a large rock struck one of the Sherpas, drawing blood in the process. But he is doing well, and the injury was treated at C2.

In an audio dispatch, Alan says that his squad is on track to summit on Sunday, but there are several teams above them on the mountain who have plans to top out tomorrow or Saturday. Weather conditions remain quite good, and this may be the longest, and best, weather window to appear on K2 in several years. But this is K2, the "Savage Mountain," and things can change very quickly. On top of that, the severe weather is just one part of the challenge, and the mountain has other obstacles to throw at the climbers yet. Hopefully, everyone will get up and down safely, and we'll see at least a few climbers standing on the summit.

More updates to come soon. The main summit season is underway in Pakistan now, and will likely last for a few more days. Climbers will be taking advantage of it while they can.

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