Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pakistan 2014: Summit Push Aborted on Broad Peak, Struggles on K2

This past weekend was suppose to present a summit window on Broad Peak, where teams have been lining up to launch their push towards the top, but poor conditions have forced most climbers to turn back and wait for better opportunities. Meanwhile, over on K2, the acclimatization process is well underway, although attempts to go higher on that mountain have been thwarted as well.

Australian climber Chris Jensen Burke is amongst those who started their summit push on Broad Peak last week, and hoped to top out today. But an update posted just a few hours ago indicates that she was forced to turn back after encountering waist-deep snow at 7400 meters (24,278 feet). Burke says that there are no fixed ropes to the summit yet, and that breaking trail under those conditions was incredibly exhausting. As a result of those tough conditions, there have been no summits on BP this season, although Chris things that will change soon, as more teams get focused on their climb. Unfortunately for her, she won't be around to join them. With her acclimatization over, and a single summit attempt complete, she now moves over to K2 Base Camp to begin focusing on that mountain.

The weather on Broad Peak is expected to improve starting tomorrow, which should allow other teams to finish the installation of the fixed ropes, and perhaps even launch a new round of summit bids. Others are still getting acclimatized, so it may be another week or two before the action on BP truly heats up. Some of the teams that were on the mountain early are ready to go, but others are still getting settled. Either way, it'll probably be the weekend at the earliest before anyone can attempt to reach the top again.

Over on K2, nearly every team is currently on an acclimatization rotation. Unfortunately, high winds are preventing most of the climbers from going above Camp 2, so most are either in C1 or have climbed up to that point. Amongst them are Adrian Hayes and Al Hancock, who are climbing together. Yesterday they climbed above C2, but found the high winds unbearable, with cold temperatures just making the entire situation worse. When it became clear that they weren't going to reach C3, they turned back, and spent the night in Camp 2. Today, they'll descend back to Base Camp, with their second rotation complete. Al says that after resting there, they'll be ready for a summit push, although it is unclear when the mountain will allow them to launch that attempt.

ExWeb is reporting that one climber has managed to reach Camp 3 on K2. Finnish mountaineer Samuli Mansikka sent a dispatch that he had arrived in C3 after battling poor conditions. But, he indicated that once he was there, conditions improved quite a bit. That bodes well for others to follow, but a true summit push is still sometime off.

It has been a couple of days since Alan Arnette has checked in from K2, but when he issued his last dispatch, he had reached Camp 1 as part of his first rotation. He indicated that the "Savage Mountain" lives up to its reputation, challenging climbers with every step. Even relatively early in the climb, the slopes are steep, and technical, requiring concentration with every step. From Camp 1, it will only get more difficult, but for now, Alan is acclimatizing and going through all the steps he needs to give himself a shot at the summit. Look for him to return to Base Camp in another day or two, and he'll likely post another update at that time.

Finally, over on the Gasherbrums, Turkish climber Tunç Finkik has returned to Base Camp on GII after going as high as Camp 2 last week. There haven't been many details released just yet, but it appears that things are going according to plan, with no major issues thus far.

That's all from Pakistan for now. Expect summit pushes on Broad Peak to resume again soon, while elsewhere the teams acclimatize and prepare for the challenges ahead.

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