Friday, July 11, 2014

Pakistan 2014: Summit Push Begins on Broad Peak, Teams Ready to Climb on K2

Photo Courtesy of Alan Arnette
It has been a busy week in Pakistan, where the climbing teams are now getting into position to start their summit bids on Broad Peak, and the K2 climbers have wrapped up their Puja Ceremony, granting them permission to officially begin heading up the mountain as well. While the end point of the season is still a few weeks off, things are progressing according to plan, with the first summits of the summer now in sight.

Chris Jensen Burke has checked in from Broad Peak where she reports that she, and her Sherpa Lapka, are now ready to begin their final summit push. They will leave today, and go as high as they can before turning back. Their hope is to reach the summit, but the main goal is K2, so they will use their experience on BP to acclimatize before joining the teams on that massive mountain. Chris says that there is heavy snow high on the slopes of Broad Peak, which will make it tough to break trail. She also indicated that the ropes are not fixed above Camp 2, so there is some work to be done in that regard. Apparently, not all of the team in Base Camp are willing to pull their weight in terms of contributing to those efforts.

In her latest dispatch, the Aussie climber reported seeing a Bulgarian climber heading up towards the summit this morning. ExWeb speculates that that would be Boyan Petrov, who had reached 7700 meters (25,262 ft) on June 30, and has been waiting to make a final summit bid ever since. If all goes well, he should top out this weekend.

Burke also reports that Australian climber Gavin Vickers has left BC on Broad Peak. He turned his ankle on a descent from Camp 1 a few days back, and did enough damage to prevent him from climbing higher. It's a sad way to end an expedition.

Meanwhile over on K2, Alan Arnette has already been living up to his promise of covering a climb of that mountain like never before. He has been making daily dispatches from Base Camp, sharing insights and news from the second tallest mountain on the planet. His latest dispatch indicated that the teams completed their Puja Ceremony this morning, and that Alan and his teammates were setting off for Advanced Base Camp this afternoon. Alan reports good weather there at the moment, and says that the Puja was one of the best he had ever taken part in.

For those who don't know, the Puja Ceremony is conducted by Buddhist monks, who ask the mountain gods for permission to climb. The mountaineers, and their equipment, receive blessings for safe passage, and in the Himalaya of Nepal and Tibet, the ceremonies are standard operating procedure. That tradition has carried over to other big mountains where the Sherpas climb in support as well.

Alan says that this was a particularly good Puja for several reasons. First, unlike on Everest where there are dozens of teams and hundreds of climbers, in K2 BC the teams are small and their are fewer people. This has led to more cohesive bonds between everyone in Base Camp. The other reason this was such a memorable Puja, is that the clear skies and great weather have given everyone an unfettered view of the mountain, including the summit which they'll all be aspiring to reach.

On Gasherbrum I, Tunç Findik has started his acclimatization process. He is currently up at Camp 2, located at 6400 meters (20,997 ft). That's great progress already for a climber who just reached BC a few days back. Tunç is running a bit behind his own schedule however, so he is most likely working hard to make up ground.

Finally, David Lama has checked in from Base Camp on Masherbrum. He reports that bad weather is expected there in the next few days, so he and his team are settling in before proceeding up. He, and his team, are attempting to summit along a tough new route after acclimatizing on Broad Peak a few weeks back.

More updates next week, including the news of possible summits on BP. Stay tuned.

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