Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pakistan 2014: Teams Leaving Base Camp, Final K2 Summit Push Underway

The 2014 climbing season in Pakistan is starting to wind down, as most of the teams on Broad Peak, Gasherbrum II, and K2 have now left their respective Base Camps, and have started the long journey home. For most, that will involve a 70 mile (112 km) trek back to Askole, where they can finally board motorized vehicles to carry them to Skardu. Once there, some will hop a short flight to Islamabad, while others will brave a grueling two-day bus ride back to the Pakistani capital. After that, they just face a very long flight home, although most will be consoled by the fact that they accomplished what they had set out to in the mountains.

Alan Arnette's team left BC on K2 yesterday, but not before he posted an update on his condition, and some photos from the summit push. He acknowledges that the mountain is incredibly difficult, and it pushed him to his very limits. Alan admits that he wanted to stop, and turn back, on three separate occasions, but the support he felt from his thousands of readers, and his desire to push on for his cause (he climbed to fight Alzheimer's), spurred him on to the summit.

Alan also says the descent was incredibly difficult as well. Exhausted from the effort it took to get to the summit, coming down the mountain was treacherous, and only helped to sap his remaining strength. He says that he has never been more relieved to be back in BC, and he has never been prouder of his teammates.

It should be noted that Sunday was Alan's birthday, and the best gift of all was K2 summit I'm sure. He turned 58 on that day, which could give him the record of being the oldest person to ever reach the top of the Mountaineer's Mountain. Quite an impressive and inspiring record to hold.

As most of the teams abandon K2 for the season, there are still two squad seeking the summit. The Polish team preparing for a winter ascent, along with Bulgarian climber Boyen Petrov, fresh off his summit of Broad Peak, have launched their final push to the top today. Reportedly, the weather is still good, and conditions high on the mountain are great by K2 standards, so hopefully they will get up and down safely.

Finally, ExWeb has more details on the death of Spanish climber Miguel Angel Perez, who passed away in Camp 4 on K2 a few days back. Apprently, Perez was part of the initial summit push, but turned back 300 meters below the summit. Upon returning to C4, he was able to eat, rehydrate, and rest, which allowed him to regain his strength enough to go for the summit a second time. He did so on a solo effort on July 28.

Unfortunately, due to exhaustion, he was very slow on the descent, and was forced to camp out in the elements at 8300 meters (27,230 feet) over night. Following that ordeal, he managed to descend to Camp 4, where he was reportedly doing well. By that point, a rescue operation was underway, with a team of Pakistani climbers heading up to try to assist him down. Before they could reach him however, Miguel passed away in Camp 4.

This is sad news that hands like a dark cloud over what has been an incredibly successful season on K2. Once again, I express my condolences to his friends and family. Lets hope the remaining climbers on the mountain don't add any more fatalities to this season.

More updates will follow as they come in.

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