Monday, June 15, 2015

Summer Climbs 2015: Climbers Arriving in Pakistan

The summer climbing season is ready to begin in ernest, as teams of climber have begun to arrive in Pakistan. It will take them some time to reach their respective Base Camps in the Himalaya and Karakoram, but we will soon see some action in the big mountains once again.

One of the first arrivals in Islamabad is David Tait, who flew in over the weekend. Tait, who is a 5-time Everest summiteer – is in Pakistan to climb K2 as part of the Himex squad and should be heading out shortly. He'll be filming a POV documentary for Discovery while he is there, capturing his expedition from a first person perspective.

Also climbing with Himex is Bili Bierling, who often writes dispatches for the expedition company while on various climbs. She left her home in Nepal last week and should be in Pakistan already, but there have been no updates in recent days. She'll be attempting Broad Peak this summer. In her pre-climb dispatch Bili indicated that the team would fly to Skardu tomorrow, than take a jeep caravan to Askole where they would begin the 8-day trek to BC. That would put them on the mountain next Tuesday if all things go as planned.

This being Pakistan, things rarely go as planned however. The trio of Mike Horn, Fred Roux and Köbi Reichen discovered this after arriving in the country back in early June. The climbers have been stuck in Askole themselves while they wait for their security clearance to be processed. Presumably they would be able to head out tomorrow as well if they don't proceed sooner. This summer they'll be focused on K2.


American climber Venessa O'Brien will be attempting K2 as part of the Madison Mountaineering team. Neither she, nor the company, have posted any updates so far, so it is unclear where she is at exactly. Presumably her team is now in country and making their way to the mountain, but we'll have to wait for an update to know for certain.

Al Hancock wil be attempting Broad Peak this summer as part of his bid to become the first Canadian to climb all 14 8000-meter peaks. He nabbed K2 last year when a historical number of people summited that mountain, and this year he'll return to finish BP too. There is no word on when his expedition will begin, as Al has not posted any updates yet, but presumably he is en route to Pakistan or already there as well.

Similarly, Chris Jensen Burke has rumored to be returning to Broad Peak as well, although we have yet to hear about her plans either. She did post an interesting story to her blog that rebutted a recent article that called mountaineering the "height of empty egoism" however which is well worth reading.

There are other climbers and teams heading to both K2, Broad Peak, and the Gasherbrums. I expect we'll start to see some dispatches from them all very soon. The pre-climb trek will take a few more days, but after that we should see a steady stream of updates keeping us posted on the progress of the teams. Until that happens, we'll need to remain a bit patient. The summer climbing season is just about to truly get underway, and than things should get very interesting indeed.

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