Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer Climbs 2015: 6 Summits Challenge Team Awaits Opportunity on Broad Peak

I've written about Nick Cienski and his 6 Summits Challenge a couple of times in recent months. In case you're not familiar with the expedition, Nick has set a goal of reaching the top of no less than six 8000-meter peaks in a single year – a difficult proposition to say the least. But he hasn't exactly had a lot of luck go his way so far, as his original plans were to summit Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu this past spring. That didn't happen due to the horrendous earthquake that took place in Nepal, and the plan had to be quickly altered to deal with the situation.

In recent weeks, Nick has been in Pakistan, where he has been preparing to climb Broad Peak and K2 in an effort to keep the 6 Summits Challenge on track. But if you've been following the season there, you already know that it has been a difficult one. Poor weather and unstable conditions on both of those mountains have limited access to the higher portions of those peaks, and to date there has been only a single summit on BP, and none at all on K2.

But Nick is a patient man, and despite the fact that most teams have now abandoned Base Camp on K2 and Broad Peak, he seems as determined as ever to reach the top of one, if not both, of those mountains. There has been no indication from his Facebook page, Twitter feed, or journal entries that he is preparing to depart with the rest of the teams, and the latest update on FB says that he and his climbing partners are waiting for better weather to launch a summit bid on Broad Peak.

If a weather window does open, the push to the top will not be easy. You might recall that earlier in the week, the Himex squad made an attempt on the summit of BP but were turned back due to incredibly deep snow near the top. Those conditions aren't likely to have improved much, and breaking trail at such high altitudes is never easy. Still, Nick and his team are committed to the 6 Summits Challenge, and are hoping to at least get a legitimate shot at topping out.

Meanwhile, there are other climbers who have yet to indicate just what their plans are for the days ahead. For instance, Chris Jensen Burke hasn't updated her blog in a few days, but in her last dispatch she indicated that she and her teammates were in a holding pattern on Broad Peak and were waiting for better weather. There hasn't been a word out of Canadian climber Al Hancock all season, so it is unclear exactly where he is on the mountain. Presumably there are a few smaller teams still on BP awaiting their opportunity as well.

Traditionally, the climbing season in Pakistan runs through the first week of August or so, which indicates that there is still some time for conditions to improve and climbs to be completed. While the majority of teams have now left their respective Base Camps, there is a chance that we could still see some summits on Broad Peak in particular. K2 wouldn't be completely out of the question, but judging from reports, it seems highly unlikely.

Stay tuned. I'll continue to keep an eye on the situation, and post updates as warranted.

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