Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Summer Climbs 2015: Expeditions Unfolding on K2, Broad Peak, and Gasherbrums

It has been a busy couple of weeks in Pakistan, where the climbing teams on K2, Broad Peak, and the Gasherbrums are now getting ready to get down to business. When I left for Alaska, the climbers were still en route to their various base camps in the Himalaya and Karakoram, but now most have settled in and started their acclimatization process. They'll begin begin working the mountain, with most eyeing summit bids by the end of July.

British climber David Tait has his eyes on K2 this year after summiting Everest on five separate occasions. He's currently acclimatizing on Broad Peak at the moment, where he hope to prepare his body for the challenges ahead. He reports that conditions on BP are very cold at the moment, but that the expedition is proceeding according to plan. Yesterday, he and his team climbed up to Camp 2 as part of their acclimatization process, where he spent a very chilly night after forgetting his sleeping pad back in BC, a lesson he says he'll only need to be taught once.

Chris Jensen Burke is headed back to Broad Peak this summer as well. She made an attempt on the mountain last year but was turned back due to bad weather. She did go on to successfully summit K2 however, but the Aussie woman still has unfinished business with BP. At the moment she is still trekking towards Base Camp, which she should reach in the next few days. Her expedition was delayed for four straight days due to flights to Skardu being cancelled. Now, she's ready to get down to work and add yet another 8000-meter peak to her resume.

The Madison Mountaineering team, which includes American climber Vanessa O'Brien, is also attempting the Broad Peak-K2 double header this summer. The squad is currently trekking towards Base Camp as well, and should arrive there today. They'll take a day or two to get their legs – and lungs – in order before they start moving up the slope.

Over in K2 Base Camp, the Himex team is finding the weather to be both pleasant and warm. Temperatures in BC are said to be in the 25-30ºC /77-86ºF, which is actually quite comfortable in the mountains. K2 is well known for its poor weather, but currently it is pleasant there, although that can change very quickly. While the weather may be good however, the conditions on the mountain remain difficult. There were no less than five avalanches throughout the day yesterday, and possibly three more over night. Those avalanches are covering BC in a fine dust of snow, but there is no danger to the climbers encamped there. As they move up to C1 and C2 however, they'll need to take great caution.

Climber/journalist Billi Bierling is in Base Camp on K2, where she reports that the setting is simply stunning. She arrived there on the first of July, and is now on her first acclamation rotation. The team had its Puja ceremony on July 3 ahead of the start of their climbing activities, and now things are starting to heat up. She'll probably go up to C2 on this first round, before descending back to BC for a rest.

The team of Mike Horn, Fred Roux, and Köbi Reichen was the first to arrive in K2 Base Camp, and as such they are at the front of the climbing schedule. The team has now gone as high as Camp 3 where they are currently stashing gear and plan to spend the night to night. From there, they'll descend back to BC where they'll begin waiting and watching the weather. When conditions are good, the trio of Swiss climbers intend to set off on the first summit bid of the season.

ExWeb has an update on the unfolding climbing season on Gasherbrum I and II, where teams are still getting settled. The squads on that mountain have started their first rotation as well, although they report poor weather conditions including high winds, heavy snow, and low visibility. Teams headed up to Camp 1 and 2 a few days back, and are taking advantage of whatever weather windows they are given to make progress.

That's all for today. I'll post more updates in the days ahead as things begin to unfold. Right now, it is all about acclimatization and preparing for summit bids, which for most are still a few weeks off. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Henry Williamsonn said...

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