Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Climbs 2015: More Teams Depart the Karakoram, Success Elsewhere

The long and difficult summer climbing season in Pakistan looks like it may be truly finished now. Earlier in the week numerous teams announced their intentions to leave Base Camp on K2 and Broad Peak, but there were still a few holdouts who were hoping to summit those mountains. Now, it seems that those teams have packed and left as well, bringing the curtain down on the season at last.

A few days back we noted that Nick Cienski's 6 Summits Challenge team was still in BC and hoping to have another crack at Broad Peak before calling an end to the expedition. But yesterday, Nick and his squad succumbed to the inevitable, calling off their plans to attempt one more summit bid. In a dispatch posted to the 6 Summits Facebook page it was revealed that conditions remain incredibly bad above 25,000 feet (7620 meters), with deep snow making it impossible to reach the summit.

While on Broad Peak this summer, Nick made three separate attempts to top out, but he and his teammates were turned back each time. Heavy snows up top and unseasonably warm temperatures at lower altitudes have simply made the mountain too dangerous to climb, and with time running out on the summer season, it is time to head home at last.

Nick's original plan for the year was to climb six different 8000-meter peaks, but bad luck has prevented him from claiming any at all. His spring climbing season in Nepal was cut short by the massive April 25 earthquake, and now extremely poor weather in the Karakoram has killed his chances of nabbing any summits this summer too. Where he'll go with his project remains to be seen.


The 6 Summits Challenge crew aren't the only ones who have decided to pull the plug on their expeditions. Aussie climber Chris Jensen Burke has also left BC for home. She said that her team was living in denial the past few days, waiting beyond home for a chance to summit. But it simply isn't in the cards this year, so she has already begun the journey back to Skardu as well.

This summer season stands in stark contrast to last year, when more than 40 people were able to summit the mighty K2. This year there were no summits it all on that mountain, and just one on Broad Peak. It was certainly a reminder of just how difficult it typically is to climb on those mountains.

The season hasn't been a complete loss however. ExWeb is reporting that Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman achieved the first ascent of the West Summit of Link Sar, a 6938 meter (22,762 ft) peak in the Karakoram range. The climb took seven days to complete, and the initial objective was the main summit, but when conditions proved too dangerous to complete that plan, they switched to the West Summit instead. Climbing.com has details on the expedition, and what it was like for them on this remote mountain where the weather was just as bad as elsewhere, but they had a few more variables go their way.

Congrats to Jon and Andy on completing a great climb. It is good to see that the mountains didn't turn everyone back this year. The rest of the teams are now making their way home, and our attention will start to turn to the fall climbing season back in Nepal and Tibet.

No comments: