The summer climbing season in the Karakoram isn't over just yet, although just about everyone has gone home at this point. But two Czech climbers remain in the mountains, and have now launched a summit bid on Gasherbrum I along a new route on the Southwest Face.
ExWeb indicates that climbers Marek Holecek and Tomas Petrecek set out from Base Camp last Friday amidst good weather. They had hoped to climb has high as 5600 meters (18,737 ft) that day, before transitioning over to the start of their new route. They are traveling with a cameraman to help document the expedition, and they are now expected to be out of communications while they make an alpine style ascent of the mountain.
The team first arrived in BC on the Gasherbrum Massif back in late July, and spent the first couple of weeks acclimatizing on GII, going as high as 7000 meters (22,965 ft) on that mountain. After that, they returned to Base Camp and waited for a proper weather window to emerge, even as the other climbing teams in Pakistan this summer departed for home. Now, their patience has paid off, and they are finally able to launch their summit bid. We'll just have to wait to see if they are successful.
It has been a long and challenging season in the Karakoram. There have been very few summits to be had, as the weather has made climbing difficult and dangerous. Frequent avalanches on Broad Peak and K2 limited access to the summit, and as a result there has been only one successful ascent of either of those mountains this year. The Gasherbrum peaks have seen a bit more action, with several teams topping out on both GI and GII this season, although even those numbers were not large.
Marek and Tomas' expedition could be the crowning achievement of the season if they are able to complete it successfully. A new route on an 8000-meter peak doesn't happen all that often, and considering the success rate in Pakistan this summer, if they are able to top out it will be an impressive accomplishment. Stay tuned for more updates as they emerge, and keep your fingers crossed that they are able to get up and down safely.