Friday, August 12, 2016

Karakoram 2016: Czech Climbers Launch Summit Bid on Gasherbrum I

Earlier in the week we said that the climbing season in the Karakoram was grinding to halt, with most teams now long gone. But, one team remained in the mountain holding out home that they would still get a chance at the summit on Gasherbrum I, and along a new no less.

Czech climbers Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula are now in the midst of a summit push along a route that Holecek has already attempted on three previous occasions. According to ExWeb, the duo set out from BC on Tuesday with the hopes of being into position to complete their climb today. Poor weather has momentarily stalled their attempt however, although they are hoping for conditions to improve this weekend so they can finish the ascent.

When the duo launched this summit push they climbed up to 6000 meters (19,685 ft) on Tuesday, setting up their first camp after a long day in mixed weather conditions. On Wednesday of this week the weather had improved and they set out to climb higher, but as they went, conditions once again deteriorated. Snow began to fall on the mountain, and several avalanches occurred, cutting off their ability to safely descend. Instead, they went up and found shelter near a serac, pitching their tent at 6800 meters (22,309 ft). That is where they have stayed for the past two days, waiting for things to improve. The plan is to wait out the weather, then move up to 7400 meters (24,278 ft) for one last campsite before moving on to the summit.

The new route is one that Holecek has scouted in the past, going up Gasherbrum I's southwest face. As mentioned, the Czech climber has failed to complete his ascent along this new path on three separate occasions, but he now believes that his persistence will pay off and he and Mandula can top out. At this point that all depends on the weather, and the amount of supplies that they have left. Summiting this late in the season is a bit uncommon in the Karakoram, but not unheard of. They will need some luck to go their way however.

We'll be keeping an eye on their progress throughout the next few days. Hopefully they'll find success along this new route, but if not it will be more important that they ascend safely. I'll keep you posted!

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