Monday, July 03, 2017

Summer Climbs 2017: Progress on K2, Summit Attempts on Broad Peak

The summer climbing season in Pakistan continues to unfold at a rapid pace. Now that July is here, teams are already laying out their schedule for acclimatization and possibly summit bids, with some big plans ahead should the next few weeks unfold as expected. But things don't always go as planned in the Karakoram and for most, there is a lot of work to be done before the summer ends.

We'll start today's update with news from Broad Peak, where several teams are now preparing for a summit bid later in the week. They had hoped to go up as early as today, but the weather shifted on them over the weekend, causing a delay. Those teams include Kobler & Partners and Furtenbach Adventures, as well as Spaniard Oscar Cadiach. Grace McDonald will also be a part of this push,  and she checked in from Camp 1 today where she reports the snow is very soft and making it tough to climb. Her squad hopes to move up to C2 tomorrow in search of better conditions.

As a side note, in its latest update on Facebook, the Furtenbach team indicates that there is another squad on the mountain that has refused to help with logistics. Details are sparse, but the person writing the report says that "Blame and shame will follow after the summit push." It should be interesting to find out exactly what is going on and what they are referring to.

Over on K2, the teams are getting settled into place and have begun their acclimatization process. The Himex squad arrived last week and are already comfortable enough to be heading up to Camp 2 at the moment, while other groups of climbers are spread out across the mountain. As usual, the weather is wildly unpredictable on K2, with conditions shifting dramatically throughout even a single day. But that is to be expected on the toughest mountain on the planet, where opportunities to summit are few and far between. Still, all is going about as well as can be expected so far, although we are several weeks away from a legitimate summit bid.

Speaking of K2, Outside magazine has posted an interesting story that touches on historical attempts to ski the mountain, as well as ongoing expeditions to make the first full ski descent of the peak this year as well. Two men are independently attempting  to achieve that feat, including Slovenian Davo Karnicar and Polish alpinist Andrzej Bargiel. Both have impressive records for climbing and skiing big mountains, with Karnicar completing the first full ski descent of Everest back in 2010 and Bargiel achieving the same goal on Broad Peak in 2015. K2 is a different beast than either of those mountains however, so it should be interesting to follow their efforts in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, sad news from Nanga Parbat where the search for missing climbers Alberto Zerain and Mariano Galvan has ended. Bad weather grounded the helicopters for several days at the end of last week, preventing a true search from getting underway. When they did return to the air, there was no sign of the two missing men, but SAR teams did spot what appeared to be an avalanche at the last known spot of the duo's GPS tracker. It is now believed that the heavy snow swept them off the mountain, claiming their lives in the process. Our condolences go out to Alberto and Mariano's friends and family.

That's all for today. More updates to come soon.

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