Monday, July 09, 2018

Karakoram Summer 2018: Death on K2, Summit Bids Denied on Broad Peak

Conditions in the Karakoram of Pakistan continue to be very challenging. The weather continues to be a major obstacle, with snow continuing to fall across the region. This has kept many of the teams from in Base Camp on K2, Broad Peak, and the other 8000-meter mountains, putting the success of all of the expeditions in doubt this summer. And while there is still time for things to improve, the clock is definitely ticking as the end of the climbing season looms just a few weeks away.

We'll start today's update with sad news from K2 where it is being widely reported that a Canadian climber fell to his death this past weekend. Canadian Serge Dessureault was apparently descending from Camp 2 when the accident occurred, although exactly what happened remains open to conjecture. He was reportedly rappelling down the Black Pyramid when his rope broke or some piece of equipment failed, sending him plummeting to his death. His teammates –– Nathalie Fortin and Maurice Beausejour –– both descended safely. 

The accident was witnessed by other climbers, some of whom were in Base Camp at the time, and as Alan Arnette reports, there is conflicting information on what exactly happened. There is some speculation that Dessureault was going down an old fixed rope that was still in place on the Pyramid and that the rope may have broken. Others are saying that he simply slipped and fell. Either way, our condolences go out to his family in their time of need. 

Despite this tragedy, things are proceeding on K2 where the weather is –– at least for now –– fairly stable. Madison Mountaineering reports that their team moved up to Camp 1 yesterday and is proceeding to C2 today as they try to play catch up on the acclimatization efforts. Presumably, other teams are taking advantage of the better conditions as well. The team's Sherpa support squad is also installing ropes up to Camp 3, but is taking extra time and care to ensure that all of the lines are safe following the accident on Saturday. 
Over on Broad Peak, Furtenbach Adventures made an attempt on the summit over the weekend but were turned back at 7800 meters (25,590 ft) due to increased avalanche danger due to all of the heavy snow. The squad has returned to BC where they are resting and refueling before preparing for a second go at the BP summit. Ultimately they plan to jump over to K2 for a late-season summit attempt there, but they still have unfinished business where they are first. 

On Nanga Parbat, Base Camp is all but deserted. The mountain wasn't going to be a busy one this season either way, but now only Maya Sherpa's team remains. Heavy snow has made the mountain very dangerous and weather conditions haven't improved much there. Still, they're not ready to give up on their expedition just yet, so the team will stick it out long enough to see if the mountain will give them an opportunity. 

That's the current state of affairs in the Karakoram at the moment. We'll continue to keep an eye on things moving forward and share any news of progress in the mountains. There is a little less than a month to go in the summer season there and hopefully things will improve enough to allow the climbers to get a crack at their respective summits. So far, it has not been an easy season. 

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