Friday, July 13, 2018

Karakoram Summer 2018: K2 and Broad Peak Summit Schedule Begins to Take Shape

It has already been a long and challenging season in the Karakoram, where poor weather and heavy snow have made things challenging so far. This is especially true for the Japanese team led by Akira Oyabe, who were the first ones to reach the mountain this year and have been waiting the longest for a clear weather window. But if the forecasts are to be believed, things will start to improve late next week, clearing the way for potential summit bids at last. 

Our clearest picture of the schedule ahead comes from Dawa Sherpa at Seven Summits Treks. He tells us that the support Sherpas have fixed the ropes up to Camp 4 today after coming within 150 meters (492 feet) yesterday. The weather has reportedly been very good over the past few days and is expected to remain that way for two more days, after which things get a bit unstable again. 

Looking into next week however, the forecast calls for high winds reaching 60-80 km/h (37-50 mph) higher up on the slopes. Those conditions are expected to last through the weekend before things start to calm down a bit at the start of next week. By next Thursday, the weather looks to improve dramatically, potentially opening the door for the summit push to get underway. Dawa says that all summit bids will take place no earlier than the July 19, setting the stage for the traditional late-July, early-August window.
This being the Karakoram, and weather being notoriously challenging to predict, things could change a lot over the next week. But, the forecast do appear to show a period of improved and more stable weather coming to the region as the end of July nears. In other words, as long as the climbers have acclimatized properly, things are falling right in line. 

Over on Broad Peak, Fredrik Sträng has announced that he and his team are preparing to launch their summit bid on that mountain today. You may recall that they attempted to climb BP earlier in the week, reaching as high as Camp 3 before turning back due to unstable snow and increased avalanche dangers above that point. It now looks like they'll head up the mountain, probably straight back to C3 tomorrow, putting them in position to have a go at the summit on Monday. This will be the final attempt on BP for Sträng this season, as after this push, he and his mates will head over to K2 to begin their preparation there. 

After turning around last week as well, Furtenbach Adventures had promised to make another summit push on Broad Peak too. So far, there has been no indication when––or even if––that will take place. The squad hasn't posted any updates in a few days, but they may be preparing to go back up as well. 

That's all for now. I'll posted more updates as the teams get on the move. It looks like the summit season is about to get underway in the Karakoram and we should have more news soon. 

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