Friday, July 20, 2018

Karakoram Summer 2018: Summit Push Set for Saturday on K2

More news from the Karakoram today where the teams on K2 are now jockeying for position to get ready for potential summit bids on Saturday. More snow hit the mountain yesterday, but many of the teams were already at Camp 2 or Camp 3, with plans to move up even further today. If the weather window stays open and conditions are good, it now looks like we could see the first summits of the year as early as tomorrow.

Seven Summits Treks is the team that has shared its plans most definitively. Dawa Sherpa says that the squad held tight in Camp 3 yesterday while the Sherpas installed the fixed ropes up to Camp 4. The plan is to go up to that point today, then head to the summit on Saturday. He says that the entire team is in good spirits and ready to go.

Meanwhile, Madison Mountaineering checked in from K2 as well and they're essentially on a similar schedule, perhaps one day further back. Their summit plans include moving up to C3 today and C4 tomorrow, with the potential for a weekend summit too. Team leader Garrett Madison says that they'll take a look at the forecast today and determine their next move from there.

The Japanese team led by Akira Oyabe headed up the mountain a couple of days back, but they haven't shared too many details of their summit bid yet. Judging by when they left Base Camp and where they should be right now, I'd guess they're following the same trajectory as Seven Summits Treks, which would put them in position to go for the summit tomorrow as well.

Judging from his SPOT tracker data, it appears that Andrzej Bargiel is on the move too. He's climbing a different route than the commercial squads and hopes to make the first ski descent of K2 as well. Looking at his current position, it would appear that he is in Camp 3 too. We'll just have to wait to learn more about his expedition once he can share further information.

After finding summit success on Board Peak, several teams on that mountain are now preparing to jump ship and head over to K2. Furtenbach Adventures and Fredrik Sträng should now be preparing to make the trek to their second 8000-meter mountain where they'll get settled, check the forecast and make their own schedule for K2. Remember, traditionally summits on the mountain tend to come in the final week of July or first week of August, so there is still time for these teams. Considering that they are already acclimatized, it should simply be a matter of resting up and then preparing for a second summit bid.

Over on Gasherbrum I, German climber Luis Stitzinger has successfully topped out on the mountain, earning his eighth 8000-meter peak. Stephen Nestler reports that originally Stizinger had hoped to make the first ascent of the 7082-meter-high Urdok Kangri II, but those plans were abandoned due to high levels of fresh, unstable snow on the mountain. While the rest of the team decided to go home, he stayed to knock off another big mountain instead.

Finally, sad news from Saser Kangri IV where ExWeb reports eight time Everest summiteer Pemba Sherpa has passed away. Apparently he fell into a crevasse on his descent from the summit, and while teammates tried valiantly to find the missing climber, they had no success. Our condolences go out to his friends, family, and team.

That's all for now. We'll keep a close eye on things as the summit season continues to develop.

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