Monday, July 16, 2018

Karakoram Summer 2018: Summits on Broad Peak, Missing Climber Found by Drone

While the teams on K2 sit, wait, and watch the weather, things have been progressing in other parts of the Karakoram. In our last update from the end of last week we knew that a couple of teams were preparing to launch summit bids on nearby Broad Peak, where things have seemingly stabilized and improved in recent days.

One of the teams preparing to make a second summit bid was Furtenbach Adventures, who were thwarted in their earlier attempt on the summit due to unstable conditions above Camp 3. But at the end of last week they announced that the team was fully rested and ready to give it another try. This morning we learn that an unknown number of clients, guides, and Sherpas reached the top after fixing the ropes from Camp 3. As of this writing, the team is now descending and will likely be back in C3 later today and Base Camp tomorrow. From there, at least some members of the squad will head over to K2 to attempt that mountain as well.

Meanwhile, Fredrik Sträng and his team launched a summit bid at the end of last week too. Presumably they were also able to top out today, but so far he hasn't updated his Facebook page with any information. Sträng and his squad also turned back on Broad Peak early last week due to high risks of avalanche danger above C3. When they're done on BP, they'll also jump over to K2.

Alan Arnette is reporting an interesting story from Broad Peak involving a drone that was used in the rescue of a lost climber. It seems that famed Alpinist Rick Allen had attempted a solo summit of the mountain and went missing on the descent. He, and a group of other climbers that included Casper Tekieli, Sandy Allan, and Stanislav Vrba were attempting a new route and apparently were successful in their bid, reaching the summit a few days back. But after that, things start to get a bit nebulous.

According to Arentte's report, Dan Mazur of Summit Climb indicated that Allen had died on the descent and that his teammates had taken his satellite phone and left him high on the mountain. But later, a drone pilot – the brother of Andrzej Bargiel's brother no less – flying his UAV on K2 spotted the missing climber all alone and wandering off route on Broad Peak. He apparently alerted others, who sent word to BP Base Camp, and the search for Allen was on. Later, Sträng's team reported finding Allen and helped him down to Camp 3. He had fallen off an ice cliff and was presumed dead by his teammates, but spent more than 36 hours solo at altitude, without a stove to even melt water.

This is a great story for sure and I'm looking forward to hearing more about how this all unfolded. The use of the drone to spot him is another reminder of how this technology is changing the world of outdoor adventure and exploration. It is also a testament to the teams on Broad Peak that they worked together to get Rick Allen safely down. While he no doubt needs some medical attention, hopefully he'll come out of this relatively intact.

Elsewhere, Alan Arnette is also reporting that teams are making good progress on Gasherbrum I and II. In fact, if the weather holds we could see summits on both of those peaks today or tomorrow. Bad weather is expected to slam any weather windows shut later in the week, but teams lead by Adam Bielecki and Dávid Klein and Szilárd Suhajda are already on the move and getting into position for the push to the top.

Finally, it looks like Nanga Parbat is pretty much deserted now. With the risk of avalanche danger too high on the upper slopes of the peak, it seems that all of the teams have picked up and left BC. It has been a difficult season on the mountain with only a few summits, but it is good to see teams returning to this mountain after a few years of inactivity following the 2013 tragedy there. Hopefully more will follow.

More news to come over the next few days I'm sure.

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