Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer Climbs 2017: History Made on K2 and Broad Peak! (Updated)

While I was away at Outdoor Retailer last week, history was being made in the Karakoram. After nearly three years without a summit on K2, 12 climbers managed to reach the top of that mountain during a narrow weather window that proved to be just enough to provide access to the top.

The summit push began last Friday, July 27 with the Dreamers Destination squad launching their bid from Camp 4 on the mountain. The group spent 16 hours on the long ascent up, which as Alan Arnette points out is an extraordinarily long time on the climb. Alan was amongst those who summited back in 2014, taking 8 hours to go to the top.

The team consisted of seven Nepali Sherpas who helped lead the Dreamers Destination clients to the summit. Those clients included Vanessa O'Brien, who was making her third attempt on the mountain. In successfully reaching the top, she becomes the first American woman and British woman to climb K2, holing dual citizenship in those two countries. She was joined by John Snorri Sigurjonsson who is the first person from Iceland to climb K2 as well. Chinese climber Zhang Liang was also part of the summit team, nabbing his 14th and final 8000 meter peak.

After a long and grueling day on the mountain, the team descended back to Camp 4 for a rest, before then dropping all the way back to Base Camp on Saturday. They are all down and safe, and are now preparing to head home.

Meanwhile, a second wave of summit attempts launched over the weekend, although it appears that all of the climbers have now turned back and are departing the mountain as well. Amongst those who turned back are the Polish squad who were training for an upcoming winter attempt, as well as Fredrik Sträng and Andrzej Bargiel, who had been planning to make a ski descent. Conditions turned dicey during the summit push, forcing the climbers to turn around. The weather forecast doesn't look good for the coming days, which means that while a few stragglers are holding out for another opportunity, most are preparing to leave BC for good.

Finally, over on Broad Peak there was another successful summit as well. Chinese climber Lou Jing, joined by Nurbu and San Sherpa, topped out on that mountain at the end of last week too. The trio have also returned to Base Camp and are now preparing to head for home as well.

Update: Spanish climber Oscar Cadiach also topped out on Broad Peak last week, completing his quest to climb all 14 8000-meter peaks. He returned to Base Camp safely as well, and is now en route home.

It appears that the summer climbing season in Pakistan is all but over. The first week of August is traditionally the end of that season, although there could still be a few more summits in the days ahead. The forecast isn't a promising one however, but we'll keep an eye out for any more developments. It has been a long and interesting season to say the least, and there could still be a surprise or two for us before it is officially done.

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