Thursday, July 06, 2017

Summer Climbs 2017: Weather Stalls Teams on K2 and Broad Peak

The best laid plans of mice and men... are often stymied by weather conditions. At least, that seems to be the case when it comes to mountaineering. In the big mountains of Pakistan, teams are currently in a holding pattern as they wait and watch the skies, waiting for an opportunity to continue their expeditions.

On Broad Peak, several squads had hoped to launch summit bids this week, but bad weather this past weekends derailed those plans, leaving the Dreamers Destinations and Furtenbach Adventures teams in Base Camp while they await improved conditions. Both groups are expecting new opportunities to come in the next few days, which means we could see summit bids launch today or tomorrow. Things are apparently still unsettled on the higher sections of the mountain, making it tough going. Depending on what happens over the next few days, the climbers may elect to wait for the loose snow to settle before going up.

One climber who is already on the move is Spaniard Oscar Cadiach. According to his latest status update, he has moved up to Camp 2 on Broad Peak, as he moves into position to begin a summit push of his own. Right now, the plan is to head to the top on Sunday, although if conditions aren't right, he is prepared to wait until Monday before making the final decision to go up or down.

Meanwhile, over K2, the teams are dealing with a similar situation at the moment. Bad weather has rolled in on that mountain too, with snow in the forecast for the next few days. Temperatures have been warm however, which means that all of that snow is creating unstable conditions high on the mountain, with alpinist Fredrik Sträng reporting plenty avalanches. In a status update today he also talks about an attempt to climb up to Camp 2, which was thwarted by poor conditions. Visibility was reportedly cut short and the trek was made all the worse by "trap mines" or large holes in the glacier that are covered with snow, making it unsafe for anyone to walk over. Sträng and his team have returned to BC to wait for a better opportunity.


Earlier in the week I reported that the Himex team was hoping to climb up to C2 as part of their first acclimatization rotation as well, but even those efforts were halted. High winds put an end to those efforts, with Sherpas not getting a good opportunity to fix ropes to that point on the hill. The team did go up to C1 however, but were back in Base Camp in time for lunch.

Finally, in a previous post that I shared a few days back, I mentioned that the Furtenbach Adventures team had cryptically posted about other squads on the mountain who were unwilling to lend a hand in the efforts to fix ropes on Broad Peak. The team promised more info after the climb, but we have some insights into the situation now thanks to Stefan Nestler's Adventure Sports blog.

Apparently, Furtenbach and Dreamers Destinations have joined forces to fix ropes on Broad Peak and K2, with each team taking a turn on getting the lines into place. But, there are other squads in Base Camp on those mountains who have not only refused to lend a hand in those efforts, but apparently didn't even bring any rope with them to the mountains. The offenders haven't been named exactly, but it seems their plan all along has been to simply use the ropes that others have worked hard to install, and they haven't even offered to contribute equipment or money to the cause either. This has, understandably, caused some hard feeling and resentment in the Base Camps on both mountains.

We'll just have to wait to see if this causes further friction in the days ahead. That's all for now.

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