from stu in the usa office
13th July, 2010
It is a rare thing to be climbing an 8000m peak and even rarer to be climbing 2 of them at the same time! Indeed we have our team on Broad Peak with C3 already established and now we have installed C2 up the road at K2 and with that FTA is climbing the 2nd and 12th highest peaks on the planet at this time!
Many months ago when we mapped out how we would try these two peaks side by side we had envisioned that if our guides and HAP’s could be in great form and the route and weather permitting that we would hope to have Fabrizio making a run up to C2 or C3 on the Cesen while Chris and Ben were finishing off the route to C3 on Broad Peak. Sure enough this has come to pass and we are on schedule. Additionally the weather appears ready to give us a short 2-day window of low winds for our first summit push of the summer! On the 17th July we hope to have members on the top of Broad Peak so wish us luck!
C2 and higher on K2
Fabrizio called in from C2 on the Cesen route on the 11th to let us know that all well on the Cesen route. He and Aziz and Farhad came over to the K2 BC on the 10th and then scooted up the route in something over 4 hours to reach C2. Fabrizio said that the route was in the best condition he had ever seen it down low and that they did not even use fixed rope (placed there so far by the polish team) until just below the camp. Unfortunately at this point the conditions turned more icy than he has ever seen. So a strange pattern of too much snow low, ice in the middle and likely sugar snow above that we have seen on Broad Peak, continues on K2.
Loaded with 3 tents, 300m of rope and their own sleeping gear the trio hoped to complete fixing the route to C3 on the 12th but was turned back by high winds and descended BC. They are using the 13th and 14th to rest and will join the Broad Peak summit push on the 15th.
Meanwhile on Broad Peak
The rest of the crew over at Broad Peak has all come down to BC and is resting up in anticipation of a summit push. After Fabrizio had finished putting in the final line to C3 last week (on the 9th) all of the members made high point tags on the 9th and 10th. Chris and Ben managed to take enormous loads of gear (tents, oxygen and more) to C3 (7100m) and both are feeling very strongly. I spoke to Chris at the Broad Peak BC and he sounded great. He was commenting on how strong he feels in comparison to previous trips to the Karakoram with this now his 6th 8000m effort (Cho Oyu in 2007, Gasherbrum II in 2008, Broad Peak and K2 in 2009 and Cho Oyu in 2010). Ben also is feeling his strongest on his 3rd 8000m trip now with previous shots on Cho Oyu in 2008 and on Broad Peak in 2009.
We have been watching the weather very carefully and it looks like the team will have modest winds on the 16th and 17th enabling them to establish a C4 on the16th and summit from two locations on the 17th. The group camped in C3 will leave a bit earlier and join the group leaving from C4. The conditions have so far thwarted other groups summit bids either due to deep/sugar snow or due to high winds. We hope with enough people to share the plowing and a few days of lower winds that we will have a good chance to make the top.
At this time the plan is as follows
On the 14th Ben, Rob, Brian, Meagan, Taqui, Ghulam, Asgar will head up to C2 with hopes of reaching C3 on the 15th and C4 on the 16th. Their move to C4 will be a midday move of 2-3 hours and is intended to shorten up their summit day. The exact location will depend on how they are going but likely be approximately 7500m.
On the 15th Fabrizio, Chris, Aziz, Farhad, Mike, Jo, Garth, Ed, Luis, Katrina, Lhakpa and Tshering plan to move up to C2 to begin their final push on Broad Peak. Many of this crew will plan to simply spend a night in C3 and then drop to BC in preparation for K2 while Jo, Mike will certainly make a summit bid along with our guides and HAP’s.
We’ll be watching the progress very carefully as well as the weather and make a final call about the summit push on the 16th when we see if the weather window is holding. Fingers crossed and pray to the weather gods for great weather!!
While our teams are in the field I always try to read a book of history, culture or climbing related to our trip and I am working my way through “ K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain” and enjoying his history, personal philosophy and opinions. I had the pleasure of meeting Ed Viesturs in 2003, when he and Frenchman J.C. Lafaille were climbing on Broad Peak following their trip to Nanga Parbat, and he strikes one immediately as self-assured but unassuming and was extremely friendly and forthright. I am finding the book to be similar and highly recommend the book for a good read!
In Viesturs book, in the chapter “The Motivator”, he describes K2 as follows: “A sharp Pyramid of black rock, sheer now gullies and ridges, and ominous hanging glaciers, K2 has a symmetry and grace that make it the most striking of the fourteen 8,000ers. Rising from the Baltoro Glacier in the heart of the Karakoram, K2 is flanked by five other of the world’s seventeen highest peaks. The range, in fact, holds the densest concentration of skyscraping mountains anywhere in the world–even denser than the Himalaya around Everest. Yet K2 soars in proud isolation over Broad Peak, Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II and its other formidable neighbors.” (p8) He then describes various climbers reactions to seeing the mountain including Younghusband and Messner but sums it up best with his own response to seeing it from above Paiju “That is one huge mo-fo!” When our bid on Broad Peak concludes we’ll be heading over to eh Mo-Fo and likely that will be on the 23rd when the porters arrive from Askole. They’ll move the bc over to K2 and then support he Broad Peak only folks (Ben, Rob, Ian, Mike & Jo) back out to showers and shaves in Skardu!
A few other books I have been reading this past year may also be of interest as well. Greg Mortenson’s two books (Three Cups of Tea and Stones to Schools) are helpful in understanding the larger issues in Baltistan in particular and in Pakistan and Afganistan in general. A recent history of mountaineering “Fallen Giants” is a must read for anyone interested in the background of climbers and mountains in the greater ranges in the world. As we will be on Nanga Parbat next summer the books examination of the German Expeditions there provides great
In addition to our regular 8000m trips to Broad Peak, Cho Oyu, Gasherbrum II, K2, and Makalu we’ll be adding Nanga Parbat in summer 2011 and Everest in spring 2012. With good luck we’ll have Kanchenjunga, Manasulu and Shishapangma trips as well over the next 3 years.
For the moment we are focusing on this autumns Cho Oyu, Island Peak, Ama Dablam, Cholatse, Everest BC treks, Satopanth and Tharpu Chuli. We have spaces remaining on most of theses trips so drop us a note if you are interested in joining our great guides and staff for a trip to Nepal, India or Tibet!
See our expeditions and treks pages for more!