Our team has established camp one on a narrow ridge at approximately 5400m/18000ft and have made carries already to camp 2 at 6250m. In the next few days we hope the entire team will be in C2 and making loads to C3!
|C1 on Broad Peak © Brad Jackson|
As trips wear on there is no doubt that themes become centered around the elemental aspects of life - waking up, finding or making water, moving from one place to another, drinking, eating, peeing and pooping, sleeping and so on. It is really one of the great joys of expeditions that the complexities of daily life are reduced and one is able to put full concentration into things we often do without much thought.
(Often the language becomes a bit more spicy as you will find below. I've taken the liberty of adjusting a few of the spicier terms as we have some families following along!)
One also gets very excited about simple things that are hard to imagine back home. How many of us get really excited by the fact that our tea water boiled quicker today than yesterday?
Enjoy Brad's elemental notes below!
June 28th - Base Camp to Camp 1
A call of nature at 3:30am was an effective alarm clock and I used the half hour before our 4am breakfast to once again sort my gear to take to Camp 1. This was a carry load and this time I took up sleeping bag, mattresses (Z-Lite and Nemo Zor), stove and food for a couple of days.
Al and Matt, took off first at about 4:45 am and I departed 15 minutes later as I piss farted around with additional gear. Once again I found myself weaving through the glacier making a couple of “Jacksonvariation’s’ on the route as I played footprint detective trying to follow the route. Each time through the glacier is different as the glacier melts away in the summer sun and former landmarks become distorted and unrecognizable.
Briefly caught up with Al and Matt at "crampon point" but the fixed roped I was carrying to Camp 1 weighed me down and soon they were in the distance. I did though manage to get past the rock band with lips intact, playing it more careful this time on the verglas covered rock.
|crampon point © stu remensnyder|
‘Frederick from Sweden’ as he is found of saying, passed me by I and made a point of introducing myself. Next the four HAP’s passed by and I took some snaps as they trudged on up to Camp 1.
I got into Camp 1 at 10am, not a great time; I blamed that on the fixed rope I was carrying, or could just be I’m bloody slow. Matt and Al and the HAP’s had already established their respective tents and I was shunted into the ‘storage tent’ which was actually quite comfy as I padded the tent with the 7 packed tents and various other paraphernalia.
|FTA HAP Taqui Mohammed at C1 © brad jackson|
Once safely ensconced in tent it dawned on me the horror of what was I going to do for the next 21 hours. I for once was without electronic gadgetry having failed even to bring up my iPhone. So various packing and unpacking ensued and I got to play with my MSR Reactor for the first time. What a beast! I wasn’t prepared for the incredibly fast boiling time as I am normally used to waiting ‘ages’ for snow to melt and boil. I had 2 liters of water prepared in less than 10 minutes and my thoughts of an idle afternoon of melting snow was swiftly quashed as I had all the water I needed.
|MSR Reactor at C1 © brad jackson|
That afternoon was pretty sh**ty, with light wet snow covering the tent and every 5 minutes I had to kick the top of the tent to prevent heavy snow, collapsing the tent and blocking the light. Around 5pm though, the clouds dramatically broke, sunlight poured through the ripstop nylon and with head popped out of tent, we were treated with dramatic views of the Karakorum from Camp1.
I am guilty of instigating a mass photo shoot as Al and Matt plus our Swedish/Lithuanian brethren were summoned on my behalf to get the hell out of their tents and have a look at the amazing view. Ernie and Frederick for some fun climbed the pillar at the end of camp 1 and we had fun taking their pics. I also got roped into helping Frederick film footage for his sponsored products and hearing him speak in Swedish of course reminded me of watching the original “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo’
|Fredryk at C1 © brad jackson|
With the sun quickly tucked behind the mountains opposite, the temperature plummeted and we scurried back into our tents. After eating a dehydrated “Hash Brown’ meal for lunch which tasted like rubber with a slight aftertaste, I approached with trepidation the Mountain Hut ‘ Chicken Teriyaki with Rice’ but it wasn’t too bad with actual hints of chicken teriyaki flavor amongst the rubber taste.
June 29th - Carry to Camp 2 and drop back to base camp
Morning was cold and my water bottles had partially frozen over night. I had put off the discomfort and slight risk of sleeping with my water bottles but looks like will have to sleep with bottles from Camp 1 upwards.
We were in no rush to depart as we suspected that we would be waiting on the HAP’s to fix rope and our assumptions were justified. Matt carried some rope, I carried a 2-person tent and Al some snow stakes as we left Camp 1 bound for Camp 2.
|climbing to C2 © brad jackson|
The cold conditions meant the snow was crisp underfoot and while the going was steep, we easily moved amongst well-defined steps. Trying to figure out what to wear was difficult as it was a cold morning, so when moving we were fine but while waiting for the rope to be fixed we quickly became quite frigid.
In fairness though conditions were quite benign with light cloud and low winds. Looking up towards the summit though we could see a maelstrom of strong winds and swirling clouds. As the sun rises behind the summit, the sun ray’s diffract through the summit clouds to give a really unusual light display, somewhat of a cross between a borealis and a rainbow. I haven’t seen this phenomenon anywhere else.
|sun formations nearing C2 © brad jackson|
As the sun rose, the snow became mushy underfoot and our clearly defined steps of the early morning disappeared. The last hour in particular to camp 2 became particularly difficult as steps gave way and I imagined I was climbing the flutings of Siula Grande (?) in ‘Touching the Void’ (Of course I’m exaggerating)
Al, Matt and I didn’t spend long at camp 2. Matt, a 3rd time veteran to Camp 2 was surprised to see no tents pitched at camp 2 as in previous expeditions he had encountered 10- 15 tents. A product of the denial of visas to Americans and UK citizens and various international austerity measures we speculated.
After caching the fixed rope, tent and stakes, we turned to face downhill. Going downhill is basically a very long arm rap session with 2 raps thrown in for good measure. Any new jacket is quickly cauterized with the nylon rope coiling around the lower arm and I blew out the finger on my Hestra leather glove from the continuous friction.
Arriving at Camp 1 we could see Ben, Robbo, Grace, Hamza and Louis milling around the precarious Camp 1 platform. We asked, ‘where was Arnie?’ and as if hearing his voice, we saw Arnies’s yellow helmet peeking over the edge. Arnie had some GI issues earlier that morning but in testament to his strength and endurance waited another hour for ‘issues’ to settle before making his way to Camp 1.
Even though we had only been apart 1 night, was really good to see the rest of the team and we swapped some idle banter and asked each other how we were. We picked up some stuff that we needed back at base camp that we had left at Camp 1 like headlamps, the illustrious pee bottles and our rubbish and continued on our merry way to base camp.
Ben had commented that one can get off the mountain really quickly and his words proved correct as Matt, Al and I dropped the 1200 m from Camp 2 to crampon point in approximately 2 hours. Matt noticed that one of the pitons protecting the fixed rope above the rock had popped out and we did some Scottish/Australian jiggery on belting in the piton and equalizing the anchors. I watched the piton as Matt rapped of the rock band and I then followed with perhaps one of my most careful abseils, gingerly placing steps down the rocks.
By the time, we get to crampon point we were "knackered", "buggered" and "f**ked" in our respective parlance as the day’s activity finally took its toll. The 30-45 minute journey through the glacier took us an hour, as we had to find some alternate routes to cross the deep and rapid flowing ‘rivers’ now streaming through the glacier after a full day of sun. We finally got back to base camp at 15:30 hours, yes just an 8 hour day but we were collectively spent. Atta served us some wonderful noodle soup and a gargantuan amount of rice and noodles but we were more thirsty than hungry and simply drank up a storm with some token efforts at eating the rice and noodles.
Despite being spent, none of us slept that well and it seemed we spent the hours till dinner listening to music and generally just lying on our backs. I went into the tent to get a drink and saw 3 members of the French team having a drink. We introduced ourselves and had a collective moan about the snow conditions on the mountain. I suggested they come around in 2 days time and our respective teams put our heads together on how we will climb the mountain.
Chatted with Ben at the designated 6pm radio call and let him know of the loose piton and the perils of crossing the glacier mid afternoon. Al, Matt and I quickly wolfed down our dinner at 7pm and had an early night. We were all pleased with our day’s efforts and our fatigue from the days climb appeared to have dissipated. We are keen to start our next foray onto Broad Peak.