Sunday, August 24, 2008

FTA Team back at base camp

FTA Spantik 2008 recap

Everyone is safe and sound at Spantik base camp. We had an excellent walk down from camp 2 yesterday and despite not reaching the summit, we all feel we had a successful expedition.

Everyone is safe, we have all of our fingers & toes and we are all great friends. The whole team put in an excellent effort and if the weather would have been more stable, I have no doubt everyone would have reached the top.

Tomorrow morning we leave base camp for Skardu then on to Islamabad for our international flights. Ian and I are flying to Kathmandu for the next big adventure. Ian to Cho Oyu with Stu Remensnyder and myself to the Annapurna range with Sean James. Keep checking back for more updates resuming the 1st week of September.

Have fun, climb hard, come home!
Chris from Spantik base camp.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Safe at camp 2, back to base camp in the am

FTA Spantik 2008 Expedition Update:

Just a quick update.

It snowed 35cm last night at camp 3. The wind was blowing a gale and despite our desire to finish off this big climb, there was no way we could possibly go anywhere but down. We were the only ones left on the mountain and the descent today was epic for some.

Everyone is safe and sound at camp 2. We will move down base camp tomorrow morning and sadly, conclude the climbing portion of this expedition. Like I always say, the mountain will always be there.

Chris from Spantik camp 2

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another day in camp 3 6300m, too much snow!

FTA Spantik 2008 Update

We all arrived in camp 3 yesterday after a grueling climb up from camp 2. The early morning snow conditions were excellent but as the day progressed and the slopes steepend, hot temperatures made the climbing very taxing.

After our arrival at camp 3, Ian, Paul, Lukasz & Myself made the decision to wait a day before attempting the summit. There are about 30 climbers here right now and they all made an attempt for the summit at 3 am this morning. Among them was Michael and Taqui from the FTA team. The whole group turned back at 6600m in thick fog and deep snow.

It's snowing right now with zero visibility. If the sun comes out this afternoon and we get a good freeze this evening... And if the weather forecast is wrong we will make another attempt at 12 midnight.
All of the other expeditions have left camp 3 and are currently returning to base camp. It's just us at 6300m, 2 tents, 6 guys and 1/2 days food.

Stay tuned.
Chris from Spantik camp 3, 6300 m

Monday, August 18, 2008

Waiting in camp 2 5300m

Field Touring Alpine Spantik 2008

We've arrived at camp 2 and all is well. The weather has been very bad as of late and we are doing our best to stay positive and healthy. There is supposed to be a window of clear weather starting today, but alas, it's snowing like mad in the middle of August.

This morning Me, Taqui, Ian, Paul, Michael & Luksaz had a late start from camp 1 and headed up in great weather. The route was covered with about 15cm of fresh snow and I had the privilege of breaking trail up the wonderful ridge, jumping crevasses and kicking steps through amazing terrain. What a day at the office!

Yesterday we had to bid farewell to Dr Usman. His injured knee was just too much of a burden to him and he decided to leave the expedition. It was an emotional time as we all left him in base camp. The determination he showed getting to nearly camp 2 was an inspiration to us all. We already miss him
Tomorrow the team will rest at camp 2 and myself and Johnas from the Spanish group will finish fixing the route up to 6400m, just below camp 3. On the 20th, if the weather permits, we all move up and go for the summit the next day.

Chris from Spantik camp 2, 5300 meters.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We've moved to camp 1 5000m!

Field Touring Alpine Spantik 2008 Expedition Update

Everyone on the FTA team has moved up to camp one. The climb from base camp up to here is a moderate scramble of about 800 vertical meters through scree, shale, talus and a few steep rock sections. Nothing technical, just good fun in an amazing place.

We are surrounded by glaciers and 6-7000m peaks. I forgot how jaw dropping this place really is. We are all in awe, perched on this classic ridge that drops at least 1000m to the rivers of flowing ice below.

It's great to finally be climbing, and also finally away from the insomniac rooster that has been waking us up for the last 3 days. We figure someone brought him over here from America and his time zones are out or he is suffering from some avian altitude sickness. He crows at the strangest of times Poor guy...
Anyway, tomorrow the 14th we will climb up to camp 2 at about 5500m, drop some supplies, and return to camp 1 before making the move to camp 2 the following morning.

4 am, crampons on, roped up, we crunch off into mist up the snowy ridge. Living the dream.

Chris from Spantik camp 1

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Spantik 2008 Team Reaches Base Camp

Great news! The FTA 2008 Spantik team has all reached base camp at 4230M. Everyone is feeling great and we have already become great friends. We're having some very interesting conversations and heated debates on every imaginable topic.
Luksaz, Usman, Ian, Myself & Paul arrived yesterday, the 8th and Michael rocked up this morning (he trekked in a day behind us due to a little GI trouble). We are all healthy and preparations for the 7027M climb have begun.
Tomorrow we will do the usual gear checks, food sorting, packing and a little crevasse rescue training. The next day we plan to establish camp 1 at about 5150m and come back down to base that same day. After that, no one can say for sure. I promise to keep you posted though.
There are about 6 other expeditions on the mountain so tomorrow afternoon the expedition leaders will meet to discuss how to make the situation work for everyone. It's crowded at BC but it's a big hill.
Photo:7027M Spantik as seen on day 2 of 3 on the trek in.
Peace, love & happiness
Chris at Spantik BC

Friday, August 1, 2008

Gasherbrum 2 2008 Expedition Finished, Spantik 2008 Begins

As one adventure ends another begins. The entire team from Gasherbrum 2 2008 has departed Islamabad and now, the Spantik members are slowly arriving.

This afternoon I have an appointment at the Alpine Club of Pakistan to finalize permit details, drink tea and have yet another briefing for the wonderful Spantik, 7027 meters of Karakorum goodness.

I am really looking forward to climbing Spantik again. This time however, I have a slightly different plan for the mountain. Instead of using the usual lift line of fixed ropes, I am going to lead the team up the peak in true alpine style. This approach is a much better way for the members to get the feeling that they are actually climbing the mountain. Instead of fixing ropes on the steeper sections, we will climb together as a rope team using running belays and our own ice screws, pickets and anchors to scale this excellent route from the ground up.

The plan is to establish camp one and descend to base camp for rest and to load up for our big push up the hill. I suppose some may not consider this alpine style in the truest sense, perhaps maybe more of a capsule style but from camp one we will carry all of our equipment, food and fuel up to camp three where our summit push will begin.

Being the Karakorum, the weather might have a different plan for us but enshallah (if Allah permits) we will climb the peak from top to bottom without the use of any fixed lines or previously stocked camps.

Wish us luck! We depart Islamabad for Skardu on August 3rd and begin the approach to the mountain the day after that.

Photo: Gasherbrum 2 2008 team enjoying a feast at our good friend and High Altitude Porter Taqui Mohammed’s home in hushe before the drive to Skardu.

Cheers from Islamabad