Friday, July 16, 2010

Broad Peak July 16: summit bid begins in 9 hours!

From stu in the usa office
July 16, 2010

Fabrizio checked in a little after 5pm local time at C3 (7100m) on Broad Peak to let us know that everyone is doing well and the summit bid will get under way in just 9 hours!

At this time we have Ben, Meagan and Taqui in a Marmot Thor 3-man tent in C4 at 7300m, Fabrizio, Brian, Chris, Jo and Mike Nixon in Thor 3’s in C3. All of these members are feeling strong still and will be making for the summit between 2 and 3 am. During the day today Rob, Ghulam and Asgar all had challenges with keeping their feet warm and have wisely decided to descend to BC. Brian seems to have recovered sufficiently from his GI troubles and is ready to give it a go. Jo seems to have run into a little GI trouble himself so we’ll hope he manages to shake it and at 2am he can be off for the top. Both Mike and Jo are sleeping on O2 and will be climbing with it during the day so they should have the warmest toes on the hill!

[caption id="attachment_2322" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="C3 in 2003 on a warm afternoon! © stu remensnyder"][/caption]

It can be bitter cold on Broad Peak and the members this morning will likely be looking at temperatures of -20°C / -4°F or lower. Combined with the scarcity of oxygen this temperature, which might be no trouble for cross-country skiers in New England on a crisp morning, can be very dangerous for slow moving climbers at 25,000ft. All members will be vigilant to have warm toes and fingers all the time and should turn about if they are unable to keep sensation. By turning about and moving more quickly downhill it can be just a matter of minutes before you warm right back up and make better plans for the next time up (drier socks, warmer boots, better food and hydration etc.)

[caption id="attachment_2323" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="View to K2 from C3 in 2003 © stu remensnyder"][/caption]

In 2003 we had a pair of Spanish climbers who had been on Everest who said it was much colder on Broad Peak - they had to turn about on two successive summit bid with cold feet. One of the challenges on Broad Peak is that the sun does not hit the slopes til well into the morning. So climbers are looking over at the slopes of K2 drenched in sun while shivering in the shade on Broad Peak. They will be looking forward to reaching the summit ridge and the warm rays there! Oddly enough on my last bid the problem was overheating as the temperature on the summit ridge was as high as 53°F (hence the baseball cap at 7900m in the last dispatch!).

[caption id="attachment_2324" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="Summit ridge from the col © stu remensnyder"][/caption]

To reach the summit ridge they will have to force their way through sugar snow which according to Ben began approximately 100m above C3. This snow impeded their progress significantly and so rather than waste too much energy they pitched C4 about half as far as they had hoped. In the morning they will join the wave from C3 which will include lots of fresher legs. The plan is to share the snow plowing to the col in the same manner a peleton rotates the lead riders to break the wind. The slope below the col will be very difficult if it is sugary snow and will take some careful climbing. In good conditions it is quite straight forward (perhaps 50°) but can also be quite rocky later in the season. Along the ridge there are numerous enjoyable steps of rock and snow and the views down to both sides is extraordinary. While the side towards base camp is steep, to the Chinese side it drops off nearly vertically and provides a dramatic view! They will also have great views of the sunrise on K2 and that alone is worth the price of admission!

[caption id="attachment_2325" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="sunrise on K2 from 7500m on Broad Peak © stu remensnyder"][/caption]

Ed and Garth are in C2 and will assist in breaking down the C3 camp tomorrow. Luis, Katrina, Lhakpa and Tshering have cleared their gear from the hill and will be resting up for the K2 climb ahead. There appears to be a good weather window around the 26th July so perhaps we’ll have more summit bid reports coming up again quite soon!

Fabrizio has left a dispatch from C3 at 7100m and you can listen in below!

Field Touring Alpine Audio Dispatches

Fabrizio mentions a few other teams that are on the same summit wave (including Slovaks, Catalans, Mike Horn and Kobi) and one of the other teams has a great pic of the route

I came across a quote yesterday, by the Bohemian-Austrian Poet Rainer Maria Rilke, which seems to touch on much of what is coming to pass and will come to pass in the days ahead:

“Let life happen to you. Life is always in the right.”

So members are letting life happen to them and if toes are warm and energy is good they will continue on to the top. If toes get chilly and their energy wanes they will accept this too and head back down satisfied with a great adventure in the Karakoram.

[caption id="attachment_2326" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="K2 from Broad Peak BC © stu remensnyder"][/caption]

more news as we have it!


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