Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26 - K2 Summit Bid under way! Summit Bid tonight?

From stu in the usa office
July 26, 2010

This is an exciting time on K2 with our lead members pushing to C4, a second group acclimatizing at C2 and the route nearly set for the a second push in the week ahead! Stay tuned over the next 24 hours as Fabrizio will be trying for the summit!

We’ll have updates here as well as on twitter -

Summit Bid Update – 26th July

Chris has left a most recent audio dispatches (see bottom) at Gabcast and updates us on the plans for the summit bids for the 27th and the 29th. At this time Fabrizio has pushed our route and gear up to C3 and working the route to the shoulder today.

Fabrizio will hope to have the route set on the 27th for any subsequent attempts by our team. He is working the route in cooperation with Gerlinde, Ralf and Kinga on this run up the hill. A few of the Polish climbers and Fredrik and Trey are also moving from C3 to C4 today on the Cesen . Good company indeed!

It is amazing to think that the Shoulder camp was camp XIII for the ill-fated 1939 American expedition led by Fritz Weissner. At least twice as many tents, more rope food and fuel, all were carried and stockpiled onto the route (Abruzzi) on their push up the hill. In Viesturs’ book he notes that Weissner ended spending 24 straight days at or above 21,500ft , something astounding and unthinkable to do voluntarily today. He and his summit bid partner Pasang Lama, spent quite a few nights at C4 or above while today we might consider just 2-3 nights at or above the shoulder more than enough!

For the 27th the summit wind look to be between 10-30km/hr and generally decreasing to midday and on the rise reaching back to over 60km/hr by the end of the 28th. It will be important for Fabrizio and the others to be back in C4 on the 27th and down to C2 or lower by end of the 28th as the winds will be too severe in the higher camps.

View from C4 on the Cesen © Fabrice Imparato

Second Summit Group – Delayed by weather!

Chris and the second wave are running into increasingly poor weather reports for wind and snow on the 28/29/30 and have decided to wait for the next window for any true summit bid. Meagan and Garth have gone up today to spend the night in C2 and take advantage of this good window to enjoy some time on the route.

Expected winds on the 29th have changed from 10-20km/hr to now perhaps as much as 30-50 km/hr and worse on the 30th and 31st – as high as 60-80km/hr. The challenge of climbing technical terrain in these high winds and having very little margin for any delays on descent makes the margin of safety simply too small for the moment.

Nearly always one must either begin or finish in bad weather on a K2 push but ending in bad weather accompanied by high winds is simply not an option.
The winds have been very serious on K2 over the last few days and at many teams on the Abruzzi arrived recently to find their tents destroyed by the winds – sadly a trip ender for at least one team. It appears that none of the Abruzzi teams will be making it to the shoulder in time for this window so a Cesen only summit is ahead on the 27th!

Our team tents are still in good shape lower on the hill so this is good news and bodes well for our second team still having gear for them when they go up in a week.

We tend not to report much on other teams but you can visit and for updates on many of the teams on the hill.

Next Window?

The next window looks possibly to be around the 5-7 of August and at this time the group is well set for a second attempt. Farhad and Aziz made a major effort to bring O2 and gear up to C3 on the 25th and today Taqui, Ghulam and Asgar have taken loads to C2 to support any future bids. So our route is well stocked in both C2 and C3 for any urgent needs by the descending summit bid team.

C1 at 5950m on the Cesen © Fabrice Imparato

One of the great tragedies in 1939 was miscommunication which led to the stripping of the mountain of crucial supplies for the descending team. With today’s lightweight radios, our BC and climbers are able to constantly coordinate movemnt of people and resources. They have the additional ability to call out to the home office or to our agents for anything they need, including calls for helicopters evacs, fresh supplies, changes to the porter schedules and more.

In 2003 we took advantage of this ability to order in 2 cases of beer to be sent in by porter. We spent many days on the hill dreaming of tasting the cold rich brew, which was to take 10 days after ordering to arrive. When the laden porters arrived we prepared ourselves for an indulgent day at BC. The cold cans were spread out and cracked open. They tasted great and we felt ourselves relaxing already! Then, as we examined the cans we noticed some small print on the cans that shook our souls to the core….”non-alcoholic malt beverage”. Yikes! One makes due with all manner of hardships on an expedition and this turn of events we simply took in stride. Using all our powers of denial of reality we allowed the placebo effect to take hold. We enjoyed a faux-buzz as much as any normal two-four of Molson would have done for us back home!

Audio dispatch from Chris at K2 BC on the 25th 2010
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Audio Dispatch from Chris at K2 BC on 26th July, 2010
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On A Side Note

Watched “180° South – Conquerors of the Useless” last night and highly recommend it for anyone with the least bit of wanderlust! The filmer, Jeff Johnson, retraces the journey Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins took from the states to Patagonia in 1968. It is full of wonderful footage and thought provoking quotes and delightfully stitched together. In the movie there are lengthy interviews with Chouinard and Tomkins in their huts in Patagonia and these scenes alone are worth the price of admission. Here is one that certainly will inspire conversation around the climbers table!

“Taking a trip for six months, if you get in the rhythm of it, it feels like you could just go on forever doing that. Climbing Everest is the ultimate and the opposite of that, because you get all these high-powered plastic surgeons and CEOs, and you know, they pay $80,000 and have sherpas put all the ladders in place, and 8,000 feet of fixed ropes. You get to a camp and you don’t even have to lay out your sleeping bag, and it’s already laid out with a little chocolate mint on the top. The whole purpose of climbing Everest is to effect some sort of spiritual and physical gain; but if you compromise the process, [then] you’re an asshole when you start out and you’re an asshole when you get back.”
–Yvon Chouinard, 180˚ South

Parting Quote

“The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you didn't even think to ask.”
Jeff Johnson

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