Monday, August 20, 2012

FTA Spantik - Summits!

Spantik update - Summits!

Brad called in from the top to let us know that he and Grace ached to summit after 11hours of very hard work in cold conditions. Avi had gone very well to reach a personal high point at 6600m before turning back to be sure he had enough good energy to reach camp safely. All three said it was the most demanding deep snow climbing they had done and was hip deep the whole way. They were treated to great views the whole day but accompanied by a stiff wind that made it difficult to stay warm and required numerous stops to warm up chilly toes.

About three hours later Brad called back again to let us know that all three of them had returned safely back to the enough camp and were looking forward to a good sleep and huge breakfast. They will take the next two days to descend and clean the hill of tents and personal gear and enjoy a good rest day before heading back it to Skardu.

Images and full story details coming soon when Brad has a few minutes and warmer fingers!

Upcoming trips 

With the conclusion of the Spantik trip we will turn our attention to the upcoming trips to. Stok Kangri in September, Khumbu Peaks and Passes in October, and Everest base camp, Island Peak and Ama Dablam trips in November. We have limited spaces on all of the trips so contact us if you fancy a great trip under the leadership of Chris and Samira Szymiec!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

FTA Spantik 2012 - Summit Push Under Way!

Camp three on 7027m Spantik
Our team is in camp 2 and ready to make a summit bid in a few days if they can make their way through the deep snow which they have been encountering on the hill. Brad, Grace and Avi will hope to move up to camp three tomorrow, where they have already deposited a tent and some supplies, and assess the conditions. It may be that they need to spend one day pushing the route part way to the top and wanding it so they can get an early start on the 19th or 20th. The weather looks to be mostly clear and calm over the next 4-5 days so that is good news.

Noel is resting at base camp after having his knees act up on him and he is using the days to enjoy some short ambles and read a few good books with the phenomenal backdrop of the nearby mountains and glaciers.

Brad will plan to call in each day on the push so stay tuned!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

FTA Spantik 2012 - C1 established!

FTA Spantik 2012 Update
Brad called in this morning to let us know that all is well at Spantik and that they are on their first round of acclimitizations with plans to ascend to camp 1 today and then move up to camp 2 for 2 nights before returning to base camp. After that they will look for the good weather window and a summit attempt!
Avi and Grace enjoying the fine day high on Spantik © brad jackson

Upcoming trips - confirmed with spaces!

We are in full swing here in the FTA office with Spantik well under way and already making preparations for our confirmed trips to Stok Kangri in Sept, Khumbu Peaks and Passes in Oct and Ama Dablam, Island Peak & Everest BC in November. We do have limited spaces remaining on these trips so let us know if you want to join us for a fun trek, moderate climb or demanding ascent!

As well we have already begun to accept applications for our trip to Ecuador and Argentina in Nov, Jan & Feb as well as Broad Peak, G2, Spantik and K2 bc for 2013. Check out the full array of trips on our main site: or email at "" us for a custom adventure!

Brad's Blog from Spantik
We'll expect a full report and pics when they are back down and in the meantime Brad has sent a few notes and pics from the first days at base camp...enjoy!

FTA Spantik 2012 team at C1: Brad, Grace, Avi and Noel

August 8th – Rest day at base camp
Chatted with Andy and Clare from another team. Continues to sort out tents and group gear. Played iPad monopoly. Avi and Noel almost completely recovered from some lingering ailments.

Looking down to the Shogolung Glacier from C1. Note the base camp tents at the lower left of the image - nice spot! © brad jackson

August 9th – Carry to Camp 1
Antoine form the French team was going up to camp 1 today to retrieve his tents, so we decided to tag along and take up some tents and gear. Andy, an English geologist from a previous FTA expedition also decided to tag along. Breakfast was at 8am and we decided to depart at 10am.

The climb to Camp 1 is a meandering scramble up an interesting rock face along several ridgelines. It was fun without being too exposed and was diverse in terrain preventing any kind of monotony. We really lucked out with the weather and had high cloud that prevented the day from getting too warm but also meant that I just wore a Patagonia sun shirt for the day. Grace and Andy set the lead with 1:45 minutes to Camp 1 and Avi and I followed at 2:15 minutes. Grace and I managed to get up 4 tents, 2 stoves, a rope and some food to Camp 1 and we set Avi and Noel the task of setting up 2 tents for a bit of practice if they needed to set up tents themselves later.

Shogolung Glacier from C1 © Brad Jackson

It really was a wonderful day climbing in perfect weather conditions. At Camp 1, we had great views of most of the Spantik ridgeline and could see in the distance several members of the Dutch team making their way to Camp 3. The Shogolung glacier meandered beneath us and 22-degree rainbow halos ringed the sun.

Spantik's 8km ridge from C1 © brad jackson

After 2 hours of setting up tents and general chatting, we made our way down. We helped Antoine carry some of their group gear down. The descent was fun and fast. Steep enough to get a good pace but not steep enough to risk serious injury. I luxuriated in for once having a light pack as I was only carrying a tent and sped down the second half of the mountain after having traversed the ridges.

Avi, Grace and Noel descending from C1 © brad jackson

Arriving back at base camp, we were greeted with grape tang and then we bundled ourselves into the dining tent for soup, samosas and another round of delicious Pakistani mangoes. A quick nana nap in the afternoon and then dinner at 8pm. Overall, a superb day.

Noel enjoying a rest at C1 © brad jackson

Thursday, August 9, 2012

FTA Spantik 2012 Under Way!

FTA Spantik 2012

Noel nearing Spantik base camp © Brad Jackson
With our Broad Peak expedition concluded after a great effort we turn our efforts to 7027 Spantik under the leadership of Brad Jackson.  Brad is joined by Grace from our Broad Peak team, Noel who is an alum from Ama Dablam and a new member Avi. All in all looks to be a nice group and we hope they have a good spell of weather in the weeks ahead!

Brad and his group are at base camp and beginning the expedition in earnest today with technical skills review and more. Over the days ahead they will push some gear onto the hill and begin the acclimatization process.

Brad has sent in the following update to catch you all up on the expedition and we will have updates every 2-3 days through to the end of the month.
Aug 3 - Team unites
Avi and Noel arrived in Skardu today by catching one of the  supposed mythical flights from Islamabad. Grace and I seethed with jealousy. After settling in, we walked the mean streets of Skardu, checking out some rental gear we need for Spantik and I making my obligatory daily ice cream stop at a store named ‘Alaska’. Also as a pleasant surprise, we nervously put our ATM cards in a machine that looked like it may dispense cash and viola, it actually worked and Pakistani rupees flowed forth.
Tomorrow we shall sort out the rest of the gear and prepare for our departure to Arandu on the 4th August.

August 4th – Skardu to Arando
We were promised a leisurely 6 hour drive to Arando but circumstances conspired to the extent that although we left at 8am , I didn’t reach camp site to 8pm that evening.

The day started innocently enough. Our favorite jeep ‘ Oh my Cod’ arrived on time and we piled in with, Grace and Avi squashed in the front and Fida (our escort for the trip) Noel and myself in the back. We passed the police checkpoint on the outskirts of Skardu without incident and made our merry way to Shigar. This time we stopped off at Shigar Fort and took a brief tour of the 460 year old building and surroundings.
Noel, Avi and Grace in the Fort’s doorway © brad jackson

The journey continued and we started to cross the numerous wooden cantilever bridges that connect the villages of Baltistan. After several hours we came across what seemed like a migrating sand dune crossing the road and both our jeeps promptly became bogged.

Much to-ing and fro-ing ensued as the jeeps managed to reverse and took big run ups to get momentum across the sand. At one stage, I thought we would have to deflate the tyres to get additional grip but after about the 5th attempt, our fearless driver got us across. Prior crossing, Avi had got out of the jeep, to take a video of the attempt. To our complete hysterics, he started chasing after the jeep after we crossed the sandy area thinking we were leaving him behind.

At the next village, we had a bit of incident as some very exuberant potential porters wished to clamber on our jeep and sat upon our duffle bags. I was requested by Deedar to have a bit of a word to these guys, to get them of the jeep. I walked up to the crowd of porters and shouted at the top of my voice ‘Get Down Now’ and to my and everyone’s surprise they complied and got off the jeep.

Brad and Noel in an impromptu cricket match

The road become more treacherous and we were reminded of the later part of the journey to Askole. At one village, we had to temporarily repair the bridge with logs and rocks to cross but at the village of Doko the bridge had warped to be impassable. Our jeeps were stranded on one side of the bridge and we had to manually ferry our gear across the bridge and wait for other transportation on the other side. Our delay in journey was the Doko children cricket team’s gain. As we waited for a jeep, on hearing Noel’s and my nationality, a home made bat and ball was produced and we played some cricket against the locals. Even Grace had a go, doing her best for Canada and we forgave her for referring to bowling as pitching.
Grace showing Canada's best chance for gold in 2016 ;-)

After cricket we were invited to what I believe was the village chief’s house and sat in a room and was served tea and biscuits. The wait for transport dragged on and we all attempted to snooze in the room. This though was difficult, as it seemed every villager under 15 opened the door into the room to have a peek and then slammed it shut. This happened easily over 100 times.

After several hours, a lone jeep appeared, and it soon became apparent that we could not all fit in the jeep without causing severe some DVT’s. I volunteered to stay behind, and Grace, Noel, Avi, Deedar and Fida went forth to Arando. I returned to the Village Head’s room. In the absence of anything better to do, I fired up my MacBook Air and watched “John Carter’. Me and half the village of course. By 6:30pm, the lone jeep returned. Pretty good timing really as I started to watch an episode of ‘Archer’ and I was having an internal ethical quandary wondering if I should allow these village kids to watch. Just watch any episode of ‘Archer’ and you will understand what I mean.

I bundled myself into the jeep and we made our way to Arando. Some nervous moments as night fell and I wondered why the driver insisted on not using headlights. Perhaps the cliffs and overhangs looked less menacing in the absence of light. Then at what seemed to be like some pre-determined time, the headlights come on along with some ear–splitting screeching Pakistani music and I arrived at camp at 8pm, lucky not to be in a homicidal rage.

Noel, Avi and Grace had just started dinner and I gratefully returned to my team. Went to bed early, knowing the next day, we would have all the porters arrive to take our gear on the 3 day trek to Spantik base camp.

August 5th and 6th – Arando to Munpakora to Balocho (by Grace MacDonald).

After a night of rain we got a very early wake up from the dozens of porters who amassed directly outside our tents to begin discussions about the loads they were to begin carrying that day. I had been hoping for a bit more sleep and contemplated sticking my head out of the tent and telling them to SHUT UP but I decided since we would be spending the next few days with this crew it was best to just get up and start getting things ready.

Porters are always up early and eager to get going to you’re lucky to even get your self out of the tent before they start dismantling it. After a quick breakfast and camp tear down me, Avi and Noel started off on the trail through Arando to Munpakora while Brad stayed behind to deal with weighing the porter loads. We took a quick break in Arando waiting for porters to make sure we took the right trail. The friendly local villagers and kids came out to surround us and run away every time we tried to snap a photo but we’d developed some stealth photo techniques and tricked them into the odd photo.

It was a great day for walking, sunny with some nice cloud cover and the trail was fairly gentle. We eventually came to a small treed area where the portersstopped for a lunch break. We sat and chatted with them for a bit and metanother couple that was heading to Spantik. Always eager to keep moving, meand Avi headed out for the final push to our home for a night – a nice open fieldcalled Munpakora with a good water supply and flat camping spots. Our tents arrived at the same time so we set them up, this time far from where the porters would be in the morning, Brad and Noel came in about an hour later and after a simple lunch we all rested for the afternoon. Noel was suffering from a bit of a stomach bug and by the evening Brad seemed to have caught the same bug.

We decided to segregate them in one tent for the night so I moved in with Avi and we prayed we both wouldn’t wake up with the same bug in the morning. It rained again during the night so it was another wet camp teardown but the good news is Noel seemed to be on the mend and me and Avi were still healthy. Brad was slightly improved but still on the mend. So another quick breakfast and we headed out to our next stop – Balocho.

We were told this would take 5 to 7 hours and this was one of the more challenging days with lots of up and down trails. Avi took it a bit slower today as he wasn’t acclimatized and we didn’t want him ruining himself running ahead with me. There was less sun this day and more cloud and the plan was to stop for lunch along the way but when I reached the lunch spot it got chilly and despite my hunger I decided to inhale a sport gel and carry on with the porters. Avi ended up doing the same a short way behind me but the rest of the team got the rain during their lunch stop. Luckily I was only 10 minutes out of Balocho and while we had no tents, the porters took me in to one of their shelters and plied me with Balti tea and chapatis – and I was very happy to accept food water and shelter as we waited for the rain to pass. As our tents arrived I tried to find spots away from the porter huts and got them set up.

Avi arrived midway during that process, sat on a rock, watched me and inhaled a box of cookies. He did save one cookie for me! In fairness I was so hungry I would have been reluctant to share a box of cookies too. We laughed as he shared his story of somehow getting lost on the trail and having porter laugh at him as he tried to get back on the trail (eventually one of them went to help, but they tend to like to get in a laugh first). I also had a bit of help from a porter just outside camp when a took a step just a bit too long for my leg and found my self rolling and sliding down a steep slope towards the glacier. The porter who was in front of me quickly ran back (fast despite being fully loaded) and pulled me back up. These easy approach days never seem to be without the odd challenging moments. Brad and Noel strolled in a bit later and Noel seemed to be almost fully recovered but Brad was still dealing with the evil stomach bug so we continued with the tent quarantine for one more night. Me and Avi thought we had gotten off lucky.

Speaking of lucky - after the rain the sun came out and we really got to appreciate our beautiful surroundings. Across the glacier we would cross tomorrow we could see Laila Peak (Haramosh Valley), Malbuting and, our goal, Spantik. There was a beautiful sunset that night and a couple of us spent that time sipping coffee and watching the sun go down behind the mountains.

After a nice dinner with a great view, we settled in for another night of sleep, our last before heading over to base camp.

August 7th – Balacho to Spantik Base Camp
I woke up feeling better. Finally. I really had been offended at myself for getting sick in the first place. Not impressed. Grace had asked around told us it was a 3 hour journey to base camp and to this day cannot understand why we believed it would be a 3 hour journey to base camp.

Most of the trek was over glacier and admittedly the first 4 hours was benign glacial terrain. The last 2 hours, the glacier became heavily crevassed and the route became much more convoluted. Spantik base camp is perched on a ridge descending from the mountain and can be seen several hours before arrival and thus rally seems ot extend the time it takes to reach there. Unfortunately Avi, was not feeling very well on this leg of the trip, having developing symptoms of the stomach bug that had afflicted Noel and I the previous days. Personally, I find one of the uplifting aspects of travelling in the remote regions of the world, is seeing certain people’s resolve and dignity under difficult circumstances. Avi showed this with his tenacity in making base camp, as had Noel in making camp 2 days prior.

Avi working his way along the glacier to base camp

We made base camp in around 6 hours and Deedar and crew immediately went to task to make our new home. 2 porters from another team immediately set upon me asking for money and material for the fixed rope and in hindsight I should have waited before agreeing on terms.

We are sharing base camp with French, Basque, Dutch and New Zealand teams but at this point, it is just the Dutch and ourselves climbing as the other teams have finished their attempts on the mountain.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

FTA Broad Peak 2012 - Summit Bid recap

Our team has had a few days to recover from the tremendous effort of putting on a summit bid in demanding conditions on an 8000m peak. The altitude, cold and snow fall combined with wind to make it a rather Scottish "full-on" attempt and through great work as a team and good decision making they have returned safe and sound to base camp.

It is now clear that the conditions will not make it possible for a second bid in the near future so the Broad Peak team will begin to head back to Skardu by way of Gondogro La and Hushe while Matt and Al will recalibrate for an attempt on K2 in the next two weeks.

FTA Broad Peak 2012 team in BC © brad jackson

Spantik up Next
After reaching Skardu Brad will then take over the leadership of our Spantik trip to begin on August 1 and at least one of our Broad Peak members will join him.  This will be our 5th trip to Spantik in the last 7 years and we'll hope that Brad and his team are able to repeat the great success which we had last year on Spantik!

High Camp on Spantik © Chris Szymiec
Autumn Nepal/India and Winter Ecuador & Argentina line-up
Ben will be take a few weeks or well earned rest and then head off to lead a trip to Kilimanjaro. Ben  will be be leading trips to Aconcagua starting in December and ending in February while Chris & Samira Szymiec will be leading our confirmed autumn lineup of Khumbu Peaks & Passes, Ama Dablam & Island Peak climbs and Everest BC treks.  As well we have a confirmed trip with spaces to Stok Kangri and Kang Yatse for September.

 In the months ahead we have Cotopaxi, Tharpu Chuli and much more ahead so email us at "" for more info or check out the trips at the main site
Ama Dablam base camp © stu remensnyder

2013 Pakistan: Broad Peak, Gasherbrums, K2, Spantik, Snow Lake trek and  K2 BC trek
We are already taking applications for next summer and hop you can join us for our 11th straight season on the 8000m peaks of the Karakoram and 10th anniversary of our first 8000m summit!

Broad Peak summit ridge © stu remensnyder

Brad's Journal - Summit bid part 2
Once again Brad has all the details of the events on and off the mountain and hope you enjoy catching up!

Brad at C3 on Broad Peak
July 20th – Part 1 - Ernestas’s story
Ernestas from Lithuania was camped by himself at 7,300 m (Camp 3.5) on the morning of the 20th when avalanche struck at 4:50 am. Ernestas had woken up 10 minutes prior to the avalanche and started preparing his gear. The avalanche thrust Ernestas, still in his sleeping bag and inside this tent 150 m vertical down the hill. As the avalanche pushed him down hill, the tent opened and all his gear fell out and snow filled his tent. By extremely good fortune, the snow filling the tent actually helped stop his slide down the hill and Ernestas stopped 5m before a 20m serac. A further 5 m slide would have undoubtedly led to the death of Ernestas.

Once stopped, miraculously with no poles of his tent broken, visibility was poor with snow and fog. Ernestas got out of the sleeping bag and started checking for all his gear. He only found one boot, 10 m above the final position of his tent plus some additional gear. Ernestas’s right la Sportiva Olympus Mons boot was missing and his portable radio was completely flat.

Ernestas looked for his boot for 5 hours but to no avail. The decision had to made to descend as his right foot was freezing up. His trekking pole and ice axe, he left behind and he started to descend. The descent was made with one lboot and crampon on his left foot and just the inner boot on his right. At around 10:30 Ernestas met the Iranians at camp 3 and they gave him 2 cups of tea but they had no radio. The Iranians wanted to ascend the mountain the next day so stayed in the tent.

The descent continued, now with some additional gear that he had left at camp 3, a light axe, ski pole and incredibly a load of rubbish. On the way to camp 2, Ernestas met porters from the Chinese team. These guys had a radio and Ernestas was finally able to contact his camp. He asked for an extra boot
and crampon. They asked how the condition of his right foot was and incredibly, his toes had not yet frozen. Descent continued to camp 2 and unfortunately no one was at camp 2 (He must have just missed the departure of our group) Ernestas then encountered the Chinese team. They offered
Ernestas to stay with them at Camp 2 but he wanted to continue the descent. At camp 1, Ernestas met Arnie from our team and Ernestas offered to descend with Arnie but at that time Arnie wished to stay at camp 1 to melt water.

At 5,300 m Ernestas met Jordie, a Catalan with ATP who had carried up an extra La Sportiva boot up the mountain after being contacted by the Chinese radio. The boot was size 47 as opposed to Ernestas’s size 44 but beggars couldn’t be choosers. Jordie also gave Ernestas tea and an Energy gel. At that time, Farhat, a porter with the Catalan team, carried Ernestas’s backpack the rest of the way downhill.

At 6pm, Ernestas finally made base camp, an epic journey 90% of the way down the mountain with one boot and no frostbite. An incredibly lucky escape. Ernestas is of course now preparing to move camps and attempt K2.

July 20th – Part 2: FTA team descends
Oblivious to what Ernestas was undergoing, we woke up at camp 3, our aspirations to summit completely quashed by the continued snowfall. We prepared to strip the mountain and descend. To save room, Ben and I wore our down-suits so we had additional room to store tents and gear in our
Cilogear backpacks.
Grace and Robbo at C1 © brad jackson

Al, Sayed and Aziz stripped their camp and made their way down. The rest of us waited till the sun had partially poked its way through the clouds and snow and stripped down the 3 x 3 person tents. Being in down suits, meant that my hands were slightly less susceptible to the cold and was able to help dismantle the tents in 5-minute intervals till I had to stop and rewarm my hands through vigorous shaking and rubbing. Louis was ready first and headed down the hill and Darren and Grace helped dismantle the second of the 3 person tents. Arnie helped Taqui and Mahadi with the TNF VE-25.

I think it was around 9pm when we finally began our descent. The snow had settled in and visibility was very poor. I believe Al had to sit on the slope at various intervals till he could see the waypoint at the bottom of camp 3 and the rest of us were lucky that we had 50 m visibility to see the path of descent.

Our beards, moustaches and goggles iced over as the snow stuck to our clothes and packs. The continued snowfall also meant that we were often post holing. This meant our bodies would stop in the snow as we fall to our knees and thighs but the inertia of our packs kept going forward.

About an hour from camp 3 on the descent, I rapped of a steep snow slope and due to the heavy snowfall, ‘slurpeed’ side on into a crevasse. I managed to get myself in an incredibly awkward position as the tail end of the rope clipped through a wire gate biner hanging on the gear loop on my harness. I ended up lying sideways with my legs in the crevasse but my backpack pulling me down the other side. It took me over a half an hour to extract myself from the crevasse using my jumar, shoveling and the limit of my abdominal muscles. I could see Ben and Taqui occasionally through the snow and mist but they couldn’t really help. Ben later told me that he told Taqui that it looked like FTA lost an assistant and as such there would be more food available at base camp later that afternoon.

Down the other side of the slope, the heavy snowfall continued and I pausedto rest to get a ‘Bumper Bar’ and water into me. The snow then kind of consolidated and I caught up to Arnie just above Camp 2. Robbo and Grace were at camp 2 and very gratefully they packed up a tent and additional gear to take down the hill. Ben and I used every available strap on our Cilogear packs to strap as much as possible to our packs. Thank god, the weather remained overcast at this stage as we were obviously still in down suits and would have died if the sun came out.

The descent to camp 1 was not too draining and we had a further rest stop at Camp 1. On the way we saw the Chinese team and I asked why they were ascending when there had been so much snow. They were committed, so wished them luck and safe passage. Ben, Darren, Grace and I had a collective pause at camp 1 and psyched ourselves for the last descent from Camp 1 to Base camp. Due to the incredible danger of rock fall, we left in stages. Robbo first, Grace second, me in third and Ben bringing up the rear. Arnie was at a different pace to the rest of us and we accepted that he would be coming several hours later.

With big packs and massive crampon balling, arm rapping was less of an option and we all turned around more to rappel. I caught up with Grace at a rock band after some momentary confusion as to why she had stopped. A piton had fallen out and Grace was rightfully concerned about rapping from
the remaining anchor. I made a temporary ice axe belay and watched in alarm as the fixed rope sawed back and forth across sharp rock as she descended.

Ben then caught up with me and grabbed the hammer of my pack and hammered in the loose piton. Despite my previous alarm, all I wanted to do was get down the mountain and I rapped down as fast as possible. The rest of the way to crampon point, was a bit of a daze as the weight of my pack pressed further into my shoulders and my legs became heavier and heavier.

At crampon point, the Catalan team and porters were waiting and this was the first I heard of Ernestas’s epic journey from Camp 3.5. I waited for Ben to drop down and we dumped the group gear (tents etc) into waiting duffle bags. The crossing of the glacier was the last straw and we easily decided that the FTA porters could come across in a couple of days to pick up the tents. We had
dome enough.

The glacier crossing was long and arduous. Ben and I had both run out of water at this stage and had no hesitation in filling up our water bottles from the glacier streams sans any filtration. Once again, I was soo thankful that the weather was overcast, so while I was very hot in my down suit, I wasn’t dying.

I guess I got to base camp around 5pm, a very long and epic day. I immediately stripped out of my down suit, changed into lighter gear and made my way into the dining tent. I immediately sucked down 10 cups of Tang and water followed by soup. I was very glad to be ‘home’.

We saw Ernestas at 6pm and he informed us that Arnie was staying at camp 1. At 9pm, listening to music, I heard Arnie come into camp. Everyone was back at base camp and now all that lay ahead of us was resting, packing and preparing for the trek back to Skardu.
FTA team displaying post high altitude summit bid syndrome symptoms

Sunday, July 22, 2012

FTA Broad Peak 2012 - First Summit Bid Over

 Our team is back in base camp after a good effort to make for the summit of Broad Peak. They did everything they could over the last 5 weeks to be in position for a possible summit bid and it was simply not to be. Numerous team have tried for the summit over the last few weeks and none have succeeded in reaching even the col at 7850 this year.

Ben, Brad and crew moved up to be in position for the potential window we saw for the 19-21 of July which represented the main teams last realistic chance and they were met with too much snowfall to continue. They held on a day in C3 with hopes the weather might turn and were met with more snow which cemented the decision to descend.
Arni climbing above C2 on the summit push

Matt and Al still have K2 ahead of them and a few others may yet decide to try for Broad Peak again in the next few days bit for the majority of the crew they will have to content themselves with having reached to just over 7000m on the 12th highest peak on the planet and returned safely.

Below you can read Brad Jackson's daily journal for the 17th - 19th with the 20th & 21st tom come tomorrow.

July 17th - Summit Push

The summit push is on. Matt, Grace and Arnie, got up in the first wave for a 2am breakfast. Ben, Louis, Hamza and myself sleep in a bit and hit the dining tent at 4am. A superb morning with lingering cloud on K2 signifying little wind in the area, we crossed the glacier for hopefully the last time.  As usual, crossing the glacier sleepy-eyed, I was walking with two-left feet and I saw Ben, Tacqui and Mahadi trot merrily off in the distance. Unfortunately no-one fell into the river, so once again I was denied amusement at the critical bamboo pole crossing.

Grace and Robbo at BC © brad jackson
Hamza and Louis climbed steadily to camp 1 and Ben and I hung back and took our time climbing to conserve energy for the marathon task ahead. The waterfall rock band had almost doubled in length upon our arrival as the snow had melted back and the rock climb crux became more difficult and sustained. After the fourth attempt though, this was not as difficult as the first attempts.  Our packs were not too heavy, we were carrying our down suits and additional gear for the summit push including goggles and high altitude mittens.  For some reason I had Sarah Blasko’s ‘ Amazing things’ on repeat in my head on the way up to Camp 1. I’ve had worst songs stuck in my head.

After 4 hours, we snuck into camp 1. The weather was fickle and I couldn’t quite anticipate which clothes to wear to Camp 2.  I stripped of a layer but regretted my decision as it clouded over and a breeze took hold. The Patagonia r1 Hoody went back on at a small horizontal snow patch next to a rock gendarme about half an hour climb from camp 1.

Acclimatized and not carrying too heavier a load, Ben and I chatted merrily. We discussed bold ideas of an Indian-Pakistani peace initiative and other ideas to solve the world’s problems.  I popped into Camp 2 around 2pm and had a brief chat to Grace at the lower tent before making my way to our tent at the upper end of Camp 2.
Climbing to C2 © brad jackson

Much to Ben’s disgust, we obviously had ‘squatters’ in our tent since our last stay. We have prime suspects but cant don’t have any direct evidence to name and shame. They had drunk all my coffee, left rubbish in the tent as well as a creepy slime (I shudder to think what it was) in the vestibule.  Rant over, we settled in for the afternoon and made a concerted effort to eat and drink as much as possible for the days ahead.

Trusty ramen noodles were promptly prepared as our mid afternoon snack and Freeze dried ‘Mountain Chili’ for was had for dinner.  After checking with Stu and his weather report, I hollered to the rest of the team, that we would head to camp 3 at 8am the next morning. We didn’t want to leave too early to avoid having to start the day too cold and then have to change clothes for the midday sun.

July 18th - Camp 2 to Camp 3

I had an absolutely wonderful sleep at Camp 2. Clich├ęd snug as a bug in a rug. Packs were heavier this morning as we packed our down suits (or 2 pieces for Louis and Grace) in addition to our sleeping gear, stoves, fuel and food for 4 days up the hill. A steep rise to the gendarmes had the lungs straining and the weather ominously went from clear skies to overcast. Our wind adversary greeted us again shortly after departure and at the halfway point to camp 3, I switched to balaclava, goggles and OR Alti gloves to close of all avenues of heat loss to wind chill.

Climbing to C3 © brad jackson

I was wildly optimistic at our intended arrival time at camp 3, hoping to arrive before 2pm but the biting wind; heavy packs and thin air had me arriving around 3pm. I was really pleased to see Robbo shrug of his earlier difficulties in climbing and make a strong climb to 3, easily cutting half an hour of my time. Grace too, arrived strongly ahead of me and Hamza followed closely in my footsteps.

Al likes to leave camp early in the mornings and set off to Camp 3 in his down suit. It was a good choice as he escaped any midday heat and arrived at camp ahead of all us with the HAP’s of Tacqui, Mahadi Sayed and Aziz. An extremely welcome sight on arrival at camp 3 was to see 4 tents setup. No lung breaking preparing of tent platforms and threading tent poles this time around.
Brad at C3 © brad jackson

On arrival at Camp 3 (~7,000m), it was snowing combined with a strong gusty wind. Our plan to set up my Nemo Tenshi as a fifth tent was abandoned. This meant that we had to squeeze 4 people into one of the 3 person tents.  So it was a very cozy Ben, Hamza, Matt and I that squeezed into a Marmot Thor 3P. Louis, Ben and Darren were our neighbors to one side and Tacqui, Arnie and Mahadi on the other side. Al, Sayed and Aziz were on a platform about 50 m up hill. Upon arrival at camp 3, almost everyone donned their down suits and it was a down-fest in the tent as down suitswere funneled into down sleeping bags. During the night, everyone apologized for their constant wriggling and fidgeting in the tight quarters but realistically we had so much down padding between us that we hardly felt a thing.

Ominously the snow continued to fall during the night, sounding like sand on the tent walls. Sharing a stove amongst 4 people, we melted snow, prepared ramen and munched on our sacks. Sardine packed in a tent can be dispiriting but with Zen like Hamza and stoic Matt, we settled in well.  As eyelids lowered for the evening, we collectively willed the snow to stop.

July 19th - Waiting at Camp 3

Ben on the radio at 6am to Al stirred me from a terrible sleep. Not even sure if I could use the word sleep but I did remember some dreaming, so I guess I got some rest. It had snowed intermittently all night and Ben and Al agreed that it best we hold off our push to camp 4 until it stopped snowing.

I was shocked when Hamza then informed us that he had vomited during the night and continued to have a headache that morning. It was with a heavy heart, that Ben recommended that due to Hamza having a combination of AMS symptoms, that he should descend. I had named Hamza the ‘Khan Tengri King’ due to his ascent of that mountain in 2010 and was quietly confident that he would climb very high on Broad Peak. I was quite devastated that he would be descending. 
Robbo and Grace descending from C3 © brad jackson

Matt also decided to descend. For the past 2 days he had been suffering some unspecified ailment that had been affecting his climbing performance. Matt had been arriving at camp later than his expectations and this did not bode well for his summit attempt.  Matt made the brave and wise decision to descend to repair and recuperate for his attempt on K2.

In the space of an hour, our 4-person cell had become a spacey 2-person berth.  The snow continued to fall. Louis popped his head into our tent at 9am and he and I optimistically agreed that snow would stop soon and the afternoon sun would consolidate the snow into a wonderful solid pathway to the summit.  Ben called Al again and we held our decision for the summit push to 6pm. We were basing our decision on a weather forecast that had predicted a shot at the summit on the 19th and 20th but the outside reality was completely at odds with the forecast. The Swedish climber Fredrick has earlier dubbed his German weather forecaster the evilincarnation of Herman Goebbels due to the inaccuracy of his forecasts and I was starting to think falling the same lines of our weather forecaster as the snow continued to fall into midday.

More 2-minute noodles were prepared for lunch and copious snowdrift into the vestibule meant collecting snow for water was a task easily done from within my sleeping bag.  As the afternoon dragged on and the sound of very dry snow continued to abrade against the tent, my optimism faded. Ben kept talking about food, the best sandwiches he’d had and the sumptuous Italian buffets he had dined upon. This can be very frustrating when one’s present food options consist of 2-minute noodles, happy cow cheese and some unloved freeze-dried food.

6pm rolled around and our worst fears were confirmed. In a continued theme, snow still fell. Now he snow turned from annoyance to danger. The slopes above our tents were forming the foundations of an avalanche, which was to have dire consequences for one person the following day. We cancelled our previously suggested midnight departure for a summit push and mentally re-arranged ourselves to pack up and head back to base camp the next morning. Once again as night fell and temperatures dropped snow continued to fall but strangely even with just 2 people in our tent, the night seemed warmer and I just used my sleeping bag more as a blanket rather than as a cocoon as per the previous night.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

FTA Broad Peak 2012 - Summit bid on hold in C3

Brad and Ben called in earlier to get the latest weather and to report that they had been holed up in  C3 today with constant snow fall that has left perhaps 20-30cm of new snow on the hill. While much of it has been blown off by the constant wind there is the concern for avalanche potential which is much higher now.

The plan for the moment is to arise in the morning and see if they have clear weather and the potential to still move up for a bid on the 21st but they will have to assess carefully whether they think sufficient snow has been deposited to make it unwise to cross the avalanche prone slopes between C3 and the col.

climbing from C2 to C3 © stu remensnyder
Already over on Gasherbrum 1 a team has been avalanched in the Japanese couloir and we are glad to know that all 5 climbers are safe and well after surviving the slide of some 500-1000ft. This certainly adds to the caution of our team and in the end the mountain will be there still for another year and 4 of our members still have additional time so we may yet see another bid after this one.

During the day today Hamza and Matt descended as they were not feeling strong and well at C3 and Matt has stopped at C2 to keep his options open but Hamza has made his way down to base camp and with time running short it is unlikely he will have a chance to go for the top again. 

Send your best thoughts for clear weather and we'll have more news tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

FTA Broad Peak 2012 - Summit push Update: in C3

Brad called in a short time ago to lest us know the entire team was in camp 3 at 7000m and doing well after a windy and snowy day. Safely ensconced in their airy abode at camp three tonight they are making preparations for pushing the route through to the high camp tomorrow. After the sun has warmed them up tomorrow they will pack up most of the tents and move them higher on the hill to shorten up the summit day. 

View from C3 in 2003 over to K2 © stu remensnyder

In some years when the conditions are good the team will make for the top from nearer to 7100m but in other years when necessary we establish a higher camp nearer to 7400m where there are a few flattish spots. Moving the camp up makes it much easier to reach the col and have time for a run all the way to the true summit if the winds and clouds allow. 

Anchors above C2 with K2 behind © stu remensnyder
The weather is predicted to allow for a summit bid though the winds may be as high as 30-40kmph so it will be a challenging summit bid for sure.

Col at 7850 en route to the summit © stu remensnyder

 We'll have updates every day and we hope you enjoy following along!

Monday, July 16, 2012

FTA Broad Peak 2012 - Summit push is on!

Our team is all on the hill today headed to C2 and hoping to have a chance to summit in the next 4-6 days. They will push to C3 tomorrow if the weather holds and establish C4 the next day. We see a weather window right now opening up either the 19th or 20th and they hope to be in position. Stay tuned for all the action!

Camp 4 in 2003 at 7400m © stu remensnyder

Brad's Journal
Brad continues to share the daily details and you can enjoy catching up on the events at Broad Peak below. Enjoy!

July 13th - Rest Day

A day of low activity as we licked our wounds from our excursion to camp 3.  Matt and Darren got an impromptu base camp haircut and we received various visitors from other camps.

July 14th - Rest Day

Hypothermia and frostbite was the subject of an almost 2 hour discussion as we talked about our proposed summit push and ways to mitigate our chances of cold injuries. Louis gave us a fascinating story of being the subject of a hypothermia case study in the Quebec winter and Matt discussed getting very very cold in the wilds of Scotland.  After discussing the weather with Stu and then with team members we have put off for now departing base camp until the 17th (Al and Darren on the 16th) for a proposed 20th July summit attempt.

Now a very special culinary event happened in the evening as a Dzo (Kind of like a yak) arrived at camp and was promptly slaughtered. Until now, our sole protein source has been goat, which admittedly had been met with mixed reviews by various members. Personally, I had only really liked the accompanying sauce and not the meat itself.

The night’s entertainment was a British movie entitled ‘ The Last 7’ which I think was an adaptation of a theatre play. I left about halfway through the movie which seems was a wise move. 1 out of 5 ‘Adzes’ from the FTA base camp review committee.

July 15th - Rest Day

A very idle day as we all tried to minimize energy output and continued to drink and eat as much as our new found protein source as possible. We had a bit of a TV session in the dining tent in the morning, watching an episode of ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’ followed by ’30 Rock and then some “Robin Williams Live”

That afternoon, the weather deteriorated again, and we had intermittent gusts and snow showers. I took this prime opportunity to take a shower…well when I say a shower, 20 liters of hot water was prepared and I was given an empty fruit tin to which pour water over myself. I had visions of shaving my beard and luxuriating in cascading warm water, but gusts of snow flurries up my nether regions meant the shower was short lived and my beard may be now thus defined as Arkansas-lite.

After yesterday’s disappointing movie, we switched to standard Hollywood Rom-com and watched ‘ Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ which received 3 out of 5 ‘Adzes’

July 16th - Rest day

Hearing Al’s voice at 0530 am, I unzipped my tent door and waved goodbye to Al, Darren, Sayed and Aziz as they braved light snow and made there way, for possibly the last time across the glacier up to Camp 1. Al and Darren had decided that it suits them best to make their way up to Camp 2 over 2 days, to conserve energy on their summit push.

Matt Grace, Ben, Arnie, Zeshan, Hamza and I had another meat-fuelled bonanza of a breakfast. (Louis was felling a bit poorly in the morning but recovered by the afternoon) The weather was still inclement and we hung put in the dining tent and generally bull-shitted. We started discussing our departure over the Gondogoro La pass, perhaps finding it easier to discuss our departure than our summit push. A member of the Chinese team across and we discussed climbing together but they are having problems with logistics and their HAP’s, so we shall see.

The rest of the day was spent organizing last minute items for the summit push and munching on as much crackers and cheese as possible.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

FTA Broad Peak 2012 - Summit Bid Brewing!

Ben called in a few hours ago to let us know that the team all down resting at base camp and looking forward to the summit push ahead of them.

The team will begin moving up on to the hill over the next 2-3 days and assemble at the highest camps with hopes for a summit bid on the 19th, 20th or 21st. With some work still to do to put in the route to C4 at near 7400m and with winds expected to diminish from 19 to 22 July our team hopes to be in a good position for any small windows that open up. Already several teams have made bids and been turned back by deep snows and it will take a concerted effort by our team to have a good chance for the top.

We'll be updating the site daily during the push with audio dispatches and written dispatches so stay tuned!

Brad's Blog
In the mean time please enjoy Brad's daily logs from the last push up the hill during which they established camp three at just about 7000m:

descent from c3 © brad jackson

July 9th - Base camp to Camp 2
We got up early, keen for an early start up to Camp 2 but were thwarted by some snow flurries and strong winds. We ate our brekky and then hung out till the flurries finished. We set up once again across the glacier and had magnificent views of K2 and surrounding mountains. The climb to camp 1
seemed different with the snow and melt cycles changing the nature of the ice up to camp 1. We moved quickly as we are now really acclimatized and were moving upwards on a big breakfast.

A quick stop at Camp 1 and Al Hancock moving fast had caught up to at this time. Al was staying at Camp 1 as the rest of us moved to Camp 2 to meet Grace and Matt who had climbed up the day before. We shuffled on to Camp 2 with the snow and ice in reasonable good condition and not too much feet sliding backwards in the couloir sections. I was surprised to see Tacqui, Mahadi and a HAP from the Taiwanese team about an hour out from Camp 2.

That day they had been tasked with pushing the tents and fixing the ropes to Camp 3. In a stilted conversation sliding past each other on the fixed lines, Tacqui explained that the weather approaching Camp 3 had been no good and that the tents were cached at about 6,700 m. This was disappointing
news but of course understandable. But it was only once they were long past did I stop to think and wonder why they didn’t stay at Camp 2 and wait for the following day instead of retreating all the way to base camp.
Robbo coming into C2
Anyways, I got to camp 2 around midday and once again I was amused how difficult the last 20-30 meters to my tent proved to be. I, once again was sharing a tent with Ben. It was only once Ben arrived at Camp 2 that I realized it was his birthday. I wished the young lad ‘Happy Birthday’. He then confessed that he had been dropping hints all the way to Camp 1 on ‘how old he was feeling’ etc. As a birthday treat, I promised to cook diner, which in reality just meant melting snow. We then settled into the small 2 person tent and waited for Arnie and Robbo to arrive before we could really relax. While waiting, I saw the arrival of the ‘Chinese team’, which consisted of a Chinese couple and supporting Sherpas and HAP’s. From Ben’s version of conversation with them, they had already climbed Everest Lhotse, Shishapangma, Cho Oyu and Makalu and were now on the way to try G1, G2 and Broad Peak. The Chinese entourage quickly settled into camp with Robbo and Arnie quick behind them

July 10th - Rest day at Camp 2
Snow fell steadily that evening and quashed our hopes of pushing to camp 3 that day. We poked our heads out at 05:30 am and saw enough snow drift to realize that holding off a day for the snow to consolidate would be our most energy conserving option. Unfortunately Grace had basically run out of food, so made the choice to descend back to base camp for rest and resupply. Al radioed in from Camp 1 and misconstrued our future intentions and also hightailed it back to Base camp. The rest of us (Louis, Hamza, Ben, Arnie, Robbo and myself) hung in at camp 2 and tried to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. I was engrossed in Mantel’s ‘Wolf Hall’, so ended up flicking through that on my iPhone as I kept abreast of Cromwell’s rise to the head of King Henry VIII’s court.

July 11th - Camp 2 to Camp 3
A clear night meant our push to Camp 3 was on. The Chinese team was also helping with fixing rope to Camp 3 so we basically waited until the sun hit our tents before departing with the Chinese team. It was good to be moving on new terrain as we started the 45-degree slope to the ‘gendarmes’ above camp 2. Our little convoy of 7 FTA members and 5 ‘Chinese team’ made a good path in the somewhat consolidated snow. Through some of the more dicey sections, the HAP’s fixed some nice quality 7 mm rope and we made our way steadily to the cache point. As the day progressed, the weather deteriorated and we were buffeted with gusts. We had initially inwardly scoffed at the Chinese team donned in down suits at the start of the day but as the day progressed, I at least became jealous of their ‘Himex’ down suits as our team was just in shells and mid-layer insulating layers.

After picking up the cached 3 x 3 person tents we came across an undulating snowfield riddled with parallel crevasses. Some co-ordination on the fixed lines was required to make sure lower climbers did not pull the higher climbers into the crevasses. Prior to this point I had snapped at a 2 person ‘independent’ team who had had declared they were climbing the mountain without support and thus would not help with the fixed lines. As they came up behind me pulling on the fixed lines, I asked ‘what the deal was?’, but they just laughed and kept jugging on the lines. They are not our favorite team on the mountain.

As the sun dropped, the wind increased and we felt an increased need to get to Camp 3. Both our teams stalled at a rocky outcrop above the crevasses and the Pakistani HAP’s of the Chinese team asked Ben for help to fix rope. Ben gallantly took the lead and fed out rope and fixed while the rest of us waited. Once again, us clad in shells and fleeces etc looked on with green eyes at the down suit garbed Chinese team. After a numbing 30 minutes we got the go ahead to start ascending and we entered rocky terrain mixed with dinner plate ice. We had been on the go for 8 hours now and the sun was getting low in the sky. I was getting concerned that some of us would be getting cold injuries and was relieved that although I was cold, I was not yet dangerously cold.

Finally, we saw the camp spot as Louis and Ben milled around a flat spot. The day was far from over, as we had to dig out a platform for 3 x 3 person tents. Shoveling snow at 7,000 m was intense, Not my most graceful of efforts, but I found it easiest to sink to my knees and then shovel rather than the more normal standing stance, After about 10 shovels of snow, I was gasping for air and handed of the shovel to the other guys. From this cooperative effort we finally managed to get a space cleared and the mountain gods were smiling as the wind did dissipate as the sun set and we managed to get the tents up without too much further complication. We also kept all our fingers intact. I was very proud of Matt, Louis, Arnie, Darren, Hamza and Ben. We all worked very well together under very trying conditions

It was getting dark as we finally got onto our tents and I think it fair to say that we were all collectively trashed. My dinner consisted of a kit kat and some orange tang. Ben managed to get in some 2 minute noodles and then we prepared ourselves for the cold, battening down the hatches so to speak by ensuring our sleeping bags were snug around our heads and feet were well insulated. Unfortunately, I quickly lost feeling in my toes and spent the night working my feet to ensure they didn’t freeze completely.

July 12th - Descent from Camp 3 to Base Camp
The morning was quiet, too quiet and Ben and I wondered what our charges were up to in the adjacent tents. Had everyone survived the night at 7,000 m ? Basically everyone was being as soundless as possible to avoid having to get out of sleeping bags. It was very cold that morning and spindrift has crept into all our tents overnight and frost covered everything not horizontal. All we could see was white from the eye slits of our sleeping bags. I was worried about my toes but also pining for basecamp so as light entered out tent, I covered my head and kicked at the walls to clear the snow. I shouted out to Robbo to get up and received a painful groan in response. Everyone else,
thus knew that it was time to get out of camp 3.

Having left my pee bottle at Camp 2, I left the relative warm confines of the tent to free willy and saw the Chinese team trotting down the hill, their summit push aborted (due to high winds). I am sure I felt my fingers solidify as I painted snow yellow and once finished dashed back into the tent to warm up my digits. My attempts at cold weather bravery over, I snuggled back into my sleeping bag and waited for the sun to hit the tent.
Hamza on descent
Like cold-blooded reptiles, once the sun hit the tents, we collectively stirred and base camp really beckoned. We all had rudimentary breakfasts; mine was a kiwi bumper bar and a liter of water that I had slept with over night. Even in the morning sunlight, pulling down the tents was painful. Ben had the wisdom to wear mittens, but the rest of lacked the dexterous skills to thread poles and wore less warm gloves. Much huffing and puffing, rubbing of hands and selective profanities were said in getting down those bloody tents.

Louis and Matt had their tent packed up first and went downwards as Ben and I helped Hamza, Arnie and Robbo pack up their TNF VE-25. The fresh snow overnight meant that we were post holing down the hill but was nice to see the tents at Camp 2 quickly appear in view. Some funky rap-ping down the steeper sections amongst the gendarmes and we were back at Camp 2. We re-deposited our wet sleeping bags at camp 2, to hopefully dry out and I melted some snow and had another bumper bar.

The descent from Camp 2 to Camp 1 was shrouded in mist and intermittent snow. I almost ran into a Slovenian climber who was just acclimatizing above Camp 1. I hadn’t expected to see anyone on my descent. The tents at Camp 1 appeared through the shroud and seemed to coincide with a clearing in the weather. I waited at Cap 1 until I saw Ben and Arnie appear and then made my way downward. The path from Camp 1 in the afternoon is increasingly chopped up with mini waterfalls appearing beneath the snow. The rock band in the afternoon now is a waterfall and I hope to get a picture on our summit push of someone abseiling down that waterfall, although to take a pic there is an invite to a rock in the head.

I caught up with Robbo at crampon point and Mahadi was there with biscuits and tea, which was simply delightful. Spurred on by this additional energy, we walked through the glacier with ease, much better than last time. At the new bamboo bridge, I videotaped one of the Chinese climbers crossing, evilly hoping to get some footage of some climber dunkage not realizing that Matt had fallen of the bridge perhaps half an hour earlier.

We got back to base camp around 3-4ish and Atta was in attendance with some soup, rice and mixed fruit. I was craving fluids and skipped the rice and got stuck into the soup and fruit. Was really great to see Al and Grace again, but I soon sneaked of to my tent for a bit of a Nana nap before reappearing
again at dinner. Grace and Al regaled us up with all the base camp activities, including the Aga Khan activities on the 11th July and the comings and goings of all the new climber at base camp.
base camp barber

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

FTA Broad Peak 2012 - C3 established!

Ben called in a bit out of breath just a short time ago from camp 3 at just over 7000m on Broad Peak with the good news that the route is fixed and tents set up.

They had a long a demanding day in difficult conditions that varied from deep snow to icy and rocky sections. Encumbered with tents and rope it made for a "full on" day and they are looking forward to a few well earned rest days after they return to base camp tomorrow.
Alex Txicon at C3 in 2003 showing well how one may feel at 7100m!
© stu remensnyder
We'll look forward to the images and full report of the push up to camp three when Brad gets back to his technocenter!

Monday, July 9, 2012

FTA Broad Peak 2012 - Snowy day in C2

Push to establish C3 at 7100m is on!

Our team is back on the hill after a good rest and hoping the weather will allow them to push the route through to camp three over the next few days. They had 4-5cm of snow today so will have to see what the morning brings. Taqui, Matt and Grace made a push towards C3 today but founds the going very deep so it may take a real team effort to make the trail!

At this time most of the team in in C2 with Al and Aziz in C1 and moving up to join the rest of the group tomorrow. Ben, Brad and crew will take additional rope and tents in the morning and hope to reach C3 and will call in to let us know how the day goes. Everyone is in good spirits and feeling well so now it is up to the weather gods!

(By the way today is FTA guide Ben Kane's birthday - not a bad way to spend it perched high on the slopes of a great mountain!  Happy Birthday Ben!)

The Base Camp Cancan  © brad jackson
Brad's Journal
Brad had continued to chronicle the daily events of the trip and the reports below will bring you up to speed on all things karakoram!

July 2nd - Another Rest day and push to Camp 1

Matt, Grace, Louis and Arnie went to Camp 1 while the rest of us had an additional rest day.

July 3rd - Climb from Base Camp to Camp 2

Ben, Hamza and I pushed to Camp 2 while Robbo and Al climbed to Camp 1 The crew that had camped at Camp 1 that day pushed to Camp 2.  I followed Robbo up to Camp 1. We got up a bit earlier that morning with breakfast at 03:30 am but still managed to depart at about 04:45 m and crampon point at 05:50. We were once again treated to a magnificent sunrise with clear views of K2.  We did manage to wind through the glacier without too much difficulty. It was a joy to climb with Robbo on a crystal clear morning and Darren had left some of his earlier difficulties behind.  Despite our steady pace, Fredrick from Sweden quickly passed us as did the French team, The French are guides from Chamonix and is a simple joy to watch their efficient movement up the mountains. 

Climbing the open slopes towards C1 © stu remensnyder

We got into Camp 1 at around 09:30 and I was struggling, once again I had made the mistake of not eating and drinking for over 3 hours and my body was struggling. At Camp 1 picked up my stashed gear and with a full load set off at a snail’s pace. I had been watching a lot of ‘The Wire’ recently and reminded myself of the quote “ as slow as a white guys in slippers’. After an hour slog, I finally sat down to some food and water and instantly felt re-energized and cursed my laziness at not eating earlier.  I continued my merry way up to Camp 2 with the French footsteps quickly fading. It was hot but I was solely dressed in a Patagonia full sleeve silk top and the sun’s rays simply bounced off me. As long as I didn’t rush ,I was in a comfy little body temperature homeostasis.

resting up at C1 en route to C2 © stu remensnyder

Rocking up to Camp 2, I saw Ben in a hive of activity. The platforms at 2 had not been prepared in the best manner possible and sauntered over to assist Ben in chipping ice and removing additional rocks to ensure a more horizontal environment for our Marmot Thor 2 p tents. This activity took our breaths away as we performed manual labour at 6,200 m. Once the tent was somewhat more stable, we chatted with our fellow high altitude campers and briefly watched the sunrise over the Karakorum.

That night for diner, I shared a with Ben a Beef Rotini.(freeze-dried of course) Ben,also was roped into melting snow while I collected the same, and I had a laugh as Ben inadvertently filled up my pee bottle with water. We then watched the sunlight slowly fade through our tent …but this time I was prepared for tent bound drudgery and had my sat phone and iPhone on hand to pass the time until entering the land of nod.

Tent perched at C2 © stu remensnyder

July 4th - Hang out at Camp 2

Today was just an acclimatization day. Al and Robbo left early in the cold hours of the morning at 5:00 and met us at Camp 2. We all spent our day wasting the day at Camp 2 on a milder day compared to the day previous.  Ben and I went on an arduous and epic journey up and down camp 2 without crampons to visit the rest of the team. Louis went on a voyage of discovery up to about 6,650m for a look at the route to Camp 3.  Trusty ramen noodles were for lunch courtesy of Ben. For dinner, I provided Spaghetti Marinara, which was sans Seafood anywhere in the list of ingredients.

Ben at C2 © brad jackson

July 5th

Descent from Camp 2 to Base Camp

A windy morning greeted us on the 5th and our previous night’s irrational exuberance of getting up at 6 am for a early departure dissipated as we snuggled up in our bags for an extra half hour of warmth.  The sun hit our tents and I boiled snow previous melted snow and added a sachet of instant coffee. This was our sustenance for the morning’s activities and payback for non-eating was later as I struggled to return back through the glacier to base camp.

Ben and I were the last to leave at around 9am and I popped down the ridge just below Camp 2 to take some pics and videos of Ben rapping down the ridge with K2 in the background.  The down climb was quick and uneventful and was once again was impressed at how quickly we get off this mountain. About 1:30 minutes from Camp 2 to crampon point.  The snow wasn’t balling up our crampons so the fixed line really dug into our jackets as we whizzed down the lines.
Ben descending from C2 © brad jackson

By the time I hit the glacier, I was trashed. Once again, I had the odd feeling of requiring an incredibly amount of effort to walk up a 5 m hill on the glacier despite my previous efforts.

At the end of the glacier, close to our base camp, our team has been stymied by a large river flow. I so wish I had caught it on video, but one of the Taiwanese teams’ HAP’s ended up throwing a sweater/jumper across the river to which we would hold on to the sleeve and then jump across.  A completely insecure device to which cross a river, but secure enough to give us confidence to leap. 6 of us sweater-leapt across the river and then climbed the last hill to the safe confines of our base camp.

Darren and Hamza with K2 behind © brad jackson

July 6th

Rest day and attend to climber’s frostbite

Al came down on the morning after his additional night at Camp 2 with Aziz. That morning Robbo helped me ‘landscape garden’ my tent as a sunken hollow had formed where my head should have laid.

At around 11am Ben received a phone call, nominally from the family of one the climbers on Broad Peak that he was in distress and needed a rescue team. A flurry of activity ensued as we tried to ascertain if the climber was actually in distress and needed rescue, complicated by the European language/Urdu/Balti/English interchange. .  We trained our eyes and telephoto lenses on the slopes of Broad Peak trying vainly to spot anyone in need of help.

Two climbers were spotted descending from Camp 1 and Ben and the HAP’s of Taqui. Mahade, Aziz and Sayeed formed a team to meet them at crampon point. They also took along some recently acquired bamboo lengths to use as an interim bridge to cross the swollen afternoon river in the glacier.

On meeting the climbers, Ben radioed ahead and we at base camp prepared to treat a case of frostbite.  Water was heated to 100deg F and a sterile place for treatment was made in our storage tent. Upon arrival, the afflicted climber removed his shoes and socks in Ben and my presence and I was personally ecstatic that he showed no major signs of frostbite. We treated the climber for frostbite injury as a precautionary measure. Probably best I not get too immersed in private medical details, but appears he was very prudent in his decision making and turned around on his summit attempt before serious medical issues arose.  His relative injury free escape from the mountain was of great relief to all of us at the FTA team.
Bridge and rescue team © brad jackson

July 7th - Rest Day

A day of errands and preparations. Our next trip up the hill will most likely be our last rotation before the summit push. Matt and Grace decided to go up earlier than the rest of us.  Such is the flexibility this trip allows and they were scurrying around getting ready.  They made the bold call to wake up at 1:30 am and depart at 2am to escape the daytime heat.

Ben and I strolled over to the adjacent camp and checked on the feet of the climber we had attended the day before. His feet were in great shape and we spent the rest of the morning discussing war stories and naming obscure mountains that we would like to climb. Was a fun morning followed by a fairly lackadaisical afternoon.  The evening’s entertainment was ‘Get him to the Greek’

July 8th - Additional Rest day

We’re getting antsy now, we have had our rest and recuperation and time to get back up the hill.  Last minute packing and milling about the mess tent as we idle time until our departure. Breakfast has been declared at 03:00, considered the best time between getting some sleep and escaping the sun on the slopes. Today we woke up considerably colder with a cloudless night, so we are hoping we will not get too cold on our early morning departure tomorrow morning.

The plan tomorrow is to sleep at 2 and then move up and establish camp 3 at 7,100 m before dropping back to base camp again. We are taking up an additional tent, emergency oxygen, food for 3 days and various other sundries. The weather forecast is for high winds from the 13-15th so we wish to have camp 3 prepared and safely back at base camp before the possibility of being blown away.

[note: see images below of C3 in good and bad conditions]
FTA 2003 member Fred Muylert at C3 on a warm day © stu remensnyder

Avalanche and wind destroyed tents at C3 in 2003 © stu remensnyder