Monday, June 25, 2012

FTA Broad Peak team - in BC and establishing C1

Our team has made their way to their home for the next month at the base of Broad Peak. The members have been making it as comfortable as possible despite the fact that it is a rock and boulder covered moving glacier! After two days of acclimatizing, practicing fixed rope and ice climbing skills and sorting gear they have made their first foray onto the slopes of Broad Peak hoping to make carries to Camp 1.

From BC to the base of the route
© stu remensnyder

Audio Dispatches

Ben dropped us an audio dispatch yesterday which you can listen to here. It will be interesting to hear the difference in his voice as the trip goes on. Usually crisp and clean in Skardu and pretty hoarse by the time we are done!

We do our audio dispatches using ipadio which has been a fantastic resource for us over the past few years. It is quite a thing for our teams in the field to be able to simply dial a number and leave a voice dispatch that shows up without any delay on our site allowing real time communication with family, friends and followers. If you are looking about for a way to send out audio dispatches from cell phones & sat phones when you are off on a trip or expedition, we can highly recommend them.

Brad's Journal

Brad has continued to write daily notes and here are the last few days to catch you up along with some nice images...enjoy!

June 19 - A long day to Udukas. 

We left reasonably early at 06:00am and didn't arrive till 3 pm due to helping someone who has been weakened due to GI issues. This was the longest day of the trek and we had to make sure our water lasted the day. A big plug for the Camelbak All Clear as I just scooped up water from the glacial streams and UV filtered for 60 seconds. The campsite at Urdukas was dirty but we had a wonderful view over Cathedral and Citdael Peaks and Trango tower.

crossing glacial streams on the Baltoro © stu remensnyder

We also had our first view of Broad Peak. Ben called me out of the tent to take pics. Matt, Darren, Ben and I spent quite some time watching the changing hues of the alpenglow on our intended mountain.

June 20 - Udukas to Goro 2

Today was the day the absolute silence of the Baltoro was shattered by a pair of Mirages flying low and fast down the glacier. My first thoughts was of a massive avalanche as a piercing scream sounded ahead of us before screeching overhead. The Pakistani Air Force Mirage flyby was actually a gift from our liason officer Zeshan, who has requested a fly by while we were organizing our gear in Skardu.  Even he was quite amazed at how low the fly by was, with estimates at less than 100 m above us.
Hamza with Gasherbrum IV behind © brad jackson

June 21 - Goro 2 to Concodia

 The most wonderful hike of the trek in to base camp. We weaved through penitentes and ice sculptures underneath Masherbrum, Mustagh tower and Mitre peak.  The route was more  undulating with out the steepness that the glacier had shown in previous days. Robbo and I stopped to do some impromptu interviews/discussions as we had a lot more energy and the scenery energized us more than the previous days.

As we approached Concordia, skirting the striking Mitre peak, I just knew K2 was looming around the corner. Once K2 revealed herself about 100m from Concordia we stopped again and took photos of an almost completely cloudless 8,611 m mountain. The Abruzzi, the Cessen, the shoulder were all on display. I had read that complete views of K2 were rare, so was quite amazed to see her naked on my first visit. On arrival at base camp, I was just in photography frenzy, taking pics and videos of K2, G4 and Mitre peak. The afternoon light was simply perfect.

Robbo with K2 from Concordia © brad jackson

June 22 - Concordia to Base Camp

Snow fell over night and we woke to a different landscape.  Ben and Sayed left camp about an hour ahead of the main group to scout out the best place for base camp. An amusing story from a previous year, a keen member raced to base camp  ahead of the porters and stopped at a scenic place. The porters caught up to him and dropped all the gear ignoring the fact that they were probably an hour out from the actual start of the route. For that particular expedition, all excursions to and from the route meant an additional hour to and from base camp.
Hamza and K2 © brad jackson

The light snow across crevasses meant the start of the trip to base camp was slow and many of the mountains were covered except the summit of K2 often coming into view.  At one stage, a piece of black Pakistani army communication cable was used as fixed rope to help us and the porters descend a particular steep part of the glacier. The remainder of the walk to base camp had Broad peak covered and K2 looming directly ahead of us.
Brad with K2 behind at base camp © brad jackson

 Like many of the recent hiking days, our expectation of an  easy quick walk dragged out to longer than expected and the heat rose as the clouds dissipated. A bevy of sitting porters sitting on the glacier revealed base camp and we surveyed our new home.  Patches of relatively flat areas were sequestered and each member started to build the foundation of our new homes as the camp staff started building the cooking and eating ten

Our tent platforms consisted of placing rock on glacier and filling with gravel to build ourselves above the glacier and mitigate the effect of water running beneath our tents as summer changes the glacier.  I had brought my personal Hilleberg Nammatj GT, which has almost twice the space of a TNF VE-25, so spent considerable time making a flat space. Realistically I was having as much fun as a getting a new Lego set at Christmas, as I sorted out rocks to get the perfect platform.

The afternoon sun burnt of the clouds on Broad Peak and we had our first chance to survey the route. Broad Peak summit is very very close to base camp, much closer than I have seen on Cho Oyu and Everest. I could be wrong but the vertical and horizontal distance seems very similar, definitely no long approaches.  Robbo and I were also surprised at the apparent steepness of the route but we were hoping that the fact that we were looking at the route head on may have distorted our perception on steepness.

June 23 - Base camp rest day

A wonderful sleep in as breakfast was at 8am. We had all been dreaming of base camp and our single tents and I think we all slept well without our tent partners.

Today is an active rest day as we sorted through gear, charged up devices and had a cooking stove school.

An ominous rumble in the afternoon and looking up at broad peak we see an avalanche roll down the face. We noted with interest the path  of the avalanche and hope we can weave a path up the mountain out of the main avalanche routes.

Avalanche on Broad Peak © Brad Jackson

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