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 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
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
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