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

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