|K2 from C3 on Broad Peak © stu remensnyder
They are well acclimatized from sleeping at Camp 2 and both had been to over 7000m/23,100ft on the last round up. Camp 3 is typically located above 7100m leaving about 900m vertical on the summit day. In some years we push the camp up rather than summit directly from Camp 3 as this can shorten the summit day. They will have to see how they are going when they arrive and will either head straight for the top the next day or push camp up and try for the top the following morning. Factors that will plan into the decision include snow conditions, route fixing concerns and other climbers on the hill to join forces with to push the route through.
On summit day they will work from camp on moderate terrain to the base of the col where it steepens up considerably for about 50-100 meters and can often be as much as 50-60° of snow, ice or rock. One they have gained the col at 7850m they have to negotiate an exposed and sinuous ascending ridge with short rocky and snow/ice steps to reach the fore summit at about 8030m. This is often as far as climbers get as the next 16 vertical meters is nearly 900m away and one must be feeling strong as the trip over and back can still be a few more hours of the hardest work one has ever done. On ascent the right side of the ridge looks steeply all the way back down the base camp in Pakistan while the left side drops nearly vertically many thousands of feet down in to China.
We will have word on their progress and post it here!
The last 4 days have seen a lot of mediocre weather in base camp or in Skardu (or both) and Brian is still waiting along with John for the arrival of the helicopter. He is resting well, watching reruns of movies on an iPad and looking forward to a soft bed in the next few days. Today the weather was better in Skardu and base camp but still poor in-between. We hope tomorrow will bring the clear weather needed for a safe flight out.
The image below is from 2003 and shows the kind of terrain for the landing and why it is important that they have excellent visibility and proper winds for landing in the thin air at 4800m/15,800ft.
|Helicopter evac near Broad Peak BC © stu remensnyder