GII Avalanche Debrief has posted a debrief from GII regarding the avalanche that took place there last week. The Amical Gasherbrum team was moving up the mountain, and was caught between C2 and C3 by a massive avalanche that, in the end, claimed the lives of two climbers, and injured several others.

The debrief gives first hand accounts by other teams that jumped in to help immediately. They tell a tale of heroism and camaraderie on the mountain, and how a beautiful day of climbing turned tragic in a split second. A number of teams abandoned their own plans for summit bids to come to the aid of the buried climbers, and several of them were dug out and rescued within minutes.

Injured climbers were later air lifted out of C1, but not until a rescue attempted was aborted at C2, and General Pervez Musharraf, the President of Pakistan, personally ordered two helicopters to conduct the rescue. One of the climbers, Hiro Takeuchi of Japan, had to wait 36 hours before being plucked from the mountain.

The current theory as to what caused the avalanche is that a team climbing higher on the mountain was digging out a fixed line that was buried beneath the snow, and it created a slab avalanche. The story just underscores the delicate nature of climbing on these more dangerous peaks, and how someone’s actions up high, can have devastating consequences lower on the mountain.

Kraig Becker

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