While most of the news over the past few days on K2 has been about the climbers on the Abruzzi and Cesen Routes, or the Russians on the Western Face, we’ve heard little about the efforts of the team on the North West Ridge. K2Climb.net has posted a progress report today with news that despite poor conditions, the team is making steady progress.
The mixed Kazakh and Russian team set off last week to establish Camp 4 as the continue their efforts toward the summit. They divided up into smaller groups and began to climb in a staggered fashion in order to share duties fixing ropes and restocking the high camps. On Saturday they completed fixing the ropes up to C3 and then continued to proceed upwards, where both of the groups established a temporary C4 at 7600m with the intention of eventually moving it up to 7800.
As they moved higher, the discovered that the traverse from rock to ice was quite dangerous and would be a trick portion of the climb, but were relieved to find that conditions improved as they approached the summit couloir. They are currently reporting good weather conditions, and are continuing to set down rope with an eye towards going for the top.
Meanwhile, it’s also being reported that the three Russian climbers on the Western Face who retreated while just 100 meters below the summit, have arrived back in base camp. Nickolay Totmjanin, Gennady Kirievsky and Alexey Bolotov climbed down in very bad conditions with snow and high winds making things difficult. They reported that the snow was as much as chest deep near the summit, which made breaking trail exhausting and all but impossible.
The West Face Team hasn’t given up though, as they now are waiting for the next weather window, said to be coming around Sunday, so they can have another crack at reaching the top. These Russians are sure persistent! 😉