Adventure Interviews Wilco van Rooijen

National Geographic’s Adventure Blog, the official blog of Adventure Magazine, conducted an interview with Wilco Van Rooijen, one of the survivors of the K2 tragedy yesterday, and posted it online for all of us following the story to read.

Wilco begins to shed a little more light on the events that transpired on K2 beginning last Friday, when the teams were making their summit bid, with personal accounts on his trip to the summit, and what happened afterwards. He paints a fairly grim picture of what happened up there, and weighs in on the subject of inexperience on the mountain.

According to Wilco, there was no real avalanche at the Bottleneck as has been widely reported. He says that a serac collapsed, we was part of previous accounts, and that it claimed the lives of three mountaineers, while also sweeping away the fixed lines. After that, he said there was panic on the upper slopes, with people scrambling off in all directions and some of them perished because they couldn’t find Camp IV in the chaos.

He also discusses his own descent, down a very technical part of the mountain, without rope of any kind. He says that he was pushed to the limits of his own climbing ability to reach a slope that was easier to descend. At that point, he was exhausted, dehydrated, and not thinking clearly in the thin air, but he focused on just getting down as quickly as he could, stumbling into Camp III, and not even realizing that’s where he was.

There is a lot more to the interview as well, and it’ll begin to fill in the blanks of what it was like on K2. At this point, it seems that the collapsing serac is just the beginning of the story. Great work out of the team over at Adventure on getting this story together so quickly.

Kraig Becker

7 thoughts on “<i>Adventure</i> Interviews Wilco van Rooijen”

  1. Not so sure Wilco should be pointing fingers…sounding like he may have been part of the problem:

    Also from the account of Alberto Zerain:
    “On July 31st he leaves camp 3 at 22:00 hours, in only two hours he reaches camp 4 (he was coming from a summit attempt at Broad Peak, where a headache near the summit forced him down). He hopes to find someone to go to the summit with. But nobody comes out their tents. After waiting outside the tents for more than an hour, he decides to push up alone. As he is opening the route, he is followed by several porters. The snow is very deep and steep and he has to get next to the rocks to fix pro and ropes. At sunrise he reaches the “bottle neck”. There is indecision in the group, as there are no fixed ropes in this section. He asks for two screws, and with one ice axe he climbs the section. He waits for the others to follow, particularly for a porter that has his camera and has taken pictures of him climbing the bottle neck. What he does not know it that Serbian Dren Mandic has fallen when following him. After waiting for two hours, at 11:00 am, Alberto keeps goings for the summit in deep and unstable snow. He is surprised that despite the unstability of the snow the group keeps moving up at slow pace. At 15:00 he reaches the summit. On this way down crosses the group, and thinks that giving the late hours they are going to get in trouble. He goes down quickly to camp 3. When resting there, he gets the news from two guys going up that there is some trouble higher up.”

  2. There seems to be some inconsistencies in the various stories we’ve heard as well. A few things that we heard early are not meshing up with things we’re hearing now. Maybe we’re finally getting the true story, maybe not. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.

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