Karakorum 2009: Teams Gearing Up

Things are starting to heat up in the Karakorum, as more teams are arriving in base camps across the range now that flights have resumed between Islamabad and Skardu. But before I report on events in Pakistan, there is one more story to update from the Himalaya.

Sadly, the search for Micah Dash, the third climber missing on E Gongga, has been called off. The bodies of his climbing partners, Jonny Copp and Wade Johnson, were discovered amidst the rubble of an avalanche more than a week ago, and a search and rescue team turned into a recovery operation instead. Now, after combing the mountain, the team has called off the search and headed home. At this point, I think everyone knew that Micah had likely perished along with his friends, but it’s still sad for the family that they haven’t received the closure that they may have wanted. Lets continue to keep them in our thoughts.

Meanwhile, moving back over to the Karakorum, last week I reported that the first summit pushes were a go on Broad Peak, but bad weather turned back the team of Elisabeth Revol, Antoine Girard and Ludovic Giambasi.Elisabeth and Ludovic attempted the summit last Friday, but heavy snow turned them back, while Antonie suffered with altitude sickness in BC. The weather reports don’t look good for the near future either, so for now, the team will sit and wait, and hope something opens before the 12th of July, their projected date to leave base camp.

Things aren’t looking much better on K2 at the moment either. Teams are still making the trek to the mountain for the most part, but they are already finding a lot more snow on the trail than last year, and the storms have been dumping plenty more on the summit itself. It’s going to take some time before they have established their high camps, but at the moment, there are no impending weather windows on K2 either.

On Nanga Parbat, Gerfried Göschl and the rest of his team, are the first to reach base camp and have already begun setting up their base of operations. They’ve spent the last three days trekking into BC and are now at 4250 meters (13,943 feet).

The Altitude Junkies are just one of many teams who are in the trekking phase of their journey at the moment. They’re on their way to the Gasherbrums, and their latest dispatch gives you an idea of the scope of the operations they are undertaking. The team has contracted 140 porters to carry all of their gear to BC, and they note that they expect to use many more in the re-supply process in the weeks ahead. They report great weather conditions at the moment, and if all goes well, they’ll reach the mountain by Friday.

Seems like we have a lot of teams still in transit or just arriving and scoping out the scene. Hopefully there will be good weather in the near future and they can get down to climbing, although the heavy snow sounds like it could be treacherous on a number of the big peaks. Stay tuned!

Kraig Becker

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