Karakorum 2009: Summit Push Begins on K2 and Gasherbrums

It has been a rough season, as usual, in the Karakorum with weather woes, tragedy on several mountains, and avalanches, and conditions that are amongst the most harsh on Earth. But it can all be forgotten if the teams can just finish what they’ve started, and stand on top of those big peaks. A number of teams have begun to take the first steps to do just that today, with summit pushes currently underway on both K2 and the Gasherbrums.

On K2, the most dangerous mountain on the planet, we get word from Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner that today is the day that she and her climbing partners will begin their ascent, and Martin Ramos is projecting the same schedule. If the weather holds, and everything goes as expected, they should be standing on the summit on Saturday. The Field Touring Alpine Team is still in BC according to their latest update yesterday, but everyone is acclimatized, feeling good, and ready to go as well, so they will likely be following along this weekend too.

This comes on the heals of a report earlier in the week from ExWeb that Jorge Egocheaga claimed the first summit of the mountain last Sunday, following a solo climb in deep snow. Well done Jorge and congrats on the summit!

Similar stores are coming in from the Gasherbrums too, where ExWeb is also reporting that five climbers topped out on Gasherbrum II on Monday, just before a storm moved in an blanketed the area. But the weather window is expected to open again in time for the weekend, as apparently teams are spread out across the mountain, from C2 to C3 on both G1 and G2, including Veika Gustafsson and Kazuya Hiraide who hope to top out on G1 this weekend. They set off for C1 this morning with their eyes on the Gasherbrum 1 summit.

The teams on both of these mountains have been very patient and it looks like it is finally going to pay off. The weather seems to be improving and conditions high on the mountains are stabilizing, although there were reports a few days back about avalanches on K2. Hopefully the worst of those conditions are over, and the teams can climb high and safe. Especially on K2, where we are approaching the anniversary of the tragedy from last year.

Kraig Becker