Karakorum 2010: Mixed Results and Tragedy on K2

It was a bit of a mixed bag for teams across the Karakorum this weekend. While the weather window opened as expected, copious amounts of snow high on the mountains prevented many from reaching their goals. Still, there were some successful summits and word of a death on K2.

ExWeb is reporting this morning that Bulgarian climber Petar Georgiev Unzhiev passed away on K2 this weekend, succumbing to altitude sickness at Camp 2. He was climbing as part of the Adventure Tours Pakistan team, and other than receiving word from his family to bury him at C2, not much else is known about the situation. My condolences go out to Petar’s friends and family. 

Staying on K2, we received word over the weekend that Christian Stangl has returned to the mountain to make another attempt at a speed record. The Austrian climber turned back last year 316 meters beneath the summit, and he’s hoping that he can finish the job this year.

ExWeb says that now that he’s set the speed record for completing all of the Seven Summits, he’s going for the “Second Seven”, or the second highest mountain on each of the seven continents. Next up, he’ll return to Antarctica and go for Mount Tyree.

Meanwhile, over on Broad Peak, the Basque BAT Team hoped to complete their traverse of the mountain’s three summits this weekend, and they were successful after a couple of very long days in the mountains. They also managed to establish a new route in the process, marking the first new route by a Basque team on an 8000-meter peak. Check out their video below for more. 

Also on Broad Peak, explorer Mike Horn and climbing partner Kobi Reichen reached the summit over the weekend as well. The duo climbed without the use of supplemental oxygen, topping out at 2 AM local time. The long climb followed nearly three weeks of waiting patiently for the weather to clear and for the massive amounts of snow on the summit to come down in the form of avalanches. 

The Field Touring Alpine squad weren’t so lucky with their ascent. They called off their planned summit bid just below the Col on BP due to heavy amounts of snow along their route. On Saturday they were all back in C3 and in good health and spirits, and there has been no word yet if they’ll have another go at the summit or if they’ll just proceed to K2 now. 

On the Gasherbrums it was success for one team while another turned back. The Czech team on GII topped out on Saturday and was back in BC safe and sound yesterday afternoon. Don Bowie and Alexey Bolotov didn’t have the same luck on GI however. The boys were forced back down the mountain due to chest deep snow. They’re back in BC now too, with no word on another attempt for now.

A second weather window is expected this week and some of the climbers, such as Gerlinde and Ralf, were taking advantage of one more acclimatization rotation this weekend. They’re likely to make their summit bids on K2 this week if the weather holds as expected. The next few days could be very interesting once again. 

Kraig Becker