Karakorum 2010: Weather Delays On K2

450px K2 from air

It has been a busy week throughout the Karakorum range, where climbers have topped out on a number of mountains, but all eyes are now turning towards K2, as teams there prepare to make their summit bids, with a new weather window expected to open early next week.

According to ExWeb, a new weather forecast has now moved the K2 summit window to Tuesday of next week, and teams are adjusting their schedule appropriately. A number of climbers are planning on setting off tomorrow, with an eye on hitting the summit on schedule with the new weather window. Amongst them are Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner who is hoping to become the first woman to climb all fourteen 8000 meter peaks without the use of supplemental oxygen.

Fredrik Ericsson and Trey Cook are also hoping to go up tomorrow, with the eventual goal of making a ski descent of the mountain. On their blog, Trey has posted a story that explains how it is possible that Bulgarian cimber Petar Unzhiev died earlier this week while in Camp 2 on the mountain, without anyone knowing. It seems that Petar arrived at BC, but proceeded up the mountain far too quickly, skipping past ABC and moving on to Camp 1. After spending the night there, he would have normally gone back down the mountain to recover, but instead, he and his high altitude porter, chose to move up to Camp 2 instead. Other climbers heard Petar in his tent with very labored breathing, but they assumed that his porter was watching out for him. As it turns out, the porter had gone down to BC without alerting anyone, and it seems that Unzhiev developed and succumbed to HACE in the process. A very sad story that should provide a number of lessons for high altitude mountaineers. 

Also headed to K2 are the Field Touring Alpine Team, who have finished their acclimatization on Broad Peak, and are now moving to K2 Base Camp. While the team didn’t summit on BP, they are now hoping to take advantage of their experience on that mountain to knock of K2 instead. They are eying the weather window for early next week as well, but are also considering a second window which is in the forecast for the 30th of the month, so it seems they are in no rush to scramble up the mountain. 

A few days back there was quite a bit of action on the Gasherbrums where Colombian climber Felipe Ossa became the first person this season to scale GI. Next door, on GII, the Altitude Junkies put several of their climbers on the summit, while the Czech team of Petr Masek, Radek Jaros, and Libor Uher also topped out, but are still only halfway to their goal. That team of strong climbers hopes to knock off GI yet this season as well, claiming a Karakorum double-header on the Gasherbrums.

It seems the teams on K2 are the ones gearing up for action now. This weekend will likely be spent heading up the mountain and waiting for the weather window to appear on Tuesday. Lets hope everything goes well, and everyone climbs very safely. We all know what this mountain is capable of.

Kraig Becker