Karakorum Update: Summit Bids and Acclimatization


Things are starting to get busy in the Karakorum, where teams are starting summit bids on some peaks, while others continue the process of acclimatization on others. High camps are being stocked and the weather is deciding factor, as the season moves further into July.

We’ll start on Broad Peak, where the action is underway with a major push by the BAT Basque Team made up of Alberto Iñurrategi, Mikel Zabalza  and Juan Vallejo. According to ExWeb, the boys headed up the mountain today on their initial summit push in the hopes that they can take advantage of four days of good weather that is currently in the forecast. They’ll be making an alpine style climb, along a new route no less, that will eventually see them traverse all three of Broad Peak’s summits. Apparently they’re going as light and fast as they can, carrying no oxygen, and using no porters, fixed ropes, or established camps. They hope to summit on Saturday and complete the traverse on Sunday, if all things go according to plan. Stay tuned for more on this dramatic climb. 

Mike Horn and his climbing partner Kobi Reichen have begun their second summit attempt on BP as well. The two turned back due to bad weather a week or so back, and have been patiently waiting for a weather window ever since. It seems they’ll try to take advantage of the four days of good weather ahead too. 

The Field Touring Alpine Team is also working the normal route on BP, and are expected to finish fixing the lines up to Camp 3 today. They expect to spend the night there tonight and then descend back to Base Camp tomorrow. They’re hoping to then rest for a few days and decide the best time to make their own summit bid. The Broad Peak climb is being used as a warm-up and acclimatization process before heading over to K2. 

Speaking of K2, Fredrik Ericsson and his partner Trey Cook, have checked in from that mountain, giving us some details of their recent climb up the mountain that resulted in them descending back down, on their skis, in bad weather. They had hoped to spend more time acclimatizing themselves, but a predicted small storm turned into a raging blizzard, forcing them back to BC for awhile. Upon their arrival back in Base Camp, they learned that their missing supplies had finally arrived, and that the Polish Team is planning to head up the mountain tomorrow, with Gerlinde and Ralf going up on Saturday. They also report that a Korean team working the Abruzzi Spur, dismissed their high altitude porters, creating a bit of a stir in their camp. They’ll now join forces with one of the other teams to work the route. 

Summit bids are underway on other mountains in the region as well, including a Korean Team going for the top of Nanga Parbet and the Altitude Junkies are reporting that teams are preparing to make their bids on Gasherbrum II as well. Nearby on GI, Don Bowie and Alexei Bolotov reportedly had to navigate their way to C2 using a GPS due to the incredibly bad weather that has plagued the area of late. In fact, the weather has been so bad that one French team has elected to call it quits, going home early, calling the weather “exasperating”. 

Seems like it’s going to be a challenging season once again in the Karakorum. Weather conditions are, as usual, very nasty, and the peaks there are unforgiving to say the least. Lets hope these teams get a crack at their respective summits. 

Kraig Becker