It was a very difficult weekend on K2, where the climbers continue to mourn the loss of their friend Fredrik Ericsson who fell to his death last week while attempting the summit in less than ideal conditions. Nearly all of the climbers who have posted their thoughts on the subject have noted how well liked the Swedish skier was and what a big personality he was in Base Camp. It seems his spirit is missed greatly at the moment.
Fredrik, along with his climbing partner Trey Cook, were the first team in K2 BC this year, arriving to make a bold attempt to not only climb the mountain, but make a ski descent of its scary slopes. Last Friday, at around 8 or 9 AM local time, while climbing in high winds and low visibility, Fredrik was attempting to fix ropes to the higher slopes of the mountain, above the Bottleneck, when it appears that he slipped while trying to clip in. He then plummeted 1000 meters (3280 feet) to his death, while Gerlinde Kalenbrunner, the only other climber with him at the time, looked on. His body would be discovered some time later in the day.
According to the Field Touring Alpine Blog, it was quite an emotional time in Base Camp on Saturday when all the climbers finally made it down to BC. The report says that rock slides and avalanches have been taking their toll on the fixed lines and camps, with Camp 3 being all but destroyed and a number of the ropes being cut by the constant flow of rocks. What this means for any further attempts this year is anyone’s guess, as it sounds like a lot of work needs to be done to go back up the mountain, and the dangers of avalanches are running high. On top of that, the Karakorum season is quickly coming to an end, so more weather windows may be out of the question. If no one summits, it’ll be the second year in a row without anyone standing on top of K2, and we all know what happened back in 2008, when 11 climbers were killed.
For now, it appears most teams are in BC and weighing their options on going for the summit one last time vs. going home, which won’t be easy either considering the high amounts of rainfall that have hit the area in recent weeks and the devastating flooding that has been affecting the region as well. I’m sure for some, they’d like nothing more than to get out of Base Camp and head home, but that isn’t going to be as simple as it sounds either.
Lets hope no matter which path they take, everyone gets home safe.
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