Karakoram 2011: News From K2

280px K2 2006b

While there have been a number of reports from Broad Peak and the Gasherbrums over the past week or so, including news on successful summits, there hasn’t been many updates from K2. The climbers on that mountain have been working hard however, as they not only build camps and fix lines, but also acclimatize for the challenging climb ahead.

According to Maxut Zhumayev, the team of international climbers that he is a part of have completed fixing their lines up to Camp 3 at 7100 meters (23,293 ft). After spending some time, and considerable energy, at altitude however, they have now returned to BC where they are getting some much deserved rest and relaxation, including singing around the campfire and drinking beer from a jar. Maxut also describes the winds at the summit as a “hurricane” and reports that they’ll now take a few days rest before proceeding back up the mountain.

Similarly, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner is also part of the same team, and offers some insights as well. Their weather forecast had promised them decent conditions while they were on the mountain, but they deteriorated rather quickly once they got above ABC. The winds picked up and the snow began to fall, as the temperatures dropped, making it a much harder excursion than they had anticipated. Still, it sounds as if they accomplished their goals and everyone is feeling good. Gerlinde even says that they were ready to climb back up to C3 to spend the night and begin work on the route to Camp 4, but the weather deterred them, so they went back down to rest up instead.

Once Camp 4 is established, they’ll begin eying the summit. It is the final camp before they make a run at the top. Spirits are high despite the fact that the climbers have been on the expedition for more than 40 days at this point, but the weather is expected to be bad for the next few days, so they’ll sit tight and wait for a window. Time may be of the essence however, as it is nearly August, and they still have a lot of work to do before a summit bid can begin. The question now is will K2 turn back all challengers once again this year?

Kraig Becker

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