Karakoram 2011: Summit Bids In Progress


Teams on both Broad Peak and the Gasherbrums have been waiting on a weather window to materialize, and while conditions were not great over the weekend, the forecast for the week ahead is a promising one, which has prompted some to begin their summit push, while others take a wait-and-see approach.

According to Rob Springer, who is climbing as part of the Field Touring Alpine squad, the team started their bid on BP yesterday, with the climbers heading up to Camp 2. Rob says that a lot of snow has fallen in the area in recent days, so breaking trail is going to be tough, but the team is ready to make an attempt while the weather holds out. If all goes as planned, they should have arrived in Camp 3 today, where they’ll rest for a day and a half before hopefully topping out on Wednesday of this week.

Not everyone is confident in the weather however, as the latest dispatch from the Altitude Junkies indicates that they plan to stay in Base Camp and let things settle down before heading up. They are particularly nervous about the snows above Camp 2, which could be treacherous considering how much accumulation they’ve seen the past few days. The team is hoping the sun will show itself soon to help melt and solidify the situation.

Staying on Broad Peak, the British BP team arrived in Base Camp on Friday and will now begin their acclimatization process as well. They noted that even the trek in was more challenging than they thought, and that heavy snows are making it difficult to go anywhere at the moment. They attempted to make their first run up to Camp 1 in hopes of carrying gear and building their first caches, but they turned back halfway to their goal due to knee deep snow. They’re hoping to give it another go tomorrow however, with the entire team pitching in.

Over on the Gasherbrums, there are similar stories to these. The weather has continued to be a challenge but some teams are hoping to make a summit push this week. Those include Alex Txikon’s team, who hope to top out on Wednesday and  Gerfried Göschl group, which has reached Camp 2 today. Gerfried reports that the weather was treacherous all the way up, but looks to improve tomorrow, hopefully allowing them to go to the summit.

Not everyone has found success in the Karakoram this summer, as the Kobler team has left the Gasherbrums simply because they ran out of time. Bad weather prevented them from getting any higher than Camp 2, and now they have to depart in order to catch flights back home. Other teams are in a similar boat throughout the region, which means it is now or never for some of the climbers.

Meanwhile, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner has checked in from BC on K2. She and her team arrived their early in the month, and have been busy setting up camp ever since. They have established their ABC at 4650 meters (15,255 ft), which is about halfway between the traditional BC (or “Italian Camp”) and ABC (“Chinese Camp”). Apparently, the porters they hired found the work far too difficult, and threatened to quit, so they compromised on where the gear would be carried to. At the moment, Gerlinde, Ralf, and the rest of the team are back in BC and watching the weather, as the snow continues to fall on K2 as well. It is going to be another very rough and challenging season on that mountain it seems.

Kraig Becker