Karakoram 2011: Summits On GI!

800px Gasherbrum group

As mentioned earlier in the week, a projected weather window has indeed opened in the Karakoram, bringing clear skies and a temporary respite from the high winds and snow that have been prevalent there for the past few weeks. Because of this, several teams who moved up to high camps a few days back, have been in position to take advantage of the change in weather, with a few summits taking place at last.

Among those topping out today are Gerfried Goschl and Hans Wenzl, who reached the summit of Gasherbrum I this morning. They were joined at the summit by Basque climber Carlos Tamayo as well, reaching the top in 7.5 hours from Camp 3. Also checking in from the summit is Alex Txikon, who reports that in addition to the names above, Louis Rousseau, and Juanra Madariaga have successfully reached the 8080 meter (26,509 ft) summit.

Congrats to everyone who reached the top! A number of these climbers will now go on to K2 for an attempt at a second 8000 meter peak this summer.

Meanwhile, over on Broad Peak, the Field Touring Alpine squad checked in and reported that the weather was better, but due to the heavy snow on the higher slopes, they were sitting out this summit bid in favor of another one that is expected to come next week. They’re hoping that the extra time will help to allow the snow to settle, making it easier to avoid avalanches and safer all around. They’re staying put in Base Camp for now.

The Altitude Junkies are in a similar position, and are waiting for next week’s weather window as well. They climbed up to Camp 1 yesterday just to survey the situation, and report that there were a number of teams on the mountain, including two making their summit bids right now. Other teams had just arrived in BC and were starting their first acclimatization rotations during the current spell of good weather. The winds are expected to pick-up over the weekend, sending everyone back down the mountain, but good weather is in the forecast for next week, when they’ll make their attempt at the top.

There are several teams using BP as their acclimatization climb before heading to K2 as well. I’m sure they’re all eager to finish up and head to that peak, where everyone is still waiting for good weather while they fix lines, build camps, and get use to the altitude. After a two year drought, perhaps someone will finally stand on top of that mountain again.

Kraig Becker