Karakoram 2011: Weather Window Slammed Shut

280px 7 15 BroadPeak

Heading into the week, all of the weather forecasts indicated that there would be a couple of days of great weather in the Karakoram, which could give some of the teams a chance at their respective summits. But the weather in the mountains is fickle to say the least, and it now seems that that window won’t open after all, which means the teams will continue to wait, while Mother Nature ponders their fate.

The British Broad Peak team posted an update his morning that confirms that high winds and generally poor conditions have hit the upper-reaches of the mountain. The team had hoped to make a summit bid early next week, but their advance team was turned back from Camp 1 yesterday, and the long range forecasts are ominous to say the least. They’ll hold position for the next week, and hope for the best, although things aren’t looking all that promising at the moment.

Meanwhile, the Brits say that two of the commercial teams on BP have decided to call it quits and head home. Amongst them is the Altitude Junkies, who haven’t mentioned their immanent departure on their own website yet, although their last dispatch does mention the incredibly high winds that are buffeting the mountain at the moment.

The Field Touring Alpine squad sent out an audio dispatch yesterday and confirmed that echos the reports of bad weather on Broad Peak, and across the Karakoram actually. But their forecasts seem to indicate that another window could open early next week, which could give them one last crack at the summit. After that, it’s on to K2, where their camps are already being built and supplies are being delivered.

Speaking of K2, there hasn’t been a whole lot of news coming out of Base Camp there, so we can only assume that everyone is too busy establishing their high camps and acclimatizing to the altitude. There are a number of teams on the mountain already, but I haven’t received many dispatches from any of them for awhile now. The focus in the Karakoram will soon shift to that mountain, as traditionally the early part of August is when climbers make their summit pushes on that incredibly tough peak. Earlier this week, Maxut Zhumayev did mention that his team was in the process of establishing camp at 7100-7400 meters (24,000 ft) but there was no word on when summit pushes would begin.

Finally, Alberto Zerain has climbed up to Camp 1 on Nanga Parbet, where he is keeping a close eye on the weather. It has been incredibly bad there as well, with lots of wind and rain, but it appears that there may be a summit window opening now, and he hopes to be in position to take advantage of it should it happen.

It seems no matter which mountain you visit, it is always the same story. We are all at the mercy of the weather.

Kraig Becker