Karakoram 2011: K2 Team Descending To Camp 1


With their successful summit of K2 now behind them, the team of Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Maxut Zumayev, Vassiliy Pivtsov and Darek Zaluski have been working hard to get back down the mountain safely. Today, they hope to descend as far as Camp 1, then finish their descent tomorrow, and start the long trek back home.

After a very long day of climbing yesterday, Gerlinde and Darek were able to make their way back to Camp 4, where they spent the night. Max and Vassiliy stayed in an intermediate camp above C4, but all four climbers headed down early this morning. According to their latest dispatches, they regrouped in Camp 3, where Gerlinde was waiting with  hot soup on the stove. After a brief rest there, they continued the descent, with the ultimate goal of reaching C1.

Tomorrow, they’ll clean up all of their gear in Camp 1, then make their way down to their Base Camp, where Ralf Dujmovits and Tommy Henrich are already waiting and have most of their gear packed. From there, they’ll spend another 3.5 hours descending to the Chinese Base Camp, where a team of porters are waiting with camels to help pack the gear back out to civilization. If all goes according to plan, they should be off the mountain and on their way home by Friday at the latest.

The descent is still a treacherous one, but they have passed the most demanding sections now and should arrive in Camp 1 today without too many problems. The worst of the climb is behind them, and it won’t be long until they can get some real rest.

Kraig Becker