Karakoram 2011: K2 Team Splits, Four Have Summit Dreams


The drama unfolding on K2 continues today with the news that the international team on the North Side of the mountain has now split into two units, with four climbers heading up to Camp II, while the rest abandon their climb and return to Base Camp.

According to a dispatch from Maxut Zhumayev this morning, the climbers moved up to an intermediate camp located at 6100 meters (20,013 ft) on the mountain. It was tough climbing as there is a lot of snow above Camp I, which ultimately forced them to stop short of their goal for the day, which was CII. Joining Max on the climb is fellow Kazakh and long time climbing partner Vassily Pivtsov, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, and Darek Zaluski.

Gerlinde’s home team posted an update to her blog as well, noting that her long time climbing partner (and husband), Ralf Dujmovits has given up his attempt to summit K2 this year and is headed back down the mountain. He is joined by Tommy Henrich as well. Apparently, Ralf felt that the danger of avalanche was too great for him to proceed any higher.

The post also says that the four climbers have been making very slow progress thanks to the steady snows that have been falling all day. They’ll now stay at the “rocky shoulder” and rest, before further evaluating their next move.

The weather forecasts indicated that conditions would improve as the week moved along, with a possible window opening over the weekend. They did expect some snow in the early part of the climb, but it sounds like they are getting far more than they had expected. Whether or not they’ll actually get a chance at the summit remains to be seen, but it isn’t looking all that promising at the moment, as they’ve also fallen off their schedule for a Sunday summit as well.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this team to top out, but as we all know, K2 is not a mountain to take lightly. The conditions sound dicey at best, but things can change quickly. We’ll now have to wait until tomorrow to see if they have a chance at moving higher.

Kraig Becker