Pakistan 2012: Teams Move Up!


Over the past few days the teams currently climbing in Pakistan have taken the opportunity to move up to higher altitudes to either acclimatize or begin their summit push. Weather is spotty across the region but progress is being made and the climbers are working their way ever closer to their goals.

The big push has begun on the Mazeno Ridge, where Sandy Allan, Rick Allen, and Cathy O’Dowd have started their ascent. They’ll need to conquer eight sub-summits of 7000 meters (22,965 ft) before they make their approach to the 8125 meter (26,657 ft) peak of Nanga Parbat. It will be a true test of endurance to say the least.

While on the approach the team won’t be posting blog updates but they are sharing progress via Cathy’s Twitter account. They set out yesterday and it seems that progress is slow thus far, but they are on the ridge at last and headed towards their eventual goal. If successful, they’ll be the first climbers to summit Nanga Parbat via the Mazeno route, which is the longest ridge of any 8000 meter peak. Stay tuned for more updates on this one.

On Broad Peak Al Hancock reports that some of his teammates have completed their rotation to Camp 2 where they spent the night as part of their acclimatization process. Some of those climbers have already headed back down to Base Camp, but Al remains there tonight as he continues to adapt to the thin air as well. He reports that yesterday he had a bout of stomach issues, not uncommon at altitude, which made his stay in C1 a bit uncomfortable. But moving up to C2 today he continues to climb well and is ready for the challenges ahead. Tomorrow he and his Pakistani guide will return to BC as well, and after resting for a few days they’ll repeat the process up to Camp 3. Once that is done, they’ll begin watching the sky for a weather window to the summit.

The Gasherbrum I team that includes Louis Rousseau and Annalisa Fioretti, have now established Camp 2 although doing so was not without its challenges. On the approach to that point, located at 6500 meters (21,325 ft) Louis actually fell into a crevasse up to his armpits. Apparently the nasty little surprise was well covered in snow and after their brush with near-disaster, the team took its time on the route, making sure they were finding all the hidden crevasses along the way.

The group was the first to build their C2 on GI and the following day proceeded up to Camp 3 as well. That took longer than expected as well as they continued to find crevasses the hard way, namely be falling in. At one point Louis discovered one whose bottom could not be seen, which was a tense and scary moment to say the least. But they continued up to the Japanese Couloir before turning back, and after spending another night in Camp 2, they returned to BC today.

Finally, the Hungarian squad on Gasherbrum I, also known as Hidden Peak, also report progress. They say that poor weather has hampered some progress over the past few days, but that then intend to move up today, carrying gear loads to Camp 2. Their weather reports that the next few days should be good, but after that the jet stream could move in once again and limit access above 7000 meters (22,965 ft). Before then they’ll try to get as much work done as possible before waiting out the weather once again.

It seems that we’re at the mid-point for many of these climbs and it will only be a matter of time before the team are ready for their push.

Kraig Becker