Pakistan 2012: Playing The Waiting Game

800px Nanga Parbat 029

It has been another difficult few days in the big mountains of Pakistan where the teams continue to prep for their summit pushes and the weather remains as unpredictable as ever. The methodical acclimatization process is taking its toll but each rotation gets them closer to their goal and tunes their body for the challenges ahead.

One of those teams is already on their summit push and have been so for the past week. Sandy Allan, Rick Allen, and Cathy O’Dowd make up the Mazeno Ridge Team who are attempting to summit Nanga Parbat by way of the longest ride of any of the 8000 meter peaks. They’ve now spent the past seven days above 7000 meters and they’re on the final approach to the top of Mazeno Peak itself. It hasn’t been easy however as they report copious amounts of very soft snow that is very unstable and exhausting to wade through. At the moment they team says they are focused on getting to the top of Mzeno and then they’ll turn their attention towards NP itself.

On Gasherbrum I, Louis Rousseau and his teammates, including Annalisa Fioretti, are having a very difficult time due to the high winds and powdery there. Shuttling gear up to Camp 3 has been very challenging indeed and Louis says that it has been one of the most difficult climbs of his career thus far. The snow was so soft at points that when the climbers would sink in they were unsure if it was simply the snow itself or a crevasse opening underneath them. That made for a very unnerving and tiring climb to say the least. Their weather reports say that the winds will keep the summit out of reach until at least July 14, which means they could begin their push late this week at which time all of the climbers on GI will work together to top out.

Al Hancock has checked in from Broad Peak this morning as well. He’s back in Base Camp after spending a few days up the hill in Camp 2. He says the weather is absolutely unpredictable right now with lots of snow and cold temperatures. Al says that the descent from C2 to BC was a quick one, but it was a challenge as well. He and his Sherpa guide had a rope break and a piton come free from the rocks, reminding them that they have to stay vigilant and aware at every stage of the climb. After spending a few days resting, the team will now watch the weather and wait to see when they can begin their summit push.

The Field Touring Alpine team is in the same position at the moment. Waiting in Base Camp to see when they’ll get their opportunity. The weather will dictate the schedule moving forward but it seems that they are ready to move up as well.

We should know a lot more about summit schedules later in the week. It looks like this coming weekend could be the start of the push across the region.

Kraig Becker