Yesterday I noted that history was being made on Broad Peak where the Polish team made the first winter ascent of that mountain. Four members of the squad, Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski and Artur Małek managed to top out between 5:30 and 6:00 PM local time. It was a moment of triumph and happiness for a team that has struggled long and hard to get that one opportunity to stand at the 8051 meter (26,414 ft) summit. Unfortunately, that feeling wouldn’t last.
I also said in yesterday’s report that the summit was only the halfway point and we all needed to keep our fingers crossed that everyone got off the mountain safely. In the latest dispatch from the team, Artur Małek and Adam Bielecki had made it into Camp 4 and were resting there for the night following a very long day on the upper slopes. Meanwhile, we were told that Tomasz Kowalski and Maciej Berbeka bivouacking 7900 meters (25,918 ft), presumably because they were too exhausted to continue further down. That same report claimed that Shaheen Baig and Amin Ullah were headed up the mountain to assist the climbers down.
Since that dispatch was sent, ExWeb has reported that Tomasz and Maciej may be missing on the mountain. As is common when trying to coordinate communications from such remote places, stories are a bit conflicting. It seems that Maciej may still be descending after spending the night bivouacked at 7900 meters but Tomasz may not be with him. Exactly where either of the men are at the moment remains a mystery. We do know that the entire team is complete exhausted and in need of assistance, which is why the high altitude porters are on their way up to help.
It may be another day or so before we hear definitive word on the condition and location of the four climbers. Lets continue to think positive and hope they get down in one piece. Winter in the Karakoram is a harsh season and this weather window was always expected to be a narrow one. Hopefully the conditions will hold up a little longer to allow them to get back to BC safely.
Fingers crossed once again.