Pakistan 2013: Teams Go To Work


The summer Pakistani climbing season is starting to get a bit busier as more teams are now arriving in their respective base camps and have started the acclimatization process. After spending days trekking to their start positions, most are only now getting settled and turning their attention to the task at hand. Much like climbing Everest, or one of the other big Himalayan peaks in Nepal or Tibet, they’ll now proceed to build a series of high camps and stock them with gear in preparation for an eventual summit pushes. But we’re a long way from that and there is still a lot of work to be done.

Of course, the crown jewel of climbing in Pakistan – if not the world – is K2 and as usual there are a number of talented teams who will be testing themselves on what is arguably the toughest mountain in the world to climb. Amongst them is the three-man squad of Mike Horn, Fred Roux and Kobi Reichen who intend to climb in alpine style and without bottled oxygen. Weather permitting, Mike and Fred also hope to paraglide from the summit, but that remains a pipe dream at point. The three men arrived in Islamabad a week ago and there has been little word on their progress thus far. Presumably they are on their way to Base Camp at the moment along with a slew of other teams.

Also returning to K2 this year is Canadian climber Al Hancock who is on the same expedition as Adrian Hayes. Al attempted K2 last year but was forced to turn back due to bad weather. He’s hoping his fortunes will be better this time out. The team will gather in Pakistan this Friday and intend to depart for Skardu on Sunday.

Basque climber Alex Txikon will be joined by his climbing partners Ferran Latorre and Felix Garcia on K2 this summer as well. They arrived in Pakistan this past weekend and are now en route to BC. They’re being followed closely by an 8-person, all-Japanese team that is led by 46-year old Kitamura Seiichi. An international squad, consisting mostly of climbers from Australia and New Zealand are also headed to the mountain. Elsewhere, the teams have already started working their routes. For instance, the German team on Broad Peak arrived in BC last week and has slowly watched a small tent-city spring up around them as other teams arrive. Base Camp is located at 4800 meters (15,748 ft) and the team has already established Camp 1 at 5700 meters (18,700 ft). At the moment they’re focused on shuttling gear to Camp 2, where they’ll also acclimatize for a few nights. Once they’ve finished that process, they’ll already have climbed as high as 6400 meters (20,997 ft). 

A team of Polish climbers is en route to Broad Peak after arriving in Pakistan over the weekend. Their objective is not to climb to the summit necessarily but instead they hope to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades –Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski – who died while making the first winter ascent of the mountain. This expedition will be a difficult one for all involved, even if they don’t go to the summit. Maciej’s brother Jacek is on the team and he will no doubt wrestle with a lot of emotions while on the mountain. 
Over on Nanga Parbat, poor weather has made for tough going so far. A Romanian team has established Advanced Base Camp and climbed to C1 last week on the Rupal Face. But heavy snow has put a halt to their efforts for now. Other teams on the Diamir route have faced similar weather conditions, which has made it very difficult to fix ropes for those climbing on that side of the mountain.
Teams are now approaching Base Camp on the Gasherbrums too, with several squads targeting either GI, GII or both mountains. Amongst them is the Polish team of Artur Hajzer and Marcin Kaczkan who are still making their way to the massif. They will be attempting the double-summit this summer for sure. Also, it seems paragliding may be the new craze in mountaineering, as ExWeb has an interview with Sofie Lenaerts who hopes to make a slol flight from GII later in the season. 
More news to come in the days ahead. The Pakistani climbing season is still ramping up and it should prove quite interesting as we get deeper into it. 
Kraig Becker