If you’ve been following the climbing scene in Pakistan over the past few days, you know that it has been a very busy time in the mountains there. This past weekend, more than 30 people reached the summit of K2 amidst good weather and great climbing conditions. The weather window hasn’t closed on that mountain yet, and other teams have now launched their summit bids, with an eye on reaching the top by the end of the week. Elsewhere, teams have started packing up to head home, as the end of the summer climbing season is now in sight.
Our friend Alan Arnette checked in from K2 Base Camp yesterday after he topped out early Sunday morning. While he hasn’t posted a summit report just yet, he did update his Facebook page with some details of the climb. Alan, along with the rest of his team, set out from Camp 4 at 10 PM local time on Saturday evening, and topped out around 8:30 AM the next morning. Part of the delay was due to a slight shift in the route following an avalanche on the Bottleneck, one of the more treacherous portions of the climb. Alan says that the entire climb to the top was incredibly steep as well, generally 60-70 degrees, but stretching up to 80-90 degrees on the Traverse. This only adds to K2’s difficulty of course, and further cements its reputation as the toughest mountain on the planet.
If that wasn’t enough, a meter of fresh snow fell on the slopes to the summit on Saturday, and the team had to take turns breaking trail on the way up. As a result, Alan reports that he was quite exhausted by the time he summited, and was experiencing some symptoms of dehydration and high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Fortunately, his teammates watched over him closely, and he was able to get up and down safely.
Now, the entire squad is back in BC and preparing to head home. After an exhausting climb, they face a 70 mile (112 km) trek back to Askole, where they’ll be able to drive to Skardu, before catching a plane to Islamabad, and eventually home. They are all exhausted, but relieved to have completed their expedition safely and successfully. I’m sure an enormous sense of satisfaction will follow, once they have had time to reflect on their accomplishment.
Over on Gasherbrum I and II, Turkish climber Tunć Findik has updated his status, and is now preparing to head home as well. After a successful climb on GII last week, the team has decided to pull the plug on an attempt on GI as well. It is starting to get late into the season, and conditions on the mountain were already treacherous, so they are packing up Base Camp and departing soon for Askole as well. You may recall that Findik was late getting to the mountain due to the changes in regulations that say all teammates must travel together at all times. That delay may have ended up costing him a chance at a second summit.
Finally, David Lama has updated his status on Facebook as well, announcing that he, and his squad, have abounded their attempt to summit Masherbrum. Apparently, the new route they were attempting to open on that mountain was just too difficult with the weather and conditions that were presented to them. David indicated that the team was feeling “devastated and relieved at the same time.”
There are still a few on going expeditions in the Karakoram at the moment, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on them over the next few days. For the most part though, the season is starting to wind down. It has been a successful one for sure, particularly on K2. Hopefully the teams that remain will find success as well, and get back down safely. More to follow.
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