Pakistan 2014: Summit Push Begins on K2, Broad Peak, and Gasherbrum II

K2 Nordseite

While I was off on a little adventure of my own on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the climbers in Pakistan have been busy preparing for summit bids in the Himalaya and Karakoram. Most have now wrapped up their acclimatization efforts, and have launched their summit bids in ernest. Over the next few days, they will be pushing themselves to the limit with the hopes of reaching the summit on their respective mountains, including the most difficult peak in the world – K2.

Over the past few days, Alan Arnette has continued to release a string of dispatches sharing his experiences on K2. He reported that heavy snow and high winds have made things challenging, even in Base Camp, where avalanches were a regular occurrence. But the weather is expected to improve starting today, with favorable conditions expected to last into next week. That is an unusually long weather window for K2, so everyone is hoping to take advantage of it, even if they haven’t had a chance to complete their full acclimatization rotations.

Alan, and the rest of his team, will leave BC today to begin their summit push. Over the next few days he’ll be proceeding upwards to each of the successive camps with the hopes of reaching C4 on Saturday, then going for the summit in the early hours of Sunday. He’ll provide brief updates on his progress while he can, but all of his efforts will be focused on climbing this “Mountaineer’s Mountain” over the next few days.

He won’t be alone in his efforts to reach the summit. Al Hancock and Adrian Hayes have also began their summit bids. They have had the opportunity to fully acclimatize, and are now ready to stand on the summit. Since they have spent some time at Camp 3 already, they’ll have an accelerated schedule, with the hope of topping out on Friday or Saturday of this week. The duo will release no further dispatches until they return from the summit push, as they’ll now leave behind any unnecessary gear to move faster and lighter, and carry more important items with them.

Chris Jensen Burke has also launched her summit bid. You may recall, she warmed up on Broad Peak, acclimatizing on that mountain, and moved over to K2 last week after a failed summit bid on BP. With her acclimatization process wrapped up however, she now feels strong enough to go for the top of K2. Chris will leave for the summit today, with the hopes of reaching that point on Saturday. She reports that rope fixing efforts on the Bottleneck and the Traverse are still underway, but there is good cooperation amongst the teams. Good weather will make things a bit more secure, but she says there are still some concerns about soft snow around Camp 3, which could cause issues.

Over on Broad Peak, the climbers are ready to take advantage of the long weather window as well. Unlike on K2, the teams are well acclimatized, and have been waiting for this opportunity for some time. BP being a much less challenging mountain has allowed them to use an abbreviate schedule, and as a result, most of the teams hope to be in Camp 3 today, and make their summit bid tomorrow. If successful, it will be the first summits of the season on the mountain, which has had some poor weather early in the season, but condition seem to support plenty of success in the days ahead.

On Masherbrum, there has been little word from David Lama and his squad. Presumably, they are busy working away on the very difficult face they have chosen to climb, but there is little to report on their progress. The few dispatches that they have released have hardly mentioned their status. Hopefully they’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of the weather window too, and we’ll learn more about their efforts in the days ahead.

Finally, Turkish climber Tunç Findik has already launched his summit bid on Gasherbrum II. He, and his teammates, left Base Camp yesterday and are hoping to top out on Thursday. Their weather window is not quite so long, but the team is ready, and they are looking to take advantage of any opportunity that comes their way. Once this climb is wrapped up, Findik also hopes to make an attempt on Gasherbrum I as well.

Stay tuned. It should be a very busy week in the mountains of Pakistan. Lets hope everyone gets up and down the mountains safely. The weather will be in their favor, but these are still some difficult peaks.

Kraig Becker