Summer Climbs 2015: Calm Before The Storm

K2 Nordseite

The summer climbing season on the big mountains in the Himalaya, Karakoram, and elsewhere are just starting to ramp up. We know that the team of Mike Horn, Fred Roux and Köbi Reichen are already in Pakistan and preparing to start their trek to K2 Base Camp. They’ll soon be joined by a number of other climbers who are eyeing peaks in the region, including Broad Peak and Gasherbrum I and II. But at the moment it is the calm before the storm, as the teams anxiously prepare for their departures and the start of some big expeditions ahead.

Five-time Everest summiteer David Tait is headed for K2 as well. His website says that he’ll depart for Pakistan on Saturday of this week after overcoming a slew of logistical nightmares that includes extracting his climbing gear from Nepal while that country is still reeling from the earthquake that hit back on April 25. Tait, who is climbing with Himex, reports that their Sherpa and support team is already en route to BC, and will begin setting up camp within a few days. That means that everything will be ready for the squad once they arrive.

Also headed to K2 this summer is Vanessa O’Brien, who holds the female record for the fastest time completing the Seven Summits and the Adventure Grand Slam (Seven Summits plus North and South Pole). She’ll be climbing with Madison Mountaineering, but there is no indication of when that team will start to arrive in in country. Their schedule has to be similar to that of the other teams however, so look for dispatches to start sometime within the next week.

Chris Jensen Burke is headed back to Pakistan as well. She has unfinished business on Broad Peak after failing to reach the summit last year due to poor weather. She has spent much of the time since the Nepal earthquake working in that country to help raise funds and rebuild the shattered infrastructure there, but soon she will depart for BP as well.

Canadian climber Al Hancock was on Annapurna this spring when the earthquake hit, bringing an abrupt end to his expedition there. He’s also headed towards Broad Peak this summer, and will be climbing on the same permit as Jensen Burke. He is working on summiting all 14 of the 8000 meter peaks, and already has Everest (x2), Makalu, and K2 on his resume. If successful, he’ll be the first Canadian to accomplish that feat.

Meanwhile, ExWeb is reporting that a Czech team has set their sights on Gasherbrum I this summer with the hopes of opening a new route along the Southwest face. Marek Holecek and Tomas Petrecek will be making a third attempt on this challenging route, which Holecek attempt back in 2009 and 2013. There is no word on when the expedition will begin, but it is likely to get underway in the next week or so as well.

That’s all for now. The summer climbing season is just now starting to ramp up, so expect more updates soon. It should be another interesting one, with plenty to report from some of the most challenging mountains on the planet.

Kraig Becker