Pakistani Climbing Season Ramps Up on K2 and Elsewhere

1024px K2 2006b

Before I took off for Outdoor Press Camp last week, the climbing season in the Karakoram was just starting to heat up. Now, most of the teams have settled in to Base Camp on their respective mountains, and are preparing to begin their acclimatization efforts. Right now, it looks like it will be quite a busy summer season, as more commercial teams head to K2 and Broad Peak in particular.

Speaking of K2, Venessa O’Brien is back this year to make another attempt on the mountain. This is her third attempt on that particular peak, which has a summit that remains elusive to even some of the best climber in the world. According to reports, Vanessa and her teammates, led by Dreamers Destinations, arrived in BC yesterday and are now getting settled. They’ll soon be joined by a team of Himex climbers as well, as the commercialization of K2 continues.

A number of the squads that are focused on K2 this season will first tune up on Broad Peak, where things are already starting to get interesting. According to Alan Arnette, the Furtenbach Adventures has already spent the night at Camp 3 as part of their acclimatization schedule, which should put them on track to perhaps launch  a summit bid later this week, weather permitting of course. Spaniard Oscar Cadiach is also in Base Camp on BP, where some reports indicate that there is heavy snow on the higher sections of the mountain, which could make things difficult and stall out any potential plans for now as well.

Over on Nanga Parbat, summit bids were already underway this past weekend, but poor weather forced teams to turn back. According to ExWeb, Korean climber Kim HongBin reached Camp 4 on Saturday, but poor conditions forced him and his team to descend back to C3, and then eventually Base Camp as they wait for things to improve. That group of climbers was focused on the Kinshofer Route, but a similar report comes from the Mazeno Ridge, where Alberto Zerain and Mariano Galvan were reportedly forced to halt their progress too. The duo made it has high as 6100 meters (20,013 feet) before they were forced to bivouac, but it is unclear if they have the supplies needed to continue upward, or if they will now descend back to BC to wait for another weather window.

Meanwhile, on Gasherbrum I and II, teams have begun to settle into Base Camp as well. Most are still getting settled, although a few climbers have now launched their first acclimatization rotations as they prepare for the challenges ahead. While still very difficult peaks due to the altitude, Alan is quick to point out that the mountains area amongst the more accessible of the big 8000-meter hills in the Karakoram.

That’s he quick update on where things currently stand on the summer expeditions to the big mountains. I’ll post more news as the season continues to develop. Right now, we’re still a few weeks away from summit pushes on K2, but the other mountains in the region should continue to be very active.

Kraig Becker