Karakoram Summer 2018: Individual Expeditions to Keep an Eye On

7 15 BroadPeak

Yesterday we shared a few updates from the Karakoram about the current status of a few teams that have already started to arrive on their respective mountains. Most of the squads are still en route, but a few are already in Base Camp and have started getting settled into their routine and launched their first acclimatization rotations. Other commercial squads will soon be joining them as activity in the mountain of Pakistan continues to ramp up. Today, I’ll share a few smaller expeditions that will be taking place in the weeks ahead and have a quick look at some individuals who have big plans this summer.

First, we’ve already been following Mike Horn’s attempt on Nanga Parbat. He arrived in BC more than a week ago already and has headed up the mountain to Camp 2 for acclimatizing. Horn is a well known Swiss explorer of South African descent who has an extensive adventure resume that includes skiing solo to the South Pole and sailing the Southern Ocean last year. At some point, he intends to make an attempt at a solo expedition across the Arctic Ice Cap as well, but for now he is committed to climbing Nanga Parbat this summer.

Polish climber Andrzej Bargiel is returning to K2 this year, but he has bigger plans than just summiting the “Savage Mountain.” As with last year, Bargiel hopes to reach the top of the world’s second highest peak, then make the first ski descent of the mountain. Last year he was forced to abandon his efforts due to the threat of avalanche, but he’s hoping that things will go more his way this time out. Bargiel already has ski descents of Broad Peak and Shishapangma on his resume, so another 8000-meter peak is not out of the question, although K2 will pose some different challenges.

ExWeb is reporting that Austrian climber Hansjörg Auer is on his way to the Karakoram, but isn’t attempting any of the main peaks. Instead, he’ll have a go at Lupghar Sar West, a 7181 meter (23,559 ft) peak that his well known for its technical difficulty. As usual, Auer will climb solo, with just a very small support team to assist him in Base Camp. The Austrian tells ExWeb that no one has visited Lupghar Sar since 2000, which means the chances of him running into another team are practically nonexistent.

Swedish climber Fredrik Sträng has returned to K2 once again this year. He has visited the mountain on more than one occasion in the past and was there in 2008 when 11 people passed away. As of today, he has not left for Pakistan yet, but will be making his way to the Karakoram soon.  Meanwhile, Adam Bielecki is joined by Jacek Czech and Felix Berg this summer, with the trio heading to the Gasherbrum Massif. They’ll first have a go at GII before attempting a completely new route on GIV.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of expeditions taking place across the mountains of Pakistan this summer and the commercial squads haven’t stolen all of the thunder. While we’ll be keeping a close eye on the progress of those larger teams, it are the smaller squads like these that will be doing the more impressive, groundbreaking stuff.

Kraig Becker