If you read yesterday’s update from the Karakoram you probably already know that many of the teams there have either launched their summit bids on K2 or will soon head up the mountain. The weather conditions there continue to be very good and the forecast looks promising into the weekend, which has caused even more climbers to join the march to the top. It now seems that the major push will come over the next few days and if everything goes according to plan, we could see a record number of summits before the end of the week.
Right now, the biggest obstacle for the K2 climbers is the fact that the ropes haven’t been fixed to the summit as of yet. The team responsible for installing the lines hopes to rectify that today having moved up from Camp 3 to C4 earlier. They brought the last of the ropes with them and now hope to clear the route all the way to the top, possibly opening it up by as early as tomorrow. That would mean that some of the stronger and faster squads, such as Mike Horn and Fred Roux, could potentially summit soon there after, possibly within in minutes of the Sherpas fix the ropes. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but the big commercial squads are still a few days behind, so the possibilities of the first summits coming within the next day or two seem high.
When we checked in with the Madison Mountaineering team yesterday they were wrapping up a practice season with their bottled oxygen systems in Base Camp. Today, they have posted a clearer schedule of how they expect things to unfold over the next few days, providing us with an idea of what the team leaders are thinking at the moment. If things stay on track, they’ll climb up to Camp 2 today, then C3 on Wednesday, before getting into position at C4 on Thursday. From there, provided the weather holds, they’ll make the final summit push on Friday and hope to be back in BC by Saturday. Presumably, Furtenbach Adventures is on a similar schedule having just sent their team up the hill too.
The Seven Summit Treks team is starting to head up as well, although they’ll go in waves. With more than 60 climbers on K2 this season, the plan is to stagger things out a bit. Still, most of the climbers on that squad should be in position for Friday or Saturday summits as well, which means the route could be very crowded. There won’t be nearly as many climbers as we saw on Everest this past spring, but with more technical ascents and narrower routes, we could see significant traffic jams in certain areas. Hopefully this won’t lead to any unforeseen issues, but it is something to be aware of as the major push gets going.
Elsewhere, things are starting to head up as well. Several teams are wrapping up their acclimatization on the Gasherbrum, while Kobler & Partner is reporting success on Broad Peak. The company says that at least 23 of its team members topped out there, including Dani Arnold, Billi Bierling, and Carolin Hess. Turkish climber Tunç Findic was one of the alpinists who found success on Gasherbrum I, notching his 13th 8000-meter peak. According to Alan Arnette, Findic needs just Nanga Parbat to add his name to the list of mountaineers who have summited all 8000-meter mountains.
That’s all for today. I’ll be watching the K2 expeditions closely over the next few days and provide updates as things happen. Hold on tight, it’s about to get very interesting.