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BC Andalucia K2 'Casa Andalucía', July 23, 2004: LAST DEVELOPMENTS OF ANDALUCIA K2

As things have been developing, I think it would be good or really good, to try to realize the situation.  You have clear and objective information about fixed lines, high altitude carriers and plans of the expeditions who are trying to climb K2 this year, but we didn't give an approximate map of BC, which would be useful to get to a general idea of what is happening on the 50th anniversary of K2.

We are going to the high zone of the moraine, almost a kilometer from where we are now, to meet a group of Catalans headed by Oscar Cadiach who have the objective of climbing the Magic Line of K2.  In the next period of good weather they can get to what is known as the Pulpit, where they will install their last camp and they will continue without camps to the summit.  It's the expedition with the most interesting challenge, of those who are here.  In our modest opinion, if there is a group in Spain capable of going ahead with a challenge of these characteristics, it's them.

We continue going down and we meet Carlos Soria's group and just after them, the Basque group of Televisión Española (TVE), in a clear of the moraine and we get to the Tibetan-Korean expedition of cleaning who have got to C3 cleaning and the leave on the 28th. The Japanese who are trying the Cesen or Spanish route.  The English expedition that arrived a few days ago from Broad Peak and on the 21st one of their climbers had an accident at 5,500, being swept by an avalanche when he was climbing to C1.  The expedition organized by Kari Kobler in which the Italians from Cortina (Scoiattoli) are participating with the Swiss.  Then our BC a.k.a. 'Casa Andalucía', where we are giving medical assistance to all the Spanish expeditions and to many climbers and carriers of other expeditions.  The exotic point is the tent of a journalist from Hawaii.  We continue with the Japanese expedition to the Abruzzos.  The international expedition which is affectionately called the Pancho Villa Army, made by climbers of different nationalities, who are here alone or in small groups who contribute with little or no work along the route.  They just climb when the fixed line is installed, they use other expeditions' tents, most of them after asking for permission and in general they are the greatest expression of Himalaya spirit one can find today, in the most accessible mountains and the most commercial.  And at last, the expedition of expeditions: the Official Italian expedition for the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of K2; remember?: no high altitude carriers, no oxygen, no fixed lines.

Most of the expeditions have a common plan, based on the disappointing weather forecasts we have that announce too much instability and a change to clear skies with high altitude winds.  So we patiently wait since days ago at BC, to have a period of at least 3 days of slow winds (less than 20 kilometers per hour) above 8,000 meters and reasonable wind to get to C3.  Last July 20th the Japanese expedition sent their Sherpas and some climbers, to try to get to C4 and leave a depot of tents and materials which would leave them in the same situation as Kari Kobler's and Carlos Soria's expeditions and ours.  The strong wind did not let them pass C2 and the Sherpas were quitting yesterday.  5 climbers will try again today to continue to C3.  We can't confirm but it is possible that the Tibetan climbers are in the same situation.  It has snowed heavily this night and we are afraid that this will make their activities more difficult.

The international group has climbers stuck in C2, who plan to retrieve the materials because they will leave on the 25th.  While almost everybody is joining forces to have one opportunity on the mountain, there are two expeditions who have preferred to use their strength in a summit attempt, Sunday 24th (their forecasts announce 10-15 Km/h.  Ours says 25-40 Km/h, all with clear skies).  All the plans are respectable but not agreeable, we really hope that Juanito, Edurne, Mikel... have all the luck in the world, but... we fear that they will find: strong winds up to C3, waist deep snow between 7,350 m. and 8,000 m., to get to C4 and what is already known: the Bottleneck and the Trek.  I forgot, winds of 40 Km/h at 8,000 m. can get worse.  For us these are not the right forecasts to go to the summit of K2, although I should confess that it is not all about forecasts.

About the members of the other expeditions, I don't know what to think. A phone conversation was intercepted yesterday in which one expedition told the climbers at C2 to use: tents, food and gas of the another expedition. Last year I saw some of the mort beautiful moments of my sports life, with just a few stains, made by climbers who are now in the International expedition; but what these people are doing is almost a crime.  I feel ashamed as a climber and as a sportsman.

In the current circumstances one can begin to tell that for one more year, K2's summit will not be reached.  It could be 3 years and let's hope that K2 will increase its climbing interest.  The last time that the summit was reached was in 2001, thanks to carriers and Sherpas of a Korean man, who used oxygen to fix the lines on the Bottleneck and the Trek, so that many other famous climbers could later pass, who has very pure ascent plans.  It looks like they declined the invitation of the Korean to help in the fixing of the lines.

Luckily, next year K2 will still be that great mountain in which great moments of Himalayan spirit will be lived, and I envy from now those who will have the chance to attempt it.



Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera


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