In delayed reporting from K2 base camp here are several updates
We spent this morning having a play with the new oxygen system, checking how
it all fits together and trying out the nasal canular & mask.
The plan so far is that in the next couple of days we will go back up the hill
with the intention of getting to camp 3 and then possibly make a summit
attempt. I have decided to take the oxygen up with me and make my decision
weather to use it at camp 3. Although Broad Peak is only just over 8000m
(8047m), we have only had a short time at altitude, so oxygen may be necessary
if an attempt is made so soon. Otherwise we will stay at Camp 3 for a night
and then descend to BC in order to make a later summit bid. Regards,
02/07/04: The weather was still reasonable, so I made it
a bit of a wash day clothes & self, which was sorely needed. Did a little bit
of light reading and generally just chilled out.
The porters give us some entertainment in the evening with more songs
accompanied this time with not just barrel drums but with a three piece goat
skin timpani set. It appears that not a single bit of the poor old Billie has
01/07/04: We spent two nights at camp 2 before heading
back down to Base Camp for 3 days rest. The descent wasn't too bad, however
the sun was very hot and it made for thirsty work. The fixed line in the
couloirs was fixed a bit too tight so abseiling was not practical and required
some trusty hand wrapping to descend.
It was good to get back to BC and gorge ourselves on Pringles & Pepperami and
a bottle of Pepsi.
30/06/04: The Sherpas made a carry & help fix line
towards camp 3 with the Swiss (c7000m - 7200m); unfortunately deep snow
prevented them getting any further than 6700m, so a stash was made there. We
had a bit of a lazy day adjusting to the altitude. We all had a bit of a short
walk, Ralph & myself pushed up to 6415m at which point the snow ridge angle
29/06/04: Another early start, this time heading to camp
2 at 6200m. Again due to the previous week's snow conditions, most of the
fixed line was buried. The terrain is mainly 45 - 50 degree snow slopes, with
the odd steep section.
Navigation down would be very difficult in bad weather if there were no ropes;
thankfully folk are clearing the ropes when they head down.
I got into camp at 10.00am; gps height read just over 6300m. Again the next
problem was to find suitable places for the tents. This we finally managed
after 3 hours digging and clearing. Once again space for tents on the ridge is
few and far between, teams have to spread out thin, looking for any sheltered
28/06/04: Today we finally set off for camp 1 on broad
peak. The weather was good; we had breakfast at 4.00am, a very unsociable hour
of the day. There were a few teams that were heading up today. We had some
delays due to anchors on some of the fixed line. The route itself goes up
through reasonably steep couloirs, topping out at around 5200m. Camp 1 was
said to be at 5400m, however it was obvious from the top of the couloirs that
it was much higher.
From the couloirs we headed up a 45 degree snow field, there was a lot of
avalanche debris from the heavy snows the previous week. It was only after two
thirds of the way up we found the fixed line which had been buried by the
I finally rolled into camp at 10.00am, a bit dehydrated due to my camelback
freezing in the early hours.
Dave had been ahead and when I arrived I helped to clear and enlarge the tent
platforms. We just managed to get 3 cramped tents onto our ledge; space at
camp 1 is a bit of a premium especially with so many teams on the mountain
climbing Sherpa from Nepal)
climbing Sherpa from Nepal)
Two years have passed since
the decision was made to attempt K2. We had summited on Everest on the 16th
May 2002 and had vowed never to set foot on another 8000m peak after the
months of discomfort and the debilitating effect of altitude on mind and body.
We arrived in Kathmandu a few
days later already thinking of the next mountain, K2 was the ultimate if scary
In three weeks we fly to
Pakistan, to Islamabad and all the reading and dreaming and training is at an
end and the hard work will start in earnest.
In this unknown city we will have to go through the rigmarole of finding our
freight at the airport, not a short process normally, signing the last minute
papers necessary to move onwards and deal with all the little problems
associated with moving four climbers and equipment to Skardu and then on to
the Broad peak base camp. We hope to fly to Skardu but may have to drive if
the weather is poor.
When we arrive at Skardu we
will need to employ a number of porters and mules to carry the equipment for
the eight to ten days that it will take to get firstly to the Broad Peak Base
camp. We will walk to Askole and from there along the Braldu River to the
Boltoro Glacier until we reach Concordiaat 4720m. A short walk up the Godwin
Austin Glacier towards K2 will bring us to the base of Broad Peak and base
camp (4900m) for the first objective.
Broad Peak is the 12th
highest mountain in the world at 8047m. It was first climbed in 1957 in
'alpine style' by an Austrian team. They were thwarted on the first attempt by
a false summit and had to return a second time to climb it. We plan to place
camps at 5400m, 6250m and finally at 7200m. From here we will push up to the
summit ridge and follow this over the fore summit fixing some pinnacle
sections to the summit. Although the mountain is an 'easier' 8000m mountain
the summit day will still be in excess of 12 hours and will be a real test at
K2 is the second highest
mountain in the world at 8616m and is variously called the 'killer' mountain,
'the climbers' mountain, and the 'most difficult' of the 8000m mountains. It
gets this reputation from the weather, which is unpredictable, the technical
difficulties, objective dangers such as stone fall and avalanche and the
problems associated with cold and altitude. It has not been climbed for three
years. This is our second objective.
We will establish Base camp
at about 5200m on the Boltoro glacier before pushing the route up the mountain
to Camp 1 at 6100m. Above this camp is the notorious 'Bills' or 'Houses'
Chimney, which is the crux technically. This is climbed to camp 2 at 6700m,
which lies below the Black Pyramid - a broken, steep rocky section that is
often very difficult if the conditions are poor. Camp 3 above this lies on
snow at about 7200m, although the position of this camp varies from year to
year and from team to team. The shoulder is a long snowy glacier with some
large crevasses which although not technically difficult is very tiring and in
poor weather route finding up and down this section can be very difficult if
not impossible. Camp 4 lies as high on this, anywhere between 7600m and 8000m.
Once this camp has been established the team can push on to attempt the
Very early in the morning
(11.00pm/12.00am) we will set out up snow slopes to the 'bottle neck'. This is
a narrow gully about 100m in length, which gradually steepens and is at an
altitude of about 8300m. In dry years it can be very steep and be 80 degrees.
This ends at a hanging glacier, which must be traversed under until the final
summit slopes can be gained. The sting in the tail is a rocky step just before
the summit. If all goes well we would hope to be on the summit in the early
This is the plan!
Chris Mothersdale May 2004.
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