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  United Kingdom British K2 & Broad Peak Expedition 2004 Update 3


In delayed reporting from K2 base camp here are several updates

03/07/04: 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,
Stu.

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 been wasted.

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 eases off.

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 areas.

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 avalanches.

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 this year.

Dispatches

Background

K2/Broadpeak Expedition 2004

K2 Team  
Dave Pritt (Expedition leader)
Chris Mothersdale  
Stuart Peacock  
Ralph Greenway  
Phurpa Ridar Bhote (Our climbing Sherpa from Nepal)
Mingma Nura Sherpa (Our 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 option.

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 altitude.

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 summit.

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 afternoon.

This is the plan!

Chris Mothersdale May 2004.

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