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  Nuno Caetano: GASHERBRUM II 2004 - PAKISTAN trip report

French-Portuguese Gasherbrum II Expedition 2004 – Debriefing

The first members of the expedition started to arrive to Islamabad on 9th of July. After some days in the capital of Pakistan, where we took the chance to visit the most famous monuments of the city, we left by bus to Skardu on the 12th.

During 2 days we travelled along the Karakorum Highway crossing beautiful areas and unforgettable places. The journeys were long and we were very happy when we finally reached Skardu on the night of 13th.

We had one day to rest in Skardu where we chose to buy the last things still missing for the expedition.

On the 15th we left for Askoli. 7 hours of jeep. We crossed the last traces of civilization, but in the memory remains the smiles of the people of the Baltistan villages.

The next day was the beginning of the trekking. During 7 days we walked along the Baltoro Glacier, with the objective to arrive to the Gasherbrum II Base Camp. The trekking was amazing because it allowed us, for the first time to see some mythic mountains like the Trango Towers and the majestic K2.

On the 22nd we arrived to Base Camp, and after one day of rest we decided to go for Camp 1. The way up was long and hard because we were not acclimatized and also because we had big charges. The night was a little bit hard for some of us.

When we woke up the next morning the weather was fabulous and we planned to go to Camp 2. At 5pm we left Camp 1 and started to climb to Camp 2. At Camp 2, two members (Emmanuel Exposito and Jean-Louis Manesse) decided to go a little bit forward… and they didn’t stop before they reached the summit of Gasherbrum II.

The expedition was already a success, after 4 days on the Base Camp we had two members on the summit. It was the 26th of July.

Between the 26th and 27th everybody returned to Base Camp because the weather was getting worse. In fact it snowed for 8 days in a row, and when we tried to go up again to Camp 1 on the 5th of August, we had a lot of work to find and to make the tracks.

The next day we climbed to Camp 2 but there was a lot of fresh snow. It was quite hard to make the tracks. We arrived to Camp 2 and we were very happy to see our tents there. We had a good sleep but when we woke up the next morning the sky was completely grey. The summit of Gasherbrum II was constantly surrounded by big clouds of snow due to strong winds. The only thing to do was go down.

The return to Base Camp on the 9th was very hard because we had to cross the icefall with a lot o fog and snow falling. A memorable day!!!

It continued to snow for the next 5 days and considering the conditions we decided that the best thing to do was to return home.

Like all the other expeditions we also had a lot of problems with the porters. We only left Base Camp on the 17th. Direction: Gondoghoro La. It was a nice pass, but like the rest of our time in Pakistan we didn’t have luck with the weather. We didn’t see anything.

The return to Skardu and Islamabad was normal with no incidents. Now everybody is back in France, already planning their next projects!!!

It was a good expedition, full of new experiences. I think that all of us learned a lot and we’ll try to do much better next time.

Beautiful Pakistan, Beautiful Bastistan!!!

Nuno Caetano


GASHERBRUM II 2004 Pakistan

French-Portuguese Expedition

OVERVIEW: This expedition consists of Nuno Caetano, from Portugal, and 10 more climbers and scientists from France. Their mission is to summit Gasherbrum II (8035m/26,260ft) as well as to conduct an original scientific experiment involving the effects of environmental pollutants on the ozone layer, by taking various ice samples from Baltoro glacier. (Glaciers trap air bubbles, and scientists can determine atmospheric compositions from glacial ice samples, not unlike the research done in polar regions.) The team plans on arriving in Islamabad at the beginning of July and returning from their expedition at the end of August.


1. Nuno Caetano, 26, Madeira, Portugal.

2. Jean Louis Manesse, 29, Chalon sur Saone, France.

3. Nicolas Sieger, 35, La Rochelle, France.

4. Frederic Heymes, 28, Vizinobres, France.

5. Thierry Segonne, 29, Megeve, France.

6. Mathias Mougenot, 28, Epinal, France.

7. Pierre Feuillet, 56, Herault, France.

8. Bruno Decoret , 57, Lyons, France.

9. Rigis Vanhasbrouck, 48, Nevers, France.

10. Claire David. 32, Paris, France.

11. Claudie Decoret, 56, Lyons, France.

Expedition to Pakistan July-August 2004
On line from the Expedition

Saturday, 10 July 2004: I just received word from Jean-Louis and Nuno:

All goes well in Islamabad! 50 porters already left yesterday (Friday, 9 July) and the alpinists will leave tomorrow (Monday, 11 July) for Skardu. It will take them two days by Jeep along the famous Karakoram highway, which goes along the Indus River, before arriving at K2 Motel where all the expeditions meet again. Sophie.

History of the Gasherbrum II

1889-1929 The international expedition headed by the Swiss G.O. Dyhrenfurth studies possible ways to the top of the Gasherbrum II and gets to 6250 meters on the south flank. 

1956: First ascent via the southwest spur by an Austrian expedition headed by F. Moravec. Fritz Moravec along with Josef Larch and Hans Willenpart starts from a bivouac at 7700 meters via the east spur to the summit on 7th. 

July 1975: Second ascent by a French group, 19 years after the first ascent. During this expedition, the first victim at the Gasherbrum has to be lamented. In this year, three expeditions get to the summit, among others a Polish women team headed by W. Rutkiewicz. 

1979: A Chilean and a German expedition succeeded in the 6th and 7th ascent. 

1982: R. Messner Summits with two Pakistanis.

1984: During the legendary double ascent of two 8000 peaks, Messner and H. Kammerlander get to the summit of Gasherbrum II and afterwards Hidden Peak. Counting and registration is more complicated during the following years because some illegal teams got to the summit. Both peaks belong to the less frequently climbed 8000 peaks. Per year, only 2 to 3 permits are given.

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