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  United Kingdom British K2 & Broad Peak Expedition 2004 Update 2

In delayed reporting from K2 base camp here are several updates

24/06/04: The weather is still bad. Apparently the worst weather in a long time. The forecast for the next few days is more of the same.

Dave arrived in camp at 2:00pm so the team is now complete. However our neatly laid out mess tent now looks like a bomb site with all of Dave's kit. The good news is the laptop is now fully up and running.

All we can do now is sit and wait for the good weather and for the avalanches to subside. So lots of drinking, eating, reading and Mickey taking of Dave due to the lack of views he had on the walk in. We've already shown him what the Trango Towers look like, which impressed him no end. Regards, Stu.

23/06/04: Today's plan was for us to go up to camp 1 and pitch the tents. Unfortunately there have been very heavy snows. This has made the mountain very dangerous and avalanches have coming down all around. Thankfully we can see them from the safety of our camp.

22/06/04: We walked to K2 base camp to help us with acclimatisation, this got us to a height of 5000m. Sunam, Perber & Ebrehiem went up to camp 1 with a carry of tents and then cleared a platform ready for when we move up. There are a lot of teams on both mountains and finding tent space is posing the biggest problem next to the weather.

21/06/04: Yesterday we arrived at Broad Peak Base Camp. The Base Camps have been established on a central moraine scar on the Godwin-Austen Glacier near the start of the route. The height of BC is 4825m so not far off the top of Mont Blanc.

The clouds have been hugging close to K2 and Broad Peak and we appear to Be level with the cloud base so we can't see much the majority of the time. Although the cloud did lift yesterday evening to reveal Broad Peak in all its glory. We could see the ridge line from camp 2, to where camp 3 will ae positioned. We could also see the col to which the final summit ridge is attained. It all looks a long way away from down here.

K2 also revealed most of itself, only the summit was in cloud, due to the strong winds hitting the south face and blowing ice crystals up and over the summit to form a long plume on the opposite side.

We stood for quite some time looking at the route and pondering what it will be like to be up there, not quite believing that we are now here in front of these two giants.

Last night we had a lot of snow, thankfully today was a rest day. Again the clouds hang low and the snow comes and goes. We have sorted through the barrel, checking tents etc.

We found the barrel with the Pepperami & the Branston Pickle in it, so we had a bit of side treat with our dinner. The food has been excellent throughout the trip. However we did feel a little bit guilty for the goat which had been walked all the way up to BC only to meet its demise in time for our tea last night !! It's nearly enough to make you veggie. We have 2 chickens remaining from 12. They appear to be seeking refuge under the table in the mess tent. I suspect they won't see the week out.




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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