Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Power Problems on the Baltoro

K2 base camp is not a very sunny place. Situated on the Godwin-Austen Glacier between K2 and Broad Peak, the sun is usually obscured by clouds hanging around the summits. So I have to keep my blog posts short.

The hike from Askole to base camp is 66 miles and very rugged. The Karakorams are some of the biggest, baddest mountains I've ever seen. Very impressive.

We left Askole on the 16th of June and got to base camp on the 22nd. This walk took us from the last inhabited areas and high into the glacial valleys. It took several days to reach the snout of the Baltoro Glacier, from which the Braldoh River issues forth. This is one of the few glaciers in the world that has not receded... much. The snout appears to be in the same position as it ever was, with no terminal moraine at a distance from the end of the ice. The height has changed and, from looking at the walls of the valley, you can see that the maximum height was probably 200 feet higher than it is now, but that was probably more than 15,000 years ago.

The day after we arrived here we carried loads of equipment to the base of the Cesen Route (SSE Spur). Later, two skiers were attempting to descend from Camp 2. I didn't see it, but one of them fell almost 800 meters. We quickly put on our gear, packed the medical kit and hoped to help in someway. Unfortunately, the skier died and we watched rather helplessly as his partner dragged him down the slope towards the bottom. No one dared to ascend to them because the slope they were on is incredibly dangerous, threatened as it is by a massive wall of seracs at about 6,000 meters. Towards the bottom Fabrizio did go up and encourage him to continue descending without the body and to get out of harm's way, which -- thankfully -- he did. The next day we climbed up and recovered the body and the day after that, we carried him down valley where a helicopter came to pick up the body and his partner. It was a grim start to the trip and our only satisfaction can be in the fact that we were able to help in some small way. I hope everyone one will keep their eyes up and their minds clear for the rest of the trip as I really do not want to have to evacuate anyone else.

The latest update is that we have fixed past Camp 1. In another day or two I will go up, sleep at Camp 1 and then help to fix ropes to Camp 2. I may even sleep there before returning to base camp. The weather has been OK. It snowed last night and is cloudy and windy a lot, but it is not preventing us from moving on the mountain. The higher elevations are getting hammered by wind as the jet stream has dropped to about 8,000 meters. If we are lucky, the weather up high will improve when we get up there.

Wish us luck!


  1. look at those keyword labels!
    Labels: climbing, death, k2, pakistan, rescue, travel

    Since you are stuck in a tent, I'll give you some riddles to keep you guys occupied during that time.

    1) This thing runs but cannot walk, sometimes sings but never talks. Lacks arms, has hands; lacks a head but has a face. What is it?

    2) What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, has a head but never weeps, has a bed but never sleeps?