K2 Expedition #11 - The Daily Moraine 201528 July 2015
Broad Peak also Abandonded
It has been a hectic few days as we prepared and attempted to summit Broad Peak, but alas the snow conditions did not allow us to summit.
Broad Peak from K2
This morning the team of 8 members and 8 Sherpas woke early and prepared brews before setting out from C3 at 02.00. At 01.00 it was a clear moonlight night with no wind, so it looked like a promising summit day. However by 02.00 it had clouded over and it was snowing lightly as everyone departed the camp. After one hour the snow had not stopped and travelling in the dark, over relatively easy terrain, but where there are some crevasses it became a little too dangerous, so it was decided to return to C3. But then at 05.00 it was perfectly clear again, so with a big effort everyone started to climb again. But after a couple of hours, the travel through the unconsolidated thigh deep snow became too dangerous, so yet again the difficult decision to abandon the climb had to be made. This is a huge disappointment for everyone, but I must say not totally unexpected.
I dare say that I need to explain why we elected to continue to climb on Broad Peak even after we had decided to cancel climbing on K2. These mountains and the routes that we were attempting are completely different. The Cessen route is very steep and is mainly a rock climb but with snow covering. The upper part of the route does move onto a glacier where we were expecting deep unconsolidated snow. But as the temperatures have been so high the snow has almost disappeared on the lower part of the route thus exposing green ice with water running down it, and there was also much rock fall.
As opposed to Broad Peak, which is a much less steep route and is mainly on snow slopes. The most dangerous part of this route is from Crampon Point to C1 where the avalanche came down earlier killing one person and injuring several others. Now that this slope is denuded of snow there is also green ice but also a lot of small rock fall, however contained in various shoots that dissect the snow slopes. Once above this, the route is relatively safe, however because of the low angled snow slopes, the snow is very deep and unconsolidated, so it is actually like climbing through a bowl of icing sugar, but only thigh deep. Doesn’t taste so good either !! Obviously this also has the potential to slide off as well, especially once a trail has been cut through it.
These last few days the Sherpas have worked hard in order to carry loads directly to C2 for all members and staff, then to leapfrog this camp to C3 in order to make this last ditched attempt. Of course there were several loads of oxygen as well to be carried. Some of these Sherpas returned to BC whilst others stayed with the team in order to make the summit attempt.
But now all loads are back off the mountain and are down to at least our Depo Camp on the Baltoro Glacier. And now all members and Sherpas have returned to BC, tired and frustrated from this last attempt, but at least everyone is safe. We will collect the loads from the Depo Camp tomorrow which will signify the completion of climbing. With one day of packing we hope that we can start the trek out to Skardu on 31 July or 01 Aug.