K2 Expedition #12 -The Daily Moraine 201531 July 2015
Last newsletter from K2 BC
Again we have a bright clear hot day at BC, although we did have a frost this morning, in fact this was the third frost that we have experienced during the entire expedition. The other two were on the days that team members were at C2 and C3 on Broad Peak. I must say that it is a weird feeling to be abandoning our expeditions because of too much fine weather. It has been incredible to see a high pressure sit over us for a month, and for this pressure to be strong enough to push the jet stream winds around us, and to push back the monsoon clouds from sneaking up the valley, but that is just what has happened. Thus we have been experiencing so many clear hot sunny days here at BC, which have caused all sorts of havoc with the snow cover. At first we had heard of the large amounts of snow in the area, but this soon melted or fell off the summits, leaving behind a small sheen of hard green water ice on the rocks, or exposed rocks that fell down the slopes. On the high glaciers and snow slopes the snow that remained was so unconsolidated, and as I have already explained is more like icing sugar. Because of the amount of air that is in this sort of snow pack, obviously the slopes are potentially dangerous, but also become impossible to make a trench through. All of this was quite unexpected here on K2 where one was expecting to deal with storms and fresh snow avalanches and raging wind. Is this just another example of global warming ???? This has been the point of debate over many of the breakfasts whilst sitting in the sun and listening to the local stream come alive each morning. This stream that flows down on top of a course carved out of the ice is totally empty at 07.00. But at 08.00, as if a tap has been turned on it all of a sudden just fills up to become a raging torrent, all in the space of about 10 minutes. It is so fascinating to watch the power of nature, right at ones front door.
I daresay for the world population and for politicians to understand the effects of general warming around the globe, one needs to come and see such phenomena. One rock in particular, a white rock, has attracted our attention, once again easily seen from our dining tent, but it has now formed its own ice pedestal (penitent) 3 times until the ice can no longer support it, and it falls over, to repeat the same process. We are not going to wait here until it reaches the end of the glacier, but it has been interesting to watch its topsy turfy progress over the last month.
Last night we experienced our second full moon…well not quite.. as it is not for another few nights….but for the second time on this expedition one could walk around easily without a head lamp. A small point but one notices such things as the moon light brightens the tents. The glacier that we are camped on continued to exude its normal cracks, grunts and groans but last night it seemed that it was also having some internal haemorrhaging as it kept us awake with a symphony of hollow sounds accompanied by a percussion of rock fall and distant avalanches. Even the night that should normally be quiet and peaceful, these mountains are alive.
We have now packed as much as we can, and eagerly await the arrival of the porters tomorrow so as we can start our 4 day trek back to civilisation. We were the second team to arrive at BC, behind the Swiss team, but now we are the only team left here at BC, all others having made a hasty departure. Again the forecast promises us rain in the coming days, which is not so unexpected as we walk out to a lower altitude and closer to the monsoon. Ironical that we had bad weather for much of the walk in, and might also have for the walk out, but then had perfect weather all the time at BC. But then again….we might be lucky and have no rain….we will see.
This will be the last Daily Moraine from BC, I will post a short not about the trip out when we are back in Skardu.