K2 Expedition #8 -The Daily Moraine 201524 July 2015
Another day at beach camp
We are just about to head into the weekend and everyone at our base camp – or rather beach camp given the hot weather – is getting ready for yet another relaxed few days. “I would suggest for you guys to prepare yourselves to hunker down and sit out the bad weather that is coming,” Russell said during our post-breakfast ‘weather meeting’. According to our very reliable Swiss weather service, Meteotest, Friday’s brilliant and hot sunshine will probably be the last for a while. “I know it’s difficult to sit here cooking at the fine weather and calm-looking mountains, but it’s also pointless to go up high and retreat again. We will just waste our energy and resources,” Russell continued.
The last few days have given us numerous warning signs and we are even hearing avalanches and rock fall in the middle of the night, which is rather unusual. Sadly, there have been a few injuries caused by rock fall on both Broad Peak and K2 and on Thursday night a New Zealander walked into our camp with his head split open. Fortunately, Dr Dick was on standby and managed to suture the wound. “Suturing up here is not much different from doing it in my practice,” he said. “The only difference is the bad lighting but thanks to mine and Shinji’s headlamps I think we are doing a good job,” Dr Dick said while stitching away.
Our expedition doctor has certainly not been bored during the course of our trip and he also turned out to be of great help in the case of the Japanese climber, who was seriously wounded in the avalanche on Broad Peak. As the military helicopter seemed unable to fly on either Monday or Tuesday due to bad weather in Skardu, we paid a visit to see if the team had enough medication to treat the climber, who had an open fractured dislocation of the ankle. To our surprise, the wounded actually required surgery in order to save her lower leg from being amputated, and both Dr Dick from our expedition and Dr Tom from Madisson Mountaineering arrived just in time to assist Dr Anna from the Spanish team, who had been looking after her.
After we had all helped together and built a little operating theatre using a big dome tent and constructing a bed out of big rocks, the patient was given a general anaesthetic and the medical trio joined forces to relocate the dislocated tibia as well as possible. “I would say it was a major operation at 4,900m,” Dr Dick explained. “I just hope that it was good enough for her to keep her leg.” Fortunately, on Wednesday the helicopter was able to fly through a gap in the clouds and we have just heard that the patient has arrived in Islamabad being in the safe hands of a good hospital.
Rock fall continues
The sad accident on Broad Peak, which also took the life of one Pakistani high altitude porter (HAP), was yet another indication for the bad conditions on the mountain – despite the amazing weather. “The valley keeps on being alive to the sound of avalanches and rock fall and over the last few days we have seen this pristine white snow being covered by a thin layer of Pakistani dust,” Russell explained pointing to the majestic mountains, which have changed their colour from brilliant white to a dull grey.
On Friday, we also found out that the gear left by Seven Summit Treks at their Advanced Base Camp at the bottom of the Abruzzi Ridge had been avalanched and buried under snow. Furthermore the Swiss team, who was on their summit push via the Cessen Route of K2, is retreating at the time of writing this newsletter. We have not been able to find out why. Also on Friday, Madisson Mountaineering’s Sherpas, who were on their way to C1 on the Abruzzi Route, were forced back by the deep and unconsolidated snow. Well – the warning signs continue to be all around us.
But it’s not all bad. The fine weather gave us a great photo opportunity for capturing the handsome bearers of the Bigmoose T-shirts featured in this Newsletter. Bigmoose is a charity set up by Jeff Smith, who was on Manaslu and Everest with Himalayan Experience. The organisation helps homeless people in the UK by getting supermarkets and other organisations with access to food to give it to the homeless rather than throw it away. Many of the homeless in the UK are former servicemen, who have been unable to adjust to civilian life upon their return from their military service. Bigmoose is also organising charity walks to raise funds for Nepal earthquake victims.
Regards from K2 Beach Camp
Russ and Billi