K2 Expedition #9 -The Daily Moraine 201526 July 2015
K2 abandoned – one-off attempt on Broad Peak
Waking up to another sunny and hot day on Saturday morning was rather a surprise as the weather forecast had predicted thunderstorms and precipitation for the next few days. While we had decided to stay put and sit out the bad weather period, other teams have been trying to reach the summit of Broad Peak on Friday and Saturday. However, at the time of writing this newsletter nobody had reached the top of the 12th highest peak in the world. “According to the Sherpas of Seven Summit Treks, most people turned around at about 7,900m due to deep snow, which was very sugary and difficult to walk on,” Russell said during our post-breakfast meeting.
The first item on the list of things to be discussed was naturally what to do about our attempt to reach the summit of K2. During the meeting, it was decided that the risk of injuries and fatality is too high to continue on either the Cessen Route or Abruzzi Ridge of K2. We have now abandoned all climbing on K2 unless the conditions suddenly improve.
As mentioned in Friday’s newsletter, the team consisting of three very strong Swiss climbers, a Pakistani, a Czech and an Argentinian had called off the climb at Camp 3. Initially, we were all very surprised when we watched them come down through our binoculars, and in order to find out the reason, we invited the Swiss team to talk to us during our afternoon tea.
“What we encountered up there was very dangerous and certainly not to be taken lightly,” said Mike Horn. “The fixed ropes are all out of place; where we used to have snow there is now blue ice and the traverse needs to be scratched out of blank rock with the ice now gone,” he explained. “On top of that there is lots of rock fall, which makes climbing even more dangerous. To put it in a nutshell: I think the mountain is unclimbable at the moment,” he concluded. Fred, another climber on the team, narrowly escaped serious injuries when a rock brushed his helmet and landed on his pack. “I probably would not be sitting here if it had hit me on the head,” he said.
While the Swiss team were explaining the potential dangers on the Cessen Route, Madisson Mountaineering’s sirdar Kami Sherpa was hit by a big rock on his way down from Camp 1 on the Abruzzi Ridge, seriously injuring his arm. So, Dr Dick was once again busy until late into the night trying to save Kami Sherpa’s arm with the help of Brook and Dr Tom of Madisson Mountaineering. In the meantime we also heard that the cache of Seven Summit Treks is buried deep below avalanche debris and it seems very unlikely that they will be able to get all their gear back, which is yet another stumbling block for a K2 expedition. And as if to confirm our decision, this morning before breakfast two big avalanches swept down the lower part of our route from the upper slopes of K2.
With all our climbing on K2 being abandoned, we have decided to have a one-off attempt on Broad Peak. And so, we are currently preparing for the Sherpas and those with a Broad Peak permit to leave base camp on Sunday morning to go to Camp 2. This is of course weather-permitting as the forecast is still predicting bad weather for the coming days.
As David Tait had his heart on K2 only and was not interested in climbing Broad Peak, he grabbed the opportunity to take one of the two helicopters that came to evacuate Kami Sherpa and left BC as early as 9am - leaving a big gap in his seat. David is probably in Skardu at the moment trying to get on the next plane to Islamabad and then back to the UK.
As far as the rest of us is concerned, we will have to trek out the way we came and according to our flight schedules, the latest we can leave BC is 9th August.
Russ and Billi from K2 base camp