Himalaya 2008 climbing season, Karakoram and Himalaya wrap-up /8/ – Week in Review.

Stories of survival; statistics – and useful lessons emerging already. On a mountain such as K2, climbing veterans pointed out last week; the best we can do for victims is to learn from their misfortune and respect their memory.

More lessons are taught by a cross-over explorer in a book dedicated to his daughters and subtitled “what they don’t teach you in school.” Last week, ExWeb caught up with “Three Poles” pioneer Erling Kagge for a big interview.

K2 wrap-up: Americans in ghost BC Only ghosts remain on the barren glaciers of K2, plus a group of six climbers who still hope for a chance to attempt a summit bid. Mike Farris joined Dave Watson and Chuck Boyd of team Tall Mountain, and Gheorghe Dijmarescu, Rinjen Sherpa and Mingma Sherpa of Sunny expeditions for a summit bid. (Gheorghe’s name is familiar to readers of the book “High crime” where his Everest commercial outfit is among the featured.) The teams plan to use oxygen. Tall Mountain team members have reached C2 on the Cesen route after Broad Peak which they didn’t summit, although “Andy Shelters reached a new personal high altitude record, and Dave had some good skiing from an altitude of 7500 meters,” according to the expedition blog.

American Fabrizio Zangrilli for Nanga Parbat’s Rupal face August 5, Zangrilli’s team trekked into Herligkoffer base camp. Due to constant rains, the reportedly easy half hour easy glacier crossing to the start of Messner turned into a long march requiring ladders and fixed rope. The team moved BC further south, about 4 to 5 hours away.

Mustagh Tower: Pavle Kozjek’s new goal Piolet d’Or nominee Pavle Kozjek is leading a small Slovenian team on Muztagh Tower. Pavle, Dejan Miškoviè and Gregor Kresal arrived in Skardu on August 6th, and hoped to reach BC in a week’s time. However, the team expected some difficulties on the way, since land slides have reportedly blocked the road at some points.

Valery Babanov and Viktor Afanasiev call off GII Viktor and Valery are coming home with new routes opened in alpine style on BP and G1. However, after a week in BC they called off G2, due to rock fall injury suffered by Viktor on the G1 ascent.

Stories of survival from K2:

Norwegians ExWeb’s correspondent Karrar Haidri checked in with K2 survivors in Islamabad. The Norwegians said that Lars Flato Nessa and Cecilie Skog topped out, while Oystein Stangeland and Rolf Bae turned around approximately 100 meters below the summit. Cecilie and Lars met Bae on the way down, when in the middle of the traverse, Skog and Nessa heard a big ice avalanche coming and saw Bae’s head-torch disappear in front of them. The rope was broken at approximately 40/50 meters before the Bottleneck. The climbers used spare rope to climb down the Bottleneck, and reached C4 at around 11:00 pm.

Nick Rice American Nick Rice climbed with French Hughues D’Aubarede who perished on K2 with Mehrban Karim and Jahan Baig. Nick said that Hughues and Meherban got stuck above the Bottleneck. They tried to descend the next day without rope but slipped and fell. Jehan Baig, who died in relation to the Serbian climber who suffered a fatal fall, was initially hired by the Singaporean team. After he was fired by the leader, Rice and D’Aubarede took him in.

Wilco Van Rooijen and Cas Van De Gevel said climbers were trapped at around 26,000 feet of altitude above the Bottleneck. Wilco confirmed that advance climbers fixed ropes in the wrong place at about 1,150 feet below the summit, where the avalanche later took place. The Norit K2 Expedition team had extensive meetings with the relatives of McDonnell in Pakistan, and returned home Thursday.

Marco Confortola said that poor rope equipment and a mistake by a porter who forgot to bring a 656-foot rope was “just the beginning of the problems.” Confortola said he heard a boom and witnessed a second avalanche, in which Gerard McDonnell vanished. Marco also said he descended alone until he was helped down by two Pakistan high altitude porters (Ed note: the climber also told Montagna that he was found by Pemba Sherpa who saved his life).

Korean female climber Go Mi Sun told Karrar Haidri that it was a great loss to the expedition as three of the team’s experienced mountaineers and two of their Sherpas died in the accident. Go said that her team summited K2 at 5.30pm, and lost all 5 members in an accident on descent. She also said that team Sherpa Jumik Bhote called home to his pregnant wife over a satellite phone from the summit. After he died, Bhote’s wife gave birth to a baby girl. Go added that K2 became her 6th 8000er summit, and that her goal is to climb all 14 8000 meter peaks by the year 2011, with Kanchenjunga last on the list.

Korean Expedition leader Kim Jae Soo told Karrar that he climbed Everest twice (1990 and 2007), Cho Oyu in 1993, Broad Peak in 2007, Shisha Pangma twice (1991 and 2007) and Lhotse twice (2002 and 2008 ) in addition to K2 in 2008. Kim said that he plans to climb Manaslu this fall.

Chhiring Dorje Sherpa: “an alternative route could save future lives on K2” Chhiring Dorje Sherpa summited K2 in his 17th summit of a 8000er. Chhiring has summited Everest 10 times, and told Karrar that every climber should bring with him around 6000 meter rope to K2’s Abruzzi route (check the story for details). Chhiring also told ExWeb that he will avoid the Bottleneck in the future by using the route from 8000 meter to the South Rock Face, which is only 500 meter and will reduce casualties. “This route will be difficult the first time, but easy for followers if properly fixed,” Chhiring said. Check in Monday also for Pemba’s story.

Zerain, Hayas and González: “Don’t look for anyone to blame – perished climbers deserve respect” The three Basque climbers said in a press conference that all climbers perished on K2 were highly experienced – and not “mountain tourists” as some had stated. Juan Carlos told El Correo Digital, “you mustn’t put blame on anyone. Mountain climbing demands making decisions, and sometimes these can be the wrong ones – but at 8000 meters is very difficult to evaluate the situation. There have been many false comments published about the ones who died. They were all experienced climbers, and we all expose ourselves when climbing. People who perished (on K2) deserve respect, not frivolous accusations.”

ExWeb special: AdventureStats K2 update AdventureStats has been updated with the latest statistics on K2. The numbers show facts useful for future K2 climbers. With this season’s 11 fatalities, 77 climbers have now perished on K2. 20 died in avalanches, 21 died in falls. 11 climbers marked as “disappeared” could add to the avalanche figure. The last 17 fatalities on K2 all happened in or above the Bottleneck. They were all caused by either fall or avalanche. 18 climbers have summited K2 so far this season (preliminary numbers), for a total of 299 summits. 32 summiteers, or more than 10% of the total 299 died on descent. Compare to Everest with 2.5% of summiteers perishing on descent. From 2000 to 2007; Everest has seen a summit/fatality ratio of 1.5% while K2 has lost 7.5% of the summiteers. Check the story also for other interesting notes and images of 2008 K2 survivors.

Exweb Week-In-Review is sponsored by HumanEdgeTech the world’s premier supplier of expedition technology. Our team helps you find ultra light expedition tech that works globally.
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