Karakoram Summer 2018: Snow Slows Progress Everywhere.

I’m back from Africa and will start posting regular updates again. A lot took place while I was away, particularly in the Karakoram where the summer climbing season is now in full swing. When I left, many teams were still en route to Base Camp, but now most have settled into place and have started their acclimatization rotations, although as usual in the big mountains the weather is dictating the schedule so far.

The big news of the climbing season in Pakistan so far is the continued heavy snowfall. K2, Broad Peak, Nagna Parbat, and the Gasherbrum Massif has been hit hard with snow storms, depositing more than a foot (30 cm) of powder across the region. This has had the effect of keeping most teams in BC or Camp 1 at the highest, which is slowing down he schedules when it comes to acclimating to the altitude. As Alan Arnette points out, this isn’t necessarily all that unusual at this time of the year, but it could cause a traffic jam on higher sections of the mountain, and at campsites, once conditions do finally improve.

Meanwhile, the heavy snow seems to have brought an end to at least one expedition so far. Mike Horn has left Base Camp on Nanga Parbat and it appears he won’t be going back. The Swiss explorer indicates that heavy snow higher up the mountain, along with a grim forecast, have caused him to pull the plug altogether. He was one of the first climbers to arrive on Nanga Parbat this year, but is also one of the first to head for home too.

Furtenbach Adventures has checked in from Broad Peak where they are one of the few teams who managed to go all the way up to Camp 2 as part of their acclimatization strategy. Their Sherpa team has also already established Camp 3 further up the hill, but for now they’re stuck in BC like everyone else, waiting out the storm and hoping that the snow will settle enough that it is safe to climb higher. That may be a few days off yet however.

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Summer 2018: K2 and the Karakorum.

K2 Photo: M. Chmielarski

Akira Oyabe’s North Japan K2 Expedition opened the Karakorum season earlier this month when they started fixing ropes for their attempt on K2. ExWeb takes a broad look at all the teams currently in the Karakorum, and what to expect this year.

K2. Photo: KhRizwani

The Savage Mountain
Although the second highest peak in the world, K2 (8,611m) sees only a fraction of the climbing traffic of Everest. Of course, “second-highest” does not bestow the same prestige to peak baggers wishing to brag about their conquest, but this is only a corner of the picture. In reality, K2 is different from Everest in every respect; in particular, its technical challenge and squirrelly weather.

The 130km trek to the starting point of K2 is double that to Everest Base Camp. But where the hike up the Khumbu is undulating, and dotted with villages, tea houses and helipads, the trail to K2 is deserted and a sharp ascent from the start. Yes, Mount Everest is taller, but K2 is much harder. It is steeper and relentless, with higher risks of rockfall and avalanche.

K2 has more unpredictable weather than Everest: Its imposing solitary stature generates a notoriously unstable microclimate, with temperatures at the summit plummeting as low as -50°C.

All of this contributes to K2’s daunting 20 percent fatality rate, far exceeding Everest’s three percent. High winds and avalanche conditions frequently lead to seasons with no summits: In the nine years from 2009 to 2017, climbers have failed to summit in five of them. Last year, Vanessa O’Brien led the only successful party.

However, more difficulty means a more coveted prize in mountaineering. Increasingly, the alpine world’s attention is turning towards K2, as Mount Everest becomes associated with commercialism and comfort.

The Karakorum
In addition to K2, the Karakorum contains another three of the 14 eight-thousanders: Gasherbrum I (8,080m), Gasherbrum II (8,035m) and Broad Peak (8,047m).  Countless other 6,000 to 7,000m peaks tempt the committed alpinist. The majority of climbing in the Himalaya happens in the short May window before the monsoon brings bad weather for the entire summer. Lying far northwest of the Himalaya, the Karakorum often – though not always – escapes the monsoon, and July–August is the best time to climb.

This year, teams have permits for K2, Gasherbrum I-IV, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak, Spantic Peak and Urdo Kangri II.

Gasherbrum II. Photo: Scarpa/Cory Richards

K2 will see the most traffic in the Karakorum, with 44 climbers that we know of. Team leaders on K2 include Akira Oyabe (Japan), Dan Mazur (USA), Sergio Mingote (Spain), Serge Dessureault (Canada), Rodrigo Vial (Chile), Roland Striemitzer (Austria), Garrett Madison (USA) and Hiroshi Kawasaki (Japan). Many of these teams also have permits for Broad Peak, which is often used as an acclimatization climb. Of note, Madison’s group  includes the top Hungarian climber David Klein.

If simply summiting the Savage Mountain is not enough, Polish skier Andrzej Bargiel returns this year for his second attempt at becoming the first to complete a ski descent of K2.

Garrett Madison, leader of one of the US teams. Photo: Karrar Haidri

At the head of the Charakusa Valley, K7 (6,934m) was ascended first by a Japanese team in 1984 and second by Steve House, who soloed a new route 20 years later. This summer, the ace German climbers Alex Huber and Fabian Buhl, who made the first free ascent of ‘Sueños de Invierno’ in Spain in 2016, have turned their formidable talents to K7. The combination of such an iconic mountain and such strong climbers piques curiosity about their exact plans. Raphael Slawinski, one of Canada’s leading alpinists, is also heading to Dansam (6,666m) and K7 with Alik Berg. Will 2018 be the year a new route is opened on K7?

K7 West. Photo: Archives of the expedition Charakusa 2011

Nanga Parbat
Testament to its technical difficulty, Nanga Parbat (8,126m) was first climbed in winter only in 2016, by Simone Moro, Ali Sadpara and Alex Txikon. This January, Nanga Parbat, or “Naked Mountain” in Urdu, shot into the news when Pole Tomasz Mackiewicz and Frenchwoman Elisabeth Revol bagged the second winter ascent but suffered snow blindness and altitude sickness during the way down. A rescue team of Polish climbers — flown in by the Pakistani army from their own attempt to make the first winter climb of K2 — managed to save Revol, but Mackiewicz perished.Since early this month, South African adventurer Mike Horn has been on the Diamir Face, making slow progress because of bad weather. Horn’s high-altitude CV already includes six of the 14 eight-thousanders.

Also on Nanga Parbat, the adventure company Lela has organized a strong team of six, led by Peruvian Richard Leopoldo Hidalgo Jara and including veteran Turk Tunc Findik and Alex Gavan, the Romanian mountaineer who specializes in climbing without O2.

Pavel Korinek returns to Nanga Parbat to lead an all-Czech team of nine to climb the Diamir Face.

Climbing Mummery Rib, Nanga Parbat. Photo: Daniele Nardi

Sometimes called the “beautiful mountain”, Gasherbrum IV (7925m) has no easy routes. The legendary West Face, the “Shining Wall”, is recognized as one of the most beautiful and challenging in the world. Despite expeditions throughout the 80s, 90s, and more sporadically this millennium, there remain no established routes on the South or East Faces. At least four teams are on G-IV this summer. Maria Valdimirovna is leading another Lela expedition, which also has permits for G-I and G-II. Valerio Stella heads an all-Italian team of four. Finally, a three-man team of German Climber Felix Berg and Poles Adam Bielecki and Jacek Czech will first acclimatize on G-II, then head to G-IV to open a route on the eastern wall. So Karakorum 2018 may see more than one pioneering route laid down.

Gasherbrum IV

G-IV on a “clear-sky-storm-day”. Photo: SummitPost

Latok I
First climbed by the Japanese in 1979, Latok I (7,145m) is notable for its extreme technical difficulty. This year, it has already seen turmoil, as a team of South Korean climbers required rescue from the North Face. There are also two three-man Russian teams on Latok I, led by Konstantin Markevich and 2015 Piolet D’Or winner Aleksandr Gukov. Last but not least, Ales Cesen leads a three-man Slovenian team. Cesen climbed the Northwest Ridge of Gasherbrum IV to reach the North Summit in 2016.

Latok I, North Ridge. Photo: American Alpine Club

Links :

Exclusive Pt. 1: K2 2017 Interview with Vanessa O’Brien

Exclusive Pt. 2: K2 2017 Interview with Vanessa O’Brien

Exclusive Pt. 3: K2 2017 Interview with Vanessa O’Brien

Nanga Parbat happy and unhappy end

Elisabeth Revol Describes Nanga Parbat Rescue

The end of the rescue operation at Nanga Parbat

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* source: – https://explorersweb.com/

** see also: – Spring 2018 Himalayan Recap.

– 15 days Nepal Everest Base Camp Trekking .

– Overview of Trekking Routes in Nepal.  Expedition in Nepal with Nepal Trekking Routes (Ama Dablam, Annapurna, Makalu, Manaslu, Pumori)

– Nepal Celebrates 65th Anniversary of First Ascent of Mt. Everest.

– Today is 65th Anniversary of Everest’s First Ascent.

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Andrzej Bargiel Aims to Ski K2 – Diary part 1.

I invite you to tracking the fate of expedition

in the Diary : Andrzej Bargiel Aims to Ski K2.

Andrzej Bargiel departured for his next adventure. This time, the aim will not be any of the eight-thousanders. Nevertheless, the goal that the Polish extreme skier set for himself is even more ambitious than the previous ones. “This is definitely the most challenging expedition of my life” – he confirmed.

The aim of the expedition is to conquer five highest peaks of the former Soviet Union, which is a prestigious mountaineering award called “Snow Leopard”. This is also the title name of the expedition. Previously some hundreds of climbers won the trophy but Bargiel wants to achieve this goal in his own style. By using skis on his way up as well as during the descents, he aims to break few speed records. The uniqueness of this project is greatly enlarged by the fact that the expedition involves the presence of the CANAL + DISCOVERY crew – a strategic partner of the project – that will create a documentary series illustrating Andrzej’s struggles with an ambitious and dangerous challenge. The premiere of the series “Andrzej Bargiel – Snow Leopard” will take place in autumn on CANAL + DISCOVERY channel.

The Snow Leopard Award includes five peaks reaching over 7000 meters. The first one, which Andrzej will face, after landing in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek and transfer to the city of Osh, is situated in the Pamir range – Lenin Peak (7134 m). On the easiest of the five peaks the polish skier will probably spend the most time, passing the monotonous process of acclimatization. After a succesful summit, the crew will fly to Tajikistan to challenge the last two peaks on the list: Korzeniewski Peak (7105 m) and the highest peak of the country and the Pamir mountains – Communism Peak (7495 m). It is still commonly known under its former Soviet name, although since 1998 its name has been officially changed to Ismoil Somoni Peak.

As fourth in line comes Pobeda Peak situated on the boarder between Kyrgyzstan and China, the highest peak in the mountains of Tien Shan, which is also considered to be the most dangerous one. Last, but not least, is Kazakhstan’s highest Khan Tengri (7010 m) with its capricious weather.

Andrzej Bargiel – 25 June at 21:06

We finally made it to Gasherbrum II basecamp. Weather is good and cold (-10C) so we are getting ready for going up. On the pics few more shots from trekking. Stay tuned for more updates ✌🏻

Dotarliśmy do bazy pod Gasherbrum II, gdzie przeprowadzimy aklimatyzację 😎 wysokość ~ 5000m. Ciepło nie jest, bo termometr wskazuje -10 stopni Celsjusza. Pogoda sprzyja, więc szykujemy się do akcji górskiej ✊🏻

Fot: Marek Ogień Photographer

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Andrzej Bargiel – 22 June at 21:06

We have reached Urdukas Camp, which is situated near by stunning Trango Towers….

Dotarliśmy do Urdukas, obozu położonego w otoczeniu przepięknej grupy wież Trango.

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Andrzej Bargiel Aims to Ski K2.

Andrzej Bargiel shredding up the slopes in La Grave, France.
Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel is again heading to the Karakorum to try to become the first person to complete a ski descent of K2.

Ski-mountaineers have tried to descend K2 in the past, sometimes with fatal consequences. Italian Hans Kammerlander had planned an attempt in 2001, only to turn around 400 meters from the summit after watching a Korean climber fall past him to his death. Nearly a decade later, in 2010, Swedish ski-mountaineer Fredrik Ericsson died after a fall near the infamous bottleneck section. Kammerlander has said that “somebody will do it, but he’ll need a lot of ability and a whole lot of luck”.

Andrzej Bargiel climing in La Grave, France.
Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

This is Bargiel’s second attempt. Last season he abandoned due to high avalanche and rockfall risks. The video below shows some teaser footage from the build-up to the 2017 expedition.

Bargiel is a seasoned extreme athlete who has previously skied Shisapangma and Broad Peak. This year, before attempting K2, he intends to acclimatize by climbing and skiing down Gasherbrum II, the lowest and most accessible of the 8000m peaks in the Karakorum.

16/06/2018, Bargiel landed in Skardu, the last stop in Pakistan before the Karakorum.

Shop Sale Items at MountainHardwear.com.

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* source: – https://explorersweb.com/

** see also: – Spring 2018 Himalayan Recap.

– 15 days Nepal Everest Base Camp Trekking .

– Overview of Trekking Routes in Nepal.  Expedition in Nepal with Nepal Trekking Routes (Ama Dablam, Annapurna, Makalu, Manaslu, Pumori)

– Nepal Celebrates 65th Anniversary of First Ascent of Mt. Everest.

– Today is 65th Anniversary of Everest’s First Ascent.

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Karakoram 2018: More Teams Heading to Base Camp in Pakistan.

Yesterday we took a quick look a the main peaks that climbers will be focused on summiting this summer in the Karakoram Range in Pakistan. Some of those mountains already have a few alpinists already in place, while other teams are starting to make their way to Base Camp in preparation for the summer climbs ahead. Here’s a quick rundown on some of the things that are currently happening.

The Furtenbach Adventures team is trekking to BC on Broad Peak where they’ll warm up before attempting both that mountain and  K2. The squad had been on the trail for more than week now and expect to reach Base Camp on Friday where they’ll spend a few days getting settled before starting their first acclimation rotation. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Madison Mountaineering team is just now preparing to leave for Pakistan, so they’ll be about two weeks behind Furtenbach in terms of reaching BC.

Other major expedition teams that will be on K2 this year include Seven Summits TreksSummitClimb, and Himex, although Russell Brice has still yet to confirm his company’s participation this season. Last year was a particularly frustrating one for him and his squad, promoting Brice to head home early, only to have other teams reach the summit. At the time, he had expressed his frustrations in an open letter that seemed to indicate he was ready to retire, but later clarified that stance and said he would continue guiding, admitting he still had to figure out what K2 was all about.

In addition to the well established commercial squads, there are a number of talented individual climbers in the region this summer with their own objectives too. For instance Romanian Alex Gavan and Turkish alpinist Tunc Findik have set their sites on Nanga Parbat this summer, while Adam Bielecki and Jacek Czech are heading to the Gasherbrum massif, possibly to bag several summits. Polish climber Andrzej Bargiel is back once again this summer as well to continue his pursuit of climbing and skiing down K2, something that seems utterly wild. Fredrik Sträng will have a go at K2 as well and indicates that he’ll be setting out for Pakistan in the middle of next week, while Nathalie Fortin and Brit Jake Meyer have also targeted the world’s second highest peak.

For now, most of these teams and climbers are still in the preparation phase back home, but there are a few who have already reached their starting points. For instance, Mike Horn has already started acclimatizing on Nanga Parbat and went to Camp 2 yesterday. His most recent dispatch indicated that he is planning on moving higher today, which would lend me to believe that he is looking at a rapid ascent on this mountain. At this rate, he could be done and heading home before most of the other teams arrive. We’ll just have to wait to see what happens.

That’s all for now. The stage has been set and soon the Karakoram will start to get busy. We’ll be following the news there very closely for the next month and a half.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – Karakoram 2018: More Teams Heading to Base Camp in Pakistan

** see also: – Trekking – posts on my site :

Trekking in Nepal Himalaya : GOKYO, KALA PATTAR and EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK (19 days).

Everest Base Camp – CLASSIC treks. / Version polish and english /

Trekking in Nepal Himalaya : EVEREST HIGH VALLEY – Travel Guide. /Version english/

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K2 Climbing Season Set to Begin as First Team Arrives in Pakistan.

The spring climbing season in the Himalaya has barely finished and already teams are turning their attention to the next big climbing season, this time in the Karakoram of Pakistan. The climbing season on K2 is set to begin there soon and according to ExWeb the first team of the year has already arrived in country.

Japanese climber Akira Oyabe and his squad arrived in Pakistan a few days back, getting an early start to their expedition. This is Oyabe’s third attempt on the mountain, with previous bids taking place back in 2009 and 2013. He hopes to finally summit the 8611 meter (28,251-ft.) peak this summer.

ExWeb reports that other than Oyabe, only one other member of the team has summited an 8000-meter peak, which makes this one of the least experienced teams on K2 this season. That is somewhat surprising considering the reputation and challenges that the mountain presents, making it one that is not especially friendly to those who aren’t properly prepared. Oyabe says he isn’t concerned about this however and is proceeding ahead with plans to climb the second highest peak in the world over the course of the next couple of months.

The team will now spend a few days in Islamabad collecting and sorting their gear before heading out to Skardu where they’ll begin the long journey to K2 Base Camp. That alone can take more than a week. If they stay on this pace, the Japanese team will be the first to arrive in BC this year, giving them a bit of a head start over the commercial teams that will begin arriving in June. Of course, we’ll be keeping a close eye on their progress throughout the Karakoram climbing season with regular updates to come down the line.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – K2 Climbing Season Set to Begin as First Team Arrives in Pakistan

** see also: – Trekking – posts on my site :

Trekking in Nepal Himalaya : GOKYO, KALA PATTAR and EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK (19 days).

Everest Base Camp – CLASSIC treks. / Version polish and english /

Trekking in Nepal Himalaya : EVEREST HIGH VALLEY – Travel Guide. /Version english/

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The Definition of Winter for K2 and Everest Climbs.

K2 Abruzzi Route Map

With the drama dissipating from K2, the Polish team remains at base camp waiting for better weather. Everest is now officially over but the debate about when winter ends, will continue forever. See this post for full background on the K2 and Everest expeditions and the history of winter attempts on the highest two mountains on Earth.

Big Picture – When does Winter End?

One of the big questions this season on both K2 and Everest is “When does winter officially end?” If you have been reading my blog  you might have seen comments from readers with clear views, for example from one reader “They can summit after February, but it won’t be winter.” Other simply say it is at the Spring equinox on March 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm EDT. The reality is, it depends on where you live and the local customs and definition.

First off, both Pakistan and Nepal issue climbing permits with different fees according to the season. On Everest, for example, they charge USD$11,000 per person for a spring permit – the most popular time. But for a winter permit, the least popular time, it drops to USD$2,750. Both countries’ tourism ministry define winter as December, January and February for permit purposes. They simply take the year and divide into four equal parts. For most people born and raised in this environment, that is what defines the seasons.

However, many people, including myself, were raised and taught that the seasons are defined according to the astronomical definition which is based on how the sun hits the earth and the shortest and longest days each year, in other words the equinoxes and solstices.

Then there are the seasonal definitions influenced by length of day and temperatures. Obviously March 1 at the North Pole compared to being on the equator are very different. Also, if it a rainy time of year or dry. To make matter even more complicated, the Hindu calendar has six seasons!! But hold on, it gets worse (or different 🙂  )  Australia and New Zealand use the meteorological definition, so spring begins on September 1 each year. Ireland uses an ancient Celtic calendar system to determine the seasons, so spring begins on St Brigid’s Day on February 1. In Finland and Sweden, the dates of the seasons are not based on the calendar at all, but on temperatures. To make your head spin a bit, take a look at this chart courtesy of Scribd

So if the Poles summit K2 in March will it be winter or spring? The answer is “yes.”

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