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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K2 Team Focuses on the Summit. Another Everest Attempt?

Leaving C3 for C4 on K2 in 2014. by Alan Arnette

Denis Urubko remains at base camp along with the drama. Now that he is off  the team, the remaining climbers are focusing on a potential summit push around mid March.  Alex Txikon suggested he ended his winter Everest attempt with his permit expiring on 28 February but today said maybe not! 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.

K2 Team Wants More Acclimatization

A few days ago Marcin Kaczkan and Maciej Bedrejczuk tried to reach C3 at 7,200-meters but only got to 7,000m before weather, once again, forced a retreat. They did get the fixed line through the Black Pyramid. Marek Chmielarski and Artur Małek slept at  C2, 6,500m. Today all four climbers are back to base camp where they will take a few days of rest. All climbers are reported to be in good health.  Wielicki has said he intends to continue running the expedition according to the schedule for a summit attempt in early March.

The latest from their Facebook account :

After returning to the Base both teams were tested: Marcin Kaczkan, Marek Chmielarski, Maciej Bedrejczuk and Artur Małek. Despite the heavy load: wind, temperature, physical effort, all parameters of the boys are in the full standard, without any complaints or injuries.  After 2-3 days of regeneration, the boys will be completely ready for further action in the mountains. KW, Expedition Doctor

The highest anyone on the K2 team had reached was when Adam Bielecki and Denis Urubko touched 7,400-meters. At the moment, it appears that Adam Bielecki and Janusz Golab are the strongest climbers and have the best chance for a summit bid but Golab wants to spend one night at 7,200-7,400-meters (C3) before the attempt. In other words, there is another rotation before they feel it is time for the summit push. Thus we are looking at least a week or more.

K2 Abruzzi Route Map

K2 Abruzzi Route Map

 

Urubko – No Apologies and Banned from Internet

Urubko reached around 7,700-meters/26,262 feet, just above Camp 4, on his solo push before poor weather (high winds and low visibility) forced him back. This was about 300 meter higher than he and Bielecki touched during an acclimatization run a couple of weeks ago.

He reached the usual spot for High Camp or Camp 4. From there the climb is straightforward snow slope to the base of the huge serac. You go through the bottleneck to reach the traverse, which is a couple hundred meters of near vertical ice wall. Once past this section, it is a long, but straightforward climb to the summit. In a normal year, from C4 to the summit might take 6-8 hours assuming the ropes are in. Given he had to set some kind of protection, or free climb the traverse, Urubko was looking at an enormously long day from Camp 3 – close to 24 hours round trip. He made a wise decision to turn back.

Now back at base camp Urubko will depart on 28 February to begin his trip home.

Denis Urubko on winter K2

Denis, speaking to the press before his access was cut-off (see below) made his position clear in an interview with Poland’s tvn24.pl

I do not think I have to apologize to anyone. They also are not angels. Wielicki allowed me to enter the third camp, and then told me to come back for reasons I do not understand. This is not a situation to say “sorry” . Me no one apologized for their mistakes. My opinion remains the same .

It was my chance to do something, and not to sit all the time in the basecamp. I am glad that I made the summit attempt. If I did not, I would be furious. Not won the summit, it was too big a risk. Conditions were very bad: lots of snow, zero visibility. Back was the only right decision. Now I can focus on other projects, prepare for climbing elsewhere.

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Winter K2 – Denis Urubko Abandons Summit Effort, Leaves Team.

Update: Denis Urubko has decided to leave the team. He didn’t summit. The Polish team made this announcement today:

Denis Urubko, in accordance with their beliefs about the end of the winter season, decided to leave the Winter Expedition to K2. This decision was accepted by the members of the expedition who did not see the possibility of further cooperation with Denis after his attempt to gain self apex.

Denis Urubko believed that winter ends at the end of February. The Polish expedition team leader, Krzysztof Wielicki, believed it ends with the spring equinox on March 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm EDT. This disagreement was well known before the expedition started with Urukbo voicing his opinion in a November 2017 interview with Alpinsmonline Magazine where he suggested that he would be a loyal member of the team.

Apparently frustrated with the pace of his teammates and feeling he was strong enough to attempt the summit, he set out alone after not convincing the next strongest climber, Adam Bielecki, to join him. Bielecki Tweeted:

Denis probably goes today to C3. I’m worried about it very much. He proposed a common exit but I suggested to better rest and wait for reasonable weather. He went alone. Meanwhile, we do our own. Bedro and Ducks assume C2 and Arthur and hops came just to C1.

Krzysztof Wielicki the Polish team‘s expedition leader was not surprised and felt a level of empathy for Urubko. He said in an interview

– It seemed that everything was OK. Denis came for breakfast in the morning (on Saturday – ed.), They sat until late, then left the base without telling anyone and went alone up. In the first camp he met with Marcin Kaczkan. Marcin asked him to talk to Krzysztof Wielicki on the radiotelephone but he did not want to carry out this conversation and went further up. He slept in the second camp tonight. Probably because there is no communication with him. Today should come to this tent, in which he and Adam spent two nights at 7200 m above sea level

On the other hand I understand it a bit, because sometimes I also had such situations that I did something solo. But here, however, we were a team, he was invited to the expedition. (…) It turned out, however, that this challenge (…), meaning getting K2 in the season – it seems to him that the season ends on February 28 – it was so great that he even sacrificed our relations.

K2 Polish Team all over the Mountain

Krzysztof Wielicki added in an additional interview on http://www.tvn24.pl

He is well acclimatized and very efficient. It’s great. I give him a chance to enter. Because it is a really strong player. The forecast is that half and half. Worse is the descent. It will be tomorrow when the summit is likely to be attacked. Then still it is relatively. But in the afternoon the weather breaks. And very worried about his descent. How come rain and snow is to be strong and the wind is coming back from the top can be completely lost. Overcast and fog can not see anything. Skipping that did not nice – I was just afraid for him

The latest from Wielicki just posted on their Facebook account :

Denis Urubko is coming down. Currently in c2.

There is no official word on if he summited but probably not. Let’s wait to hear from Denis directly.

Marcin Kaczkan and Maciej Bedrejczuk were headed towards C3 and Marek Chmielarski and Artur Małek are going to C2. Wielicki has said he intends to continue running the expedition according to the schedule for a summit attempt in early March.

The highest anyone on the team had reached was when Adam Bielecki and Denis Urubko touched 7,400-meters before returning to 7,200-meters C3, to sleep. It is believed Urubko had reached C3, rested before leaving it for the summit today, 26 February, 2018. The winds above 8000-meters is around 45 mph/70kph which is a bit higher than is acceptable for climbing. With Denis not using supplemental oxygen, he will risk frostbite developing quicker so that had to enter into his decision to return without the summit.

You can follow them directly on their website, Facebook, and Adam’s SPOT tracker

.. more on : – http://www.alanarnette.com/blog

Autor : Alan Arnette

* source: –  Winter K2 – Denis Urubko Abandons Summit Effort, Leaves Team

** see also: – National Polish Winter K2 Expedition.

Winter Manifesto of Krzysztof Wielicki – Manifest zimowy Krzysztofa Wielickiego /Version polish and english/

Nanga Parbat: 1 Saved, 1 Lost and the Spirit of Mountaineering is Strong.

Tomek Mackiewicz Perhises on Nanga Parbat Following Heroic Rescue Attempt.

Krzysztof Wielicki : Wyścig ze śmiercią – akcja ratunkowa na K2, Netia K2 Polish Winter Expedition (2003/2004).

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Solo K2, Everest Abandoned – Winter Update 1.

Climbers, feeling the pressure of deadlines, records and life, stopped their Everest attempt and set out solo on K2. See the Update below.

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. Both expeditions need to summit no later than the spring equinox on March 20, 2018, at 0:15 PKT for K2 and 18:00 NPT for Everest to meet a winter summit definition, but even that is debatable.

Winter K2 – Fracture of the Team

In a startling announcement, Krzysztof Wielicki the Polish team‘s expedition leader, posted on their site that Denis Urubko quietly left base camp for a solo attempt of K2. He did not inform anyone, ask permission or seek support. Apparently he believes that winter ends at the end of February so he had no choice but to make his attempt now. The weather forecast called for high winds – near 100mph/160kph over 8,000-meters. Wielicki said he would send the Pakistani High Altitude Porters to C2 with emergency oxygen and others on the team would go to C2 and C3 for acclimatization and to “secure” Urubko. Wielicki went on to stay the rest of the team would proceed with their agreed upon schedule targeting a summit in early March.

Denis along with Adam Bielecki have proven to be the strongest climbers. Denis had set most of the fixed lines himself and several times had gone up the route alone, with the support of the team. For him to make this solo summit attempt should not surprise anyone as on his blog he criticized Wielicki’s decisions and his teammates for their habits and refusing to speak Russian to him.

In a November 2017 interview with Alpinsmonline Magazine, Denis’ comment now appear to be prescience but also he suggested he would be a loyal member of the team.

Q: And specifically for this K2, do you have already designed or developed the strategy?

DU: This question would be better for the leader of our expedition. I need to be prepared as much as possible, to be ready for the summit push, as a member.

Q: You said that the winter season should be considered according to the “climatic factors” and not the “astronomical calendar. Therefore, taking into account issues” winter “Himalayan and Karakoram, the winter season runs from 21 December and sets the maximum to 28 February. Still keeping that thought would the February 28 deadline to reach the “Winter K2”?

DU: I guess period 01 (zero one) December – 28 (29) February as a true winter. About our project to K2, my opinion does not make sense now, because I’m only fulfilling the duty, I would get to the top. Later or sooner, no matter. The only success is important. After the expedition will see doubt, meanings, options, with Krzysztof Wielicki.

You can read more about Denis’s thoughts on winter at this link. The media outlet Wspinanie.pl reports that Denis met up with Maciej Bedrejczuk and Marcin Kaczkan at C1 but reused to speak with expedition leader Wielicki and further will not take a radio with him as he climbs higher.

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Everest and K2 Winter Climbs Update.

Everest Plume

The winter Everest summit team is taking the normal spring schedule for their summit bid as they have good weather at the moment but it is deteriorating slightly. The Polish K2 team is resting at base camp.

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. Both expeditions need to summit no later than the spring equinox on March 20, 2018, at 0:15 PKT for K2 and 18:00 NPT for Everest to meet a winter summit definition.

Big Picture

OK, now that the Everest team is on their summit push and the K2 team may start soon, it all comes down to weather. Many websites and media reports are using computer generated forecasts from Mountain Forecast and Meteoexploration but how accurate are these online resources? In my experience as a climber, the daily weather forecasts can vary widely from what really happens on the mountain. One phenomenon is the occurrence of micro bands. This is where only a narrow section of altitude is hit with strong winds while the other levels are calm. I got hit on Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face in 2011 by one of these. Camp 2 and the South Col reported somewhat lite weather, while we were inside our tent, holding it up with our hands to keep it from blowing away. The storm lasted for 12 hours then disappeared as quickly as it arrived.

In previous years of covering Everest, I asked Michael Fagin of everestweather.com his opinion of these types of forecasts. Michael has provide professional weather forecasts for Everest expeditions for over a decade.

Q: Some forecasts are posted on the web, the so called grid forecasts. What are these and who accurate are they?

These grid forecasts take what the weather conditions will be for an exact latitude longitude coordinate. So the grid forecast will give you the exact wind speed for the coordinates for Everest. I have found that the problem with these forecasts is if the forecast is off say 200 miles or so that this can make for an extremely inaccurate forecast. For example. Let us say that the grid forecasts  says Everest summit winds will be 30 knots and the grid forecasts 70 knot winds several hundred miles to the north of Everest. It is not uncommon for the actual forecast to be off by several hundred miles and the real time winds can easily be at 70 knots over Everest. So the forecast of 30 knot wind over Everest vs. real time winds of 70 knots is a big problem. Thus, it is important to get some weather professional analyzing the forecast models and explaining to expedition groups what can happen

Today, I asked Chris Tomer who also provides forecast for climbers through Tomer Weather Solutions  what he sees for Everest right now:

 The big drop in summit wind is still there SAT AM and again SUN AM.  But it’s bookended by strong jet stream wind FRI and MON. The summit air temp of -35F on SAT AM.

I noted in a recent interview with K2 expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki, that he is getting several forecasts. I assume one of those is from a professional service and has human interpretation. The same for Txikon and crew.

Winter K2 – Resting

The entire Polish team is back at base camp resting. Denis Urubko posted a nice video of he and Adam climbing the Black Pyramid and in  some of the upper Camps. Note melting water, this becomes one of the most critical parts of climbing a big mountain and takes a long time at these altitudes.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdenisurubko%2Fvideos%2F555046831554900%2F&show_text=0&width=560

You can follow them directly on their website, Facebook, and SPOT tracker.

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