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.

Continue reading

Advertisements

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

Teams
K2
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

K7
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

G-IV
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

Leave a Reply

* 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.

AddThis Feed Button


Mike Horn to climb Nanga Parbat.

Photo: Mike Horn

In a break from his ongoing Pole2Pole project, in which Mike Horn is trying to circumnavigate the earth via the polar regions, the South African adventurer has set out to climb Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world. Horn arrived at Base Camp on June 6 and is planning to climb the Diamir face. Success on Nanga Parbat would mark Horn’s sixth 8,000m peak.

Mike Horn’s lengthy list of achievements include his 2006 expedition to the North Pole in winter with Borge Ousland; a solo 6,500km traverse of the Amazon; and a full circumnavigation of the globe via the equator in 2001, by sailing, canoeing and walking. As part of his Pole2Pole journey, he has already traversed Antarctica solo and sailed the Southern Ocean.

Horn has arrived in Pakistan with his two daughters after an overland trip through southeast Asia. Photo: Mike Horn

Previous / Links:

Leave a Reply

* 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.

AddThis Feed Button


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/

AddThis Feed Button


Pakistani Officials Weigh in on Nanga Parbat Rescue Controversy.

The rescue operation that took place on Nanga Parbat a few weeks back continues to be a source of frustration and controversy. While climbers from K2 were able to rescue Elisabeth Revol, they weren’t able to climb higher to save Tomek Mackiewicz, which has created a contentious environment to say the least. Revol has expressed her anger over how slowly the operation came together, saying more than once that Tomek could have been saved had search and rescue teams responded more expediently. She has even said the company operating the helicopter raised the price of the flight in an effort to make more money off of the situation. While that remains under investigation, Pakistani officials have responded to criticism not just from Revol but the media as well, providing some insights into their side of the story.

In a post made to the Pakistan Mountain News page on Facebook officials made four points that they thought were important enough to share. Those points were as follows:

1. First, Pakistan is a developing economy and ‘Tourism’ sector receives much less attention. Despite, it has world’s best wonders. Neither there are institutions for high-demanding-skills rescue operation on mountain nor has it modern resource and equipment.
2. Second, these mountaineers go on Nanga Parbat at very economical package. Such economical packages do not cover many essentials. It is only their bravery and audacity that make them to summit in the winter.
3. Third, Askari Aviation does not have high-tech helicopters that can hover around in inclement weather condition. As it was coordinated rescue operation, nobody could help Tomek and Elisabeth in private capacity.
4. Lastly, Poland or French official authorities did not contact State of Pakistan officially after this rescue. However, Eisabeth was given utmost care and attention. The Chief Secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan enquired after her in hospital. She did not utter a word.

While some will probably look at this list and see a set of excuses, these are all very important things to keep in mind. Pakistan is indeed a developing country that doesn’t have the resources of some other nations when it comes fountaining these kinds of operations. It is also true that Tomek and Elisabeth’s expedition was a low-budget affair, leaving little room for error and not much in the way of a safety net if things went wrong. Unfortunately, things went very wrong, and they also didn’t have the resources for a rescue.

Askari Aviation is the company that has received a lot of venom for not reacting quicker and potentially trying to bilk more money out of the operation. But it is also probably true that they don’t have very sophisticated helicopter designed for use in the high mountains.

In other words, there are always multiple sides to a story and it is clear that we understand all of the variables at play. Clearly this is a complicated situation with a lot to think about. Sadly, Tomek lost his life, and because of that this will likely be a divisive topic for a long time to come.
Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – Pakistani Officials Weigh in on Nanga Parbat Rescue Controversy

** see also: – National Polish Winter K2 Expedition 2017/18.

Polish famous climbers – The golden decade of Polish Himalayan mountaineering.

AddThis Feed Button


Nanga Parbat: Appreciation, Finger Pointing and Lost Hope.

The echo of Tomek Mackiewicz’s death and Elisabeth Revol’s rescue continues to haunt Nanga Parbat, and in some ways the Pakistani mountaineering community.


Denis Urubko -Elisabeth Revol -Adam Bielecki

Mackiewicz’s wife, Anna Antoinette Solska, posted on his Facebook page a classy and emotional thank you to all involved in the search for her husband. It began:

I would like to express my profound gratitude to Elisabeth Revol for staying with Tom as long as possible, for bringing him as low as possible, for taking immediately a fight to save him, for words of comfort for me, which in such a dramatic situation both for Tom and her alone was able to direct me to tell me that he was doing everything he could to help him. She did everything in her power to that moment where she had to continue to fight to save her life too. We are unable to imagine the dramatic situation in which she found herself or the moral tragic choice she had to make. We have no right to judge. I’m with her all my heart to get better. Thank you for her love giving tomek to children, for her willingness to support children and Tom’s family. Eli, thank you.

Please read her entire post.

After Elisabeth Revol’s angry press conference where she lashed out at the Pakistanis, Polish and French embassies claiming their delays cost  Tomek Mackiewicz his life, she is now blaming the press for getting her story wrong. However, the French media BFMTV quoted the French climber, Revol, “I have a lot of anger in me, she continues. We could have saved Tomek had there been real relief made on time and organized.”

Her Facebook post starts:

Started by Messner, this path was to be the culmination of our physical and mental preparations, with tomek, we knew that the summit would not be easy.

Fifteen days we separate from this epic story widely reported by the press… reported, but also distorted, words extirpées, out of context.. I don’t want to report the facts, but rather tell you what, today , count to my eyes…

Please read her entire post.

Finally Pakistan Mountaineering News defended Pakistan on their Facebook with a series of four points (highlights only, please read entire post):

  1. First, Pakistan is a developing economy and ‘Tourism’ sector receives much less attention. Despite, it has world’s best wonders. Neither there are institutions for high-demanding-skills rescue operation on mountain nor has it modern resource and equipment.
  2. Second, these mountaineers go on Nanga Parbat at very economical package. Such economical packages do not cover many essentials. It is only their bravery and audacity that make them to summit in the winter.
  3. Third, Askari Avidiation does not have high-tech helicopters that can hover around in inclement weather condition. As it was coordinated rescue operation, nobody could help Tomek and Elisabeth in private capacity.
  4. Lastly, Poland or French official authorities did not contact State of Pakistan officially after this rescue. However, Eisabeth was given utmost care and attention. The Chief Secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan enquired after her in hospital. She did not utter a word.

Mackiewicz’s father was desperate to put together a team to retrieve his body. He found the money and the climbers, but the Pakistani Government said no – too much risk. I suspect they are weary of the criticism.

With Nanga over, time to focus on K2 and Everest. My best to all the climbers on all these teams.

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

Autor : Alan Arnette

* source: – K2 Progress, Everest Dancing, Tomek’s Wife Thanks Everyone

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

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).

AddThis Feed Button


Could Tomek Mackiewicz Have Been Saved on Nanga Parbat?

When it comes to mountaineering, second guessing is often a sport unto itself. Such is the case with the recent tragedy on Nanga Parbat, where Polish climber Tomek Mackiewicz lost his life, but a team of climbers on K2 risked their own to rescue French alpinist Elisabeth Revol. But now that the dust has settled, and the operation is being examined, Revol herself is lashing out at authorities in Pakistan, which she says didn’t do enough to help save her friend.

In an interview conducted on Wednesday, Revol said that she feels a lot of anger over the situation. She believes that Mackiewicz could have been saved had officials in Pakistan worked faster and been more forthright in their actions. The French climber says that she sent out an SOS to her husband, Tomek’s wife, and Ludovic Giambiasi, who was helping coordinate the expedition from back home. Those three jumped into action to try to get help for Revol and Mackiewicz, but were met with resistance and stalling on the part of the Pakistanis.
Perhaps the most disturbing element to the story is how the Pakistani helicopter rescue team began negotiating the price of starting the operation. According to reports, they initially wanted $15,000 to fly to Nanga Parbat to rescue Elisabeth and Tomak. But as things progressed, that price rose to $40,000 in cash and in advance, before the flight would ever leave the ground.
It should be also noted that while high altitude rescues have become fairly common on Everest and other big Nepali peaks, in Pakistan they remain fairly rare. The pilots and SAR teams don’t have much experience conducting such operations, which also makes them hesitant to go too high. Tomek was stranded at 7200 meters (23,622 ft), while Revol was told to descend down to 6300 meters (20,669 ft) to meet a rescue team. When she did that however, no one arrived to lend a hand and she was forced to spend another night exposed to the elements in a crevasse. This eventually led to her pulling her boots off while hallucinating, causing severe frostbite.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: