Showing posts with label Broad Peak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Broad Peak. Show all posts

Karakoram Summer 2016: The Final Summit Score of the Season

When last we checked in with the summer climbing season in the Karakoram there was team still working hard to complete their climb. That team consisted of Czech climbers Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula, who were hoping to summit Gasherbrum I along a new route. But poor weather conditions stranded the two men high on the mountain, leaving them waiting for days for a chance to either move up or down. Ultimately they would have to abandon their attempt, which they finally did last week, officially bringing the curtain down on the 2016 season. 

Now that everyone has left Pakistan for home, we can step back and take a look at how things actually went this year. As usual in the Karakoram, there were some triumphs and some disappointments, but thankfully there were no tragedies. 

ExWeb has posted a post-mortem for the climbing season that just wrapped up, providing some insights into everything that went down over the past few months. One of the highlights of the summer was the return of climbers to Nanga Parbat after three years of no teams attempting that mountain. Climbers have mostly steered clear of Nanga since the 2013 attack in Base Camp by a group of terrorists that left 10 people dead. But this year they started to return at last, and three people actually managed to summit.

Over on K2 it was another frustrating season, which is typical of the world's second tallest mountain. Weather often dictates when climbers can go up or down on K2, and this year was no different in that regard. But the real difficult came when a major avalanche destroyed Camp 3 on the mountain, wiping away a large cache of oxygen bottles with it. That left most of the teams no choice but to call it a day and head home. So, while 2016 will be remembered as a year that commercial climbing on K2 increased dramatically. In fact, there were more than 100 climbers on the mountain this year. But in the end the results were typical for the "Savage Mountain" – zero summits on what most believe to be the toughest 8000 meter peak to climb. 

In the end, there were only a handful of summits for the entire season. In fact, ExWeb says there were a total of 21. The final tale of the tape indicates that Gasherbrum I and II each had 8 summits, while Nanga Parbat had 3 and Broad Peak had 2. Those numbers are fairly typical for the Karakoram, where the climbing is always difficult, although on occasion we'll have some surprisingly successful years such as 2013 on K2 when more than 40 people reached the top. 

Now, with the Karakoram season all wrapped up, our attention will turn towards the Himalaya where the fall climbing season is now getting underway. There will be a couple of attempts on Everest from the North Side in Tibet, but for the most part it looks like a typical year there as well. Many climbers will be attempting Manaslu in the days ahead, with a few expeditions heading to Lhotse, Dhaulagiri, and a few sub-8000 meter peaks too.

Stay tuned in the days ahead, as we'll be keeping a close eye on those expeditions as they unfold. 

Karakoram 2016: Season Grinds to a Halt, Summit Video From Nanga Parbat

The climbing season in Pakistan is all but over for another year. For the most part, it was a very tough couple of months in the Karakoram and Himalaya as teams struggled with poor weather and challenging conditions. Summits were few and far between, although there were some successful bids here and there.

Our friend Alan Arnette has put together a wrap-up of the season on his blog with stats and updated summit numbers, the most glaring of which are from K2. As Alan points out there were a record number of permits issued for K2 this season – 112 in total – with a total of zero successful ascents. That gives you an idea of just how tough that climb is, and also how commercial squads are starting to take over the climbing scene there. But unlike Everest, K2 won't surrender its summit easily, and it will be a long time before the conditions are even remotely the same on those two peaks.

Elsewhere, Alan reports that one squad still remains in the region hoping to claim a late summit. A Czech team is still on Gasherbrum I where they are waiting out the weather. It remains to be seen if they'll get another crack at the summit, but the Gasherbrums have seen the most success this summer, so there is a chance we'll see a few more climbers reach the top before we're done.

Finally, we have this video that was shot on Nanga Parbat, where  Spaniard Ferran Latorre, Frenchman Hélias Millerioux and Bulgarian Bojan Petrov summited via the Kinshofer route on the Diamir Face. For Ferran it was his 14th 8000 meter peak, and a significant accomplishment. The video shows their final steps onto the summit.

CAT14x8000 Nanga Parbat 2016: Cim, Cumbre, Summit! from cat14*8000 on Vimeo.

Video: Paragliding Over Broad Peak

A couple of weeks back I posted a story about how extreme paraglider Antoine Girard set a new record by launching from 6500 meters (21,325 ft) in the Karakoram and then caught some thermals that allowed him to soar high enough that he actually climbed up to the summit of Broad Peak. At the time, I mentioned that there was a GoPro video of the flight, but it hadn't been released yet. Now, we have that video, which you'll find below. As you would expect, the short but breathtaking video includes some great shots of the Karakoram as Antoine soars up above those massive mountains. This one was definitely worth the wait.

Karakoram 2016: New Summit Bid Launched on Broad Peak

The summer climbing season in Pakistan is quickly coming to an end. After an avalanche wiped out C3 on K2, all of the teams departed that mountain for home, and following a couple of successful summit bids last week on Nanga Parbat, that mountain is all but deserted too. Now, a team of climbers have launched a new attempt on Broad Peak as well, and if all goes as planned they could top out today.

According to Spanish website Desnivel.com, a three-man team consisting of Oscar Cadiach, Manolo Gonzalez, and a local climber named Sahib are in the midst of a final summit push at this very moment. The trio left Base Camp and reached Camp 2 on Saturday, moved up to Camp 3 on Sunday, and are now in position to complete their ascent today.

The weather in the region is reportedly good, and should remain so for another day or two, but as always in the Karakoram, the conditions on the mountain can be fickle and change quickly. Still, the climbers seem poised to complete their expedition, and potential cap what has been a long and difficult season in the mountains.

If Cadiach is able to complete this climb successfully it would be his final 8000-meter peak. Having climbed all of the other 13 mountains of that height, only BP remained on his hit list. Even more impressive, he's managed to climb each of them without the use of bottled oxygen, putting him in very rare company indeed.

We'll keep an eye on the team's progress and report any updates as they come in. Hopefully they'll get up and down the mountain safely, whether they reach the summit or not.

Meanwhile, over on the Gasherbrums there are still a few teams still in place as well. I haven't heard any updates on their progress in recent days, so it is unclear of their current status.

More to come soon.

Extreme Paraglider Breaks 8000 Meter Mark in Pakistan

Here at The Adventure Blog we cover a lot of interesting stories about people climbing 8000-meter peaks. It isn't often however that we share a story about someone who found another way to reach the mythical 8000-meter mark that doesn't involve ropes, crampons, and down suits. Earlier this week it was revealed that French extreme paraglider Antoine Girard managed to do just that when he sailed above the summit of Broad Peak in Pakistan, rising to some 8100 meters (26,574 ft) in the process.

According to Brad Sander, an American adventure pilot living in Pakistan, Antione approached him a few weeks back inquiring about renting oxygen bottles for the flight. Sander called Girard's accomplishment "the flight of the century," while helping to fill in some of the details about how all of this came together.

Apparently, Antoine shoed up in Pakistan with a friend in tow. Unfortunately, that friend was part of the French military, so his entry visa was denied. This caused Girard to scramble his plans some, but he met up with some other paragliders in country that helped get him acclimated. After that, he took off for the Karakoram, where he spent three weeks exploring the area and making flights around the mountains there, including the 8126 meter (26,660 ft) Nanga Parbat.

Once he learned how the thermals in the area worked, and became accustomed to the weather conditions there, the Frenchman hatched a plan. Climbing up to the Baltoro Glacier, he camped for a couple of nights while he made his preparations. On July 23, he took flight, gliding over the famous Trango Tower on his way to Concordia, a place where few paragliders have ever flown before. From there, he could see Nanga Parbat, K2, and Broad Peak.

After he got the lay of the land, Antoine was ready to go for it. He climbed above 6500 meters (21,325 ft), then set off in his paraglider. Catching thermals he was able to rise higher and higher, eventually reaching the summit of Broad Peak itself, which sits at 8051 meters (26,414 ft). This makes him the first person to actually fly to the summit of an 8000 meter peak in this manner.

Antonie is currently in transit back to France, but we're told that he has GoPro footage of the flight. You can bet that we're eagerly waiting to see how that turns out. It should definitely be very interesting. In the mean time, you can read all about his adventure here.

Karakoram 2016: Summits on Nanga Parbat, It's Over on K2

More news from Pakistan today, where we learn that teams are continuing to make summit pushes on several mountains, while operations have indeed come to an end on K2 following the massive avalanche that hit that mountain over the weekend. As usual, the summer climbing season in the Karakoram remains as topsy-turvy and unpredictable as always.

We'll start with an update from Nanga Parbat, where ExWeb is reporting that Ferran Latorre, Helias Millerioux, and Boyan Petrov set off on a summit push yesterday, successfully topping out at 3:30 PM local time. The entire team returned to Camp 4 later that evening, and are now making their way back down the mountain today. For Latorre, this is his 13th 8000-meter peak, all of which have been summited without the use of supplemental oxygen.

It now appears that this may be the only successful climb on Nanga this year however, as most of the other teams are now preparing to head home. ExWeb says that the route just below the Kinshofer Wall is especially unsafe, discouraging any other climbers from proceeding upwards. It looks like Base Camp will be all but abandoned by this coming weekend.


Yesterday we reported that all commercial teams were also departing from K2 after a large avalanche wiped out Camp 3 over the weekend, destroying all of the tents erected there, while also sweeping away the fixed ropes and a cache of oxygen bottles. At the time, there were some independent climbers who were hoping to regroup and make another attempt on the summit sometime next week. Apparently, those climbers have now changed their mind, and will also be leaving BC over the next few days, making it now two years in a row without a single summit on K2.

Over on Broad Peak, poor weather has turned back the latest summit attempt by Spaniard Oscar Cadiach, but his work on the mountain is far from over. After descending yesterday to escape the conditions, Cadiach has now headed back up the mountain and is reportedly in Camp 3 and waiting for a chance to go higher. If he successfully climbs BP, this will be his 14th and final 8000-meter peak, all climbed without supplemental O's.

Finally, on both Gasherbrum I and II, current summit bids have been turned back due to poor weather. Teams are starting to leave those two mountains as well, although ExWeb says there are other climbers who are in Base Camp and waiting for their attempts on the mountain. While summit bids are certainly not imminent, there will be more attempts coming in the days ahead.

That's it for now. More to come soon.

Karakoram 2016: Avalanche Ends Season on K2, Summit Pushes Begin Elsewhere

I'm back from the wilds of Mongolia and am catching up on all the news from the world of outdoor adventure that took place while I was away. One of the big stories we had been following before my departure was the unfolding of the climbing season in the Karakoram and Western Himalaya. When I left, the teams were still getting settled into Base Camp, and were beginning their first acclimatization rotations. Now, a few weeks later, the situation is very different, with climbing operations coming to an end on one mountain, while the final summit pushes are underway on others.

The big news from this past weekend is that a massive avalanche on K2 has brought an end to the season on the world's second tallest mountain. The avalanche hit Camp 3 on Saturday morning, destroying the tents that were built there, while also washing away the fixed ropes and cache of bottled oxygen that was put in place for upcoming summit bids. Fortunately, no one was in C3 at the time, although there were several teams in Camp 2 and other points on the mountain. All have retreated back to BC due to bad weather conditions.

Now, it seems the teams have decided that the mountain is too unsafe to climb this year, and it appears that most are packing their bags to go home. The avalanche wiped out a lot of hard work to fix ropes and establish C3. With time starting to run short, poor weather a common occurrence, and a lack of bottled oxygen, it now seems like the season is over, at least for the major commercial teams. There are a few independent climbers who are hoping to rally the troops and have another go at the mountain however. They are currently eyeing an early-August attempt, weather permitting.


Meanwhile, ExWeb is reporting that the final summit pushes are now underway on Nanga Parbat and Broad Peak. Fern Latorre, Helias Millerioux, Boyan Petrov are all pushing to the top of NP today, while Spaniard Oscar Cadiach and his team are hoping to top out on BP. ExWeb says that if Cadiach is successful, this will be his 14th and final 8000 meter peak for his resume, all of which have been climbed without the use of bottled oxygen.

Finally, over on Gatherbrum II, a Polish team has been struggling with poor weather all season. They had hoped to reach the top early this week, but deteriorating conditions on that mountain were enough to keep them confined to their tents over the weekend. There are no updates on their progress at this time, but hopefully we'll know more soon.

That's it from Pakistan for today. I'll continue to keep an eye on the mountains for further updates. The season is rapidly coming to close once again, but there are still a few stories to come I'm sure.

Karakoram 2016: Climbers in C2 on K2, Sherpa's Record Bid Denied by Pakistani Government

It is early in the summer climbing season in the Karakoram, but already the teams are on the move as they look to take advantage of good weather in the region. While teams are still getting settled elsewhere in Pakistan, on K2 the acclimatization rotations have begun. Climbers have already gone up to Camp 2 on that mountain, even as Sherpa teams work to install ropes to higher altitudes. 

Madison Mountaineering checked in yesterday with the news that their squad has arrived in C1 after a tough climb up 70º slopes. Today, they'll proceed up to C2, where they'll spend a night or two before returning to Base Camp. By all accounts, the entire team is doing well and proceeding according to plan. 

Also still in C2 is the international team that includes Vanessa O'Brien. They reached that point on the mountain yesterday as well, and will remain a couple of nights before descending. This allows their bodies to get use to the thinner oxygen ahead of an eventual summit attempt in about a months time. 

In other news from K2, The Himalayan Times is reporting that a Sherpa's record-setting bid was thwarted by the Pakistani government after he was sent home upon arriving in Islamabad. 25-year old Lakpa Sherpa had hoped to become the youngest person to scale K2 three times, but he was sent back to Kathmandu a day after arriving in Pakistan. 

Lakpa said that he passed through immigration without incident, but a day after his arrival he was contact by a government official and told he had to go home without any further explanation. Despite not being told why he was being shipped back to Nepal, the feeling is that the move was purely a political one. Pakistan has long hoped to generate a mountaineering infrastructure like that found in Nepal to help bolster its economy and employ more local climbers. But as K2 and other mountains continue to become commercialized, guiding companies are increasingly bringing more and more Sherpas into the country to assist and even lead those expeditions. The young climber, who has already summited Everest four times, believes that he won't be allowed back into Pakistan in the future as well, although he isn't sure exactly why.

As The Himalayan Times story points out, Lakpa's story isn't a unique one this summer. Australian climber Chris Jensen Burke had a similar experience when she attempted to enter Pakistan a few weeks back. She was forced to cancel her expedition as well without any clear-cut reason as to why she wouldn't be able to enter the country. It seems others have been sent home too. 

Meanwhile, over on Broad Peak, the Mountain Professionals have checked in and report that they have reached Camp 1 at 5600 meters (18,372 ft) on that mountain. They report snowy routes up steep slopes to reach that point, but everyone was able to climb up without much trouble and spent two nights there to begin their acclimatization process. Now, everyone is back in Base Camp and resting before preparing to head up to C2 in a few days time.

The report also indicates that a second team has now arrived on Broad Peak, but it is a small squad consisting of just four climbers. They won't be particularly helpful in fixing ropes, so it will fall on the Mountain Professionals squad to complete that work. They are currently installing the lines between C1 and C2, with the hope that another commercial team will arrive in the days ahead to help with the work. 

That's it for today. More news from the Karakoram soon. 

Karakoram Summer 2016: Teams Arrive in Base Camp, Moving Up Soon

When let we checked in on the teams looking to climb in the high mountains of Pakistan this summer they were mostly still gathering in Islamabad and preparing to fly out to Skardu to begin their journey to the various Base Camps spread out across the region. Now, more than a week later, those teams are now settling into BC and preparing to go higher.

Madison Mountaineering has checked in from K2, where the team has reportedly settled into Base Camp and is now preparing for its first rotation up the mountain. The weather is reportedly very good at the moment, and the Sherpa teams are already busy establishing ABC further up the mountain. The forecast looks good into this week, so it looks like the team will be on the move for a few days to take advantage of the situation. 

Similarly, the international team led by Vanessa O'Brien arrived in BC late last week. They've spent the weekend getting settled on the mountain and will likely be taking advantage of the current weather window to start their acclimatization as well. 

The Kobler & Partner expedition team also arrived in Base Camp last Thursday. That squad, which is made of very experienced 8000-meter climbers – quickly went to work getting settled as well, and are now looking upwards towards ABC and their first rotation up the mountain. 

Over on Broad Peak, the Mountain Professionals team has already finished their work to get settled and have now begun their first acclimation rotations as well. They're headed up to Camp 1 today where they'll spend two nights to allow their bodies to start to get use to the altitude. As of now, they are the only team on the mountain, although they have noted the steady stream of climbers making their way to BC on K2. It is unclear if any other teams will come to Broad Peak, so as a safety precaution the guides have ordered more rope and other climbing gear from Skardu just in case they have to go it alone. 

Finally, on Nanga Parbat the teams have started to gather as well. Spaniards Fernando Fernandez Vivancos and Jose Saldana Rodriguez have been on the mountain for several weeks now, and have had a good start to their acclimatization process. Other groups are still trickling in however, and will officially begin their climbs soon. 

The Karakoram climbing season is now officially underway, and over the next 4-6 weeks we'll be watching events unfold in the mountains of Pakistan. It looks like it will be one of the most interesting seasons in recent memory, with more teams on K2 than ever before. How that impacts the climb remains to be seen, but the notoriously difficult peak won't give up its summit easily. It should be fun to watch how things unfold. 



Karakoram 2016: K2 Ramps Up, Nanga Parbat Reopens

The spring Himalayan climbing season is over, and the teams of climbers that made it one of the most successful in recent memory have departed Nepal for home. Now, the mountaineering world turns its attention to the Karakoram, as climbers descend on Pakistan to attempt K2, Nanga Parbat, and other major mountains in the region. That summer season is now starting to ramp up, with a significant amount of attention now focused squarely on the second tallest mountain in the world.

According to ExWeb, there will be 33 teams of various sizes operating in Pakistan this summer. They'll be focused not just on K2, but also the Gasherbrums, Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat, and a host of other mountains that are not a part of the 8000-meter club. That will make this one of the busiest seasons in the Karakoram and western Himalaya as well, with some significant expeditions planned.

But it is the continued commercialization of K2 that is receiving a good deal of attention. ExWeb estimates that more than 100 climbers will attempt the "mountaineer's mountain" this summer, which is a larger number than has been seen in the past. Most are a part of a commercial team with Madison Mountaineering, Kobler & Partner, and Seven Summits Treks leading the way.


100 climbers on K2 is a significant number to say the least. While that isn't anywhere close to the number of alpinists on Everest (550+ are said to have summited this year alone), it is a lot of people on a mountain that is widely considered to be the hardest and most dangerous climb on Earth. It is most definitely not a mountain that you want to be caught in a traffic jam on, but that could be a real possibility with this many people making the attempt. Hopefully everyone will stay safe throughout the season.

Meanwhile, over on Nanga Parbat the mountain is opening up again after seeing no summits since 2013. That's when a group of armed gunmen attacked the camp, killing 11 people. Since then, no summer permits have been issued for the mountain, but that will change this year. A couple of small teams are headed to NP with the hope of demonstrating that it is safe to climb, and ready to begin welcoming mountaineers back to its challenging face.

At the moment, these teams are mostly still en route to their various Base Camps or still planning to set out for Pakistan. But things will start to pick up soon. It should be a very interesting season to watch unfold, with K2 remaining the crown jewel. Expect numerous updates on the progress of teams in the weeks ahead.


Summer Climbs 2015: Broad Peak Summit Details From Mariano Galvan

The summer climbing season is all but over in Pakistan. Just one team remains on the mountains, and we wait anxiously of news of their success or departure from Gasherbrum I. But now that the climbers have returned home, we're starting to get more details about some of the expeditions that took place in the Karakoram this year, with some remarkable efforts being putting fourth.

Until recently, it seemed that there had been only one summit of Broad Peak this year, with the success of Polish climber Andrzej Bargiel standing out in a tough season. But, Argentinian mountaineer Mariano Galvan also managed to top out on BP, finishing his solo ascent back in mid-July.

ExWeb reports the details of Mariano's climb, having pulled the news from a recent interview he did with a magazine. He says that he had no intention of climbing BP this year, but had instead come to the Karakoram to attempt K2 instead. When he got to Base Camp however, he found too many teams on the mountain for his liking, so he decided to shift focus and attempt Broad Peak. When he transferred over to that mountain however, he discovered the normal route to the top was chocked with snow, which was preventing teams from going very high on the mountain.

With the normal route blocked, Mariano decided to shift to an alternate route that had more rocks. That helped to make it more stable, but it was also more exposed as well. While he wouldn't have to contend with the risks of avalanche as much, he would face high winds that would buffet him along the way.


When he launched his summit bid, the Argentinian took the usual route up to Camp 3 at 6800 meters (22,309 ft) before diverting to his alternate path. He says it took just 11 hours to reach C3, as conditions were perfect, with little wind, warm temperatures, and high visibility. Those conditions may have lured him into a sense of over confidence however, as the following days would test his limits.

When he left C3 for the summit, Galvan took just one liter of water and some food. He was hoping to travel quick and light, and be up and down in less than 24 hours. It didn't quite work out that way, and he would come to regret leaving his sleeping bag, tent, and other gear behind. It was slow going along his alternate route, and after a full day of climbing he only managed to reach 7600 meters (24,934 ft) – still well below the summit.

Mariano ended up spending the night trying to sleep on a snow ledge where he dug in his crampons to keep him in place. It was precarious to say the least, and he got little sleep. The next day however, he was able to finish the final push to the top, reaching the summit without rope, and under extreme exhaustion. But as we all know, getting up is only half the battle, and he had to find a way to descend safely too.

That descent proved every bit as harrowing as he thought it would be, and if hadn't discovered a short piece of old rope, it may have been worse. Eventually he did get off the mountain safely however, and by the time he had finished he has spent more than 52 hours on his summit push alone. He would also go on to try for K2 with Carlos Suarez, but was forced to turn back under poor conditions.

You can read the full account of his climb, with more details, by clicking here.

Summer Climbs 2015: ExWeb Posts Summit Round-Up From Pakistan

The summer climbing season is all but over in Pakistan, with just one team remaining to attempt a late summit bid. Most of the squads have already departed their respective Base Camps for home, with only a minimum amount of success this year. In fact, it was one of the more difficult climbing seasons in the Karakoram that we've seen in recent years, with most of the climbers not even getting a sniff of the summit. Poor weather and dangerous conditions made it difficult for anyone to get very high on Broad Peak and K2 in particular, although there was some success on the Gasherbrums. 

As the season winds down, ExWeb has posted a complete round-up of the summits from the past few weeks, and as expected there aren't very many of them. Just one on Broad Peak, three on Gasherbrum I, and 13 on GII. Here's the full list according to ExWeb's sources.

Broad Peak
1. Andrzej Bargiel (Poland) : July 25th, 2015 
Gasherbrum I
1. Ferran Latorre (Spain) : July 24th, 2015
2. Yannick Graziani (France) : July 24th, 2015
3. Tom Seidensticker (Germany) : July 24th, 2015 
Gasherbrum II
1. Laura González del Castillo (Mexico) : July 16th, 2015
2. Yuri Contreras Cedi (Mexico) : July 16th, 2015
3. Ernst Felix : July 16th, 2015
4. Christof Bartmann : July 16th, 2015
5. Sophie Lavaud (France/Switzerland) : July 16th, 2015
6. Ngima Chhiring Lama (Nepal) : July 16th, 2015
7. Muhammad (Pakistan) : July 16th, 2015
8. Kinga Baranowska (Poland) : July 17th, 2015
9. Kinga’s HAP (Pakistan) : July 17th, 2015
10. Richard Hidalgo (Peru) : July 24th, 2015
11. Martin Gildemeister (Chile) : July 24th, 2015
12. Czech Climber 1 : July 24th, 2015
13. Czech Climber 2 : July 24th, 2015
As you can see, two Czech climbers on GII remain unidentified, although they did manage to top out on July 24. The Explorers Web staff promises to update their list once those individuals are identified.


The most impressive climb of the season definitely goes to Polish mountaineer Andrezej Bargiel, who was able to complete a solo summit of BP, and make a ski descent, in under 8 hours. I've seen his summit listed elsewhere as "unofficial," but unless he can't produce summit photos – which sometimes happens on solo climbs – his expedition will go down as one of the most daring in recent years, especially considering the conditions from this season and lack of summits over all.

ExWeb also indicates that there are two Czech climbers who remain in Base Camp on the Gasherbrum Massif. They are reportedly acclimatized and ready to go, but are waiting for good weather before beginning their summit push. According to the report, they have completed acclimatization efforts on GII, and will now attempt to go up the Southwest Face in Alpine Style.

Hopefully they'll have more luck than most of the other squads this season. I'll report more on their efforts as the news breaks.

Summer Climbs 2015: More Teams Depart the Karakoram, Success Elsewhere

The long and difficult summer climbing season in Pakistan looks like it may be truly finished now. Earlier in the week numerous teams announced their intentions to leave Base Camp on K2 and Broad Peak, but there were still a few holdouts who were hoping to summit those mountains. Now, it seems that those teams have packed and left as well, bringing the curtain down on the season at last.

A few days back we noted that Nick Cienski's 6 Summits Challenge team was still in BC and hoping to have another crack at Broad Peak before calling an end to the expedition. But yesterday, Nick and his squad succumbed to the inevitable, calling off their plans to attempt one more summit bid. In a dispatch posted to the 6 Summits Facebook page it was revealed that conditions remain incredibly bad above 25,000 feet (7620 meters), with deep snow making it impossible to reach the summit.

While on Broad Peak this summer, Nick made three separate attempts to top out, but he and his teammates were turned back each time. Heavy snows up top and unseasonably warm temperatures at lower altitudes have simply made the mountain too dangerous to climb, and with time running out on the summer season, it is time to head home at last.

Nick's original plan for the year was to climb six different 8000-meter peaks, but bad luck has prevented him from claiming any at all. His spring climbing season in Nepal was cut short by the massive April 25 earthquake, and now extremely poor weather in the Karakoram has killed his chances of nabbing any summits this summer too. Where he'll go with his project remains to be seen.


The 6 Summits Challenge crew aren't the only ones who have decided to pull the plug on their expeditions. Aussie climber Chris Jensen Burke has also left BC for home. She said that her team was living in denial the past few days, waiting beyond home for a chance to summit. But it simply isn't in the cards this year, so she has already begun the journey back to Skardu as well.

This summer season stands in stark contrast to last year, when more than 40 people were able to summit the mighty K2. This year there were no summits it all on that mountain, and just one on Broad Peak. It was certainly a reminder of just how difficult it typically is to climb on those mountains.

The season hasn't been a complete loss however. ExWeb is reporting that Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman achieved the first ascent of the West Summit of Link Sar, a 6938 meter (22,762 ft) peak in the Karakoram range. The climb took seven days to complete, and the initial objective was the main summit, but when conditions proved too dangerous to complete that plan, they switched to the West Summit instead. Climbing.com has details on the expedition, and what it was like for them on this remote mountain where the weather was just as bad as elsewhere, but they had a few more variables go their way.

Congrats to Jon and Andy on completing a great climb. It is good to see that the mountains didn't turn everyone back this year. The rest of the teams are now making their way home, and our attention will start to turn to the fall climbing season back in Nepal and Tibet.

Summer Climbs 2015: Controversy Brewing in the Mountains

There isn't much new to report in terms of the movements of the teams in Pakistan. Most have either left Base Camp for the return home, or are preparing to do so in the next few days. A few remain behind, holding out hope that they'l still get a crack at the summit on Broad Peak or possibly even K2, although the chances of either happening seem remote. But even as the summer season winds down, there is now controversy brewing in the mountains with the ethics of some climbers being called into question.

ExWeb has posted a disturbing article today that I'm sure will leave some members of the mountaineering community very disappointed. Apparently, in a video posted to Mike Horn's Facebook page the body of a fallen climber can be seen, which goes against the code of conduct that most climbers will abide by while documenting their expeditions.

According to the ExWeb story, the warm weather on K2 this year has melted a lot of the snow and ice there, possibly revealing the body in question. The fact that it appears in one of Horn's video has upset some other mountaineers, including Louis Rousseau, who wrote the Swiss climber an impassioned letter about the inclusion of the dead body in a video promoting his K2 climb. ExWeb has a copy of that letter, and has posted it in the article that I linked to above.

I have to say that while I haven't seen the video that Rousseau is referring to, so I don't know what context the body was shown. It could have been an inadvertent shot, or it could have been done on purpose. Either way, Rousseau is right that it is disrespectful to the climber, and his friends and family, to show images of the body, and I'm sure that the Swiss climbers would agree with that sentiment. I have no doubt that Horn will take the video down when given the opportunity. I don't know him at all, but he doesn't strike me as the kind of person who would try to capitalize on the misfortune of others.


Unfortunately, this isn't the only story that is brewing up controversy in the mountains of Pakistan at the moment. In the same article, ExWeb says that there are accusations coming from climber Andrzej Bargiel of climbers failing to assist in the search for Olek Ostrowski, who went missing on GII last weekend after attempting a summit bid and ski descent. Apparently just there high altitude porters went up to look for the missing man, with none of the other teams in BC offering to lend a hand.

Bargiel says that he had just descended from Broad Peak when he heard that Ostrowski had gone missing, and immediately left for the Gasherbrum Massif. In an interview with a Polish climbing magazine, Andrezej says the he feels ashamed for those who did not lend a hand, adding that they felt a summit bid was more important than trying to locate a missing compatriot. Worse yet, he says that there were climbers not just in BC, but in Camps 1 and 2 as well. None came to their aid.

Both of these stories are hard to read, and generally not indicative of the mountaineering community as a whole. Still, the latter story does give an indication of the attitude that climbers had on the Gasherbrums this year, and it is very sad that they wouldn't help search for Olek.

Hopefully this is just an anomaly and not a trend in attitudes.

Summer Climbs 2015: 6 Summits Challenge Team Awaits Opportunity on Broad Peak

I've written about Nick Cienski and his 6 Summits Challenge a couple of times in recent months. In case you're not familiar with the expedition, Nick has set a goal of reaching the top of no less than six 8000-meter peaks in a single year – a difficult proposition to say the least. But he hasn't exactly had a lot of luck go his way so far, as his original plans were to summit Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu this past spring. That didn't happen due to the horrendous earthquake that took place in Nepal, and the plan had to be quickly altered to deal with the situation.

In recent weeks, Nick has been in Pakistan, where he has been preparing to climb Broad Peak and K2 in an effort to keep the 6 Summits Challenge on track. But if you've been following the season there, you already know that it has been a difficult one. Poor weather and unstable conditions on both of those mountains have limited access to the higher portions of those peaks, and to date there has been only a single summit on BP, and none at all on K2.

But Nick is a patient man, and despite the fact that most teams have now abandoned Base Camp on K2 and Broad Peak, he seems as determined as ever to reach the top of one, if not both, of those mountains. There has been no indication from his Facebook page, Twitter feed, or journal entries that he is preparing to depart with the rest of the teams, and the latest update on FB says that he and his climbing partners are waiting for better weather to launch a summit bid on Broad Peak.

If a weather window does open, the push to the top will not be easy. You might recall that earlier in the week, the Himex squad made an attempt on the summit of BP but were turned back due to incredibly deep snow near the top. Those conditions aren't likely to have improved much, and breaking trail at such high altitudes is never easy. Still, Nick and his team are committed to the 6 Summits Challenge, and are hoping to at least get a legitimate shot at topping out.


Meanwhile, there are other climbers who have yet to indicate just what their plans are for the days ahead. For instance, Chris Jensen Burke hasn't updated her blog in a few days, but in her last dispatch she indicated that she and her teammates were in a holding pattern on Broad Peak and were waiting for better weather. There hasn't been a word out of Canadian climber Al Hancock all season, so it is unclear exactly where he is on the mountain. Presumably there are a few smaller teams still on BP awaiting their opportunity as well.

Traditionally, the climbing season in Pakistan runs through the first week of August or so, which indicates that there is still some time for conditions to improve and climbs to be completed. While the majority of teams have now left their respective Base Camps, there is a chance that we could still see some summits on Broad Peak in particular. K2 wouldn't be completely out of the question, but judging from reports, it seems highly unlikely.

Stay tuned. I'll continue to keep an eye on the situation, and post updates as warranted.

Summer Climbs 2015: More Teams Depart K2, Summit Push on Broad Peak Thwarted, Tragedy on Gasherbrum II

The summer climbing season in Pakistan is quickly coming to an end as numerous teams prepare to depart their Base Camps for the long trek home. It has been a frustrating year in the Karakoram, where deep snow and generally poor weather have prevented most climbers from achieving their goals. But it isn't over just yet, and there are still a few teams in holding patterns, although their chances of success don't look great at this point. 

We'll start today back on K2, where more teams have called it quits. Yesterday I noted that some of the big commercial squads had elected to pull the plug on their expeditions due to safety concerns high on the mountain, and today we learn that others have decided it is time to go home as well. They include the Swiss team of Mike Horn, Fred Roux, and Köbi Reichen, who were the first squad to arrive in BC this year. They made two attempts at the summit, and were turned back by heavy snow both times. They now feel that their best opportunity is behind them, and have begun preparing to start the trek back to Askoli. 

The Swiss team isn't the only ones who are leaving. The Seven Summits Treks commercial team is also preparing to depart as well, as is Philippe Gatta who announced on his Facebook page that he'll hit the trail starting tomorrow. Essentially, just about everyone is now abandoning K2 Base Camp, which means there will likely be no summits on the mountain at all this year. That stands in stark contrast to the amazing summer of 2014 when more than 40 climbers stood on top of the "Savage Mountain." 

Over on Broad Peak, one day after abandoning their attempt to climb K2, the Himex team launched a summit bid early today, setting out for Camp 3 in light snowfall. Later that would turn into a full-blown storm, with heavy snow falling on the upper slopes of the mountain. The climbers attempted to wait out the storm, but as they pressed forward they found deep, unstable snow that convinced them it was time to turn back. Everyone is back in BC now, and the Himex expedition is over on Broad Peak too. The entire team is now preparing to leave.

There are still a few teams in Base Camp on BP that are waiting to see if they'll get a chance to summit. The weather forecast into next week is not promising, but there is a chance that things will improve after that. The remaining squads are just holding on for a glimmer of hope, but at the moment it appears that there just might be only one summit on Broad Peak for the entire season. 

Finally, ExWeb is reporting that efforts to locate a missing climber on Gasherbrum II has been called off. Polish mountaineer/skier Olek Ostrowski went missing this past weekend when he was descending from Camp 2 to Camp 1. He had been attempting to summit the mountain, and then make a ski descent, but bad weather forced him to turn back. It is believed that he fell into a crevasse on the descent, but all attempts to find him came up empty. Continued bad weather and deteriorating conditions have hampered any further efforts to find Olek, who is now believed to have lost his life on the mountain. My condolences to his friends and family. 

That's all for today. It is now safe to say that there won't be many more updates from Pakistan this summer. The season is almost at an end, and it has been a difficult one to say the least. I'll continue to monitor the situation on the ground there, but for the most part there will be few teams left to report on as of tomorrow. 

Summer Climbs 2015: Teams Pull the Plug on K2 Expeditions

It has been a busy and eventful week on the big mountains in Pakistan. When I last posted an update a number of teams were getting ready to make summit pushes on Broad Peak and K2 in anticipation of a weather window opening up this past weekend. Now, the situation has changed dramatically, with a number of major teams calling it quits for the season amidst potentially dangerous conditions on both mountains.

When last we checked in, the Swiss team of Mike Horn, Fred Roux, and Köbi Reichen were high on K2 and preparing to push towards the summit. The team had gone up to Camp 3 at 6800 meters (22,309 ft) and were expecting good weather. But as they climbed higher, the team ran into unstable conditions and deep snow, which convinced them to decide to turn around and return to Base Camp. At the moment, it is unclear whether or not they'll make another attempt, although there have been rumblings that the team is preparing to leave the mountain.

What is clear however is that the major commercial teams on K2 are calling it quits for the season. ExWeb is reporting that both Himex and Madison Mountaineering have decided that conditions are too unsafe to proceed up the mountain, and so both squads are preparing to head home. There are reports of deteriorating conditions, with rock falls, avalanches, and deep snow all making it difficult to climb up. Considering the reputation K2 has for being incredibly dangerous under the best of conditions, it seems wise to move on without endangering any more climbers.

To make matters worse for some teams, there was an avalanche a few days back in ABC that wiped out several camps there, and buried gear and supplies. Some of the teams have gone up to see if they can locate their equipment, while others have seen this as a sign to head home. That avalanche was another reminder just how unstable things are on the mountain this season, which could result in zero summits. Considering the level of success last year, the 2015 season is a stark reminder of why K2 is considered the most difficult mountain in the world to climb.


Over on Broad Peak, a smilier story is being told. A major summit push was launched late last week, with some teams hoping to reach the top this past weekend. Unfortunately, as they neared heights of 7800 meters (25,590 ft) the teams discovered extremely deep snow that made it impossible to continue climbing. The squads were forced to break trail at an excruciatingly slow pace, which ended up leaving them exhausted. Most turned back without ever getting close to the top.

There are some teams that preparing to go up in the next day or two, depending on weather. Amongst them is the Himex team, which is now on a deadline. Their porters are scheduled to arrive back in BC  on Friday of this week, which means that climbing operations must be wrapped up by then. Right now, the team gives itself a "50/50" chance of summiting, with weather conditions and the heavy snow on the slopes ultimately determine their fate.

Australian climber Chris Jensen Burke is taking a "wait and see" approach to continuing her climb on Broad Peak. She says that the difficult conditions there have turned back all summit pushes thus far, and that she is uncertain of whether or not her team will have an opportunity to go up. At the moment, the squad is waiting for an appropriate weather window and will assess the situation should one open up.

Curiously, Burke says that there has been a lack of cooperation and teamwork on BP this summer, which has led to general disorganization amongst the teams. As a result, it has been more difficult for anyone to launch a summit bid since there has been no organized approach to fixing ropes or planning for shared trail breaking efforts.

After reading all of these reports, the bottom line is that it isn't looking good for the K2 and Broad Peak expeditions this season. From the sounds of things, this isn't just about waiting for good weather, as conditions on the upper slopes of both mountains are incredibly treacherous right now. The summer season will rapidly come to an end in the next week or two, with little chance of anyone reaching the top after that. Patient teams are trying to give themselves the best opportunity they can, but it simply might not be in the cards for anyone to top out this year. Like those climbers, we'll have to be patient too, and hope for the best. At this point, lets hope everyone gets off the mountain safely.

Summer Climbs 2015: Update on Broad Peak Avalanche

On Monday I posted the news that an avalanche had claimed the life of a climber on Broad Peak, and injured at least two others. At the time, the story was still developing, and there weren't a lot of details to be had. Since then, we've learned a bit more about the situation, and we now know more about the mountaineers who were involved with the accident.

According to reports, the avalanche occurred at about 11:00 AM local time on Monday morning. A group os seven climbers were moving up the mountain near Camp 1 when the accident occurred. The avalanche swept down the mountain and hit the group, claiming the life of a Pakistani high altitude porter in the process.

As it turns out, there were three climbers who were injured in the accident as well. One is Japanese, another is Chinese, while the third is a Nepali sherpa who was helping lead the team. The nature of their injuries isn't clear however.

The incident took place following a night of heavy, wet snowfall that has made for unstable conditions in recent days. That poor weather has persisted in the days that have followed, making it impossible to evacuate the injured climbers from the mountain. Hopefully things will improve soon so that these men can get the attention they need, and the mountain has time to settle before summit bids begin. We're now approaching late-July, which is traditionally when teams start to look for an opportunity to summit both BP and K2. But unless the weather improves, it could be a really dangerous time to be high up on either mountain.

My condolences go out to the friends and family of the fallen Pakistani climber. Hopefully the rest of the summer climbing season will pass without further casualties.

Summer Climbs 2015: Avalanche on Broad Peak Leaves One Climber Missing, Two Injured

There is a breaking story coming out of Pakistan this morning that indicates that there has been an avalanche on Broad Peak that has left one climber missing and two others seriously injured. The incident reportedly occurred at Camp 1 on the mountain a short time ago, but details of what has happened remain sketchy at this time.

The first-hand account of the avalanche comes from British climber David Tait, who witnessed it from Base Camp on K2. Tait described the scene as "sobering," and said as far as he knew, the number of people that were caught up in the avalanche are the three mentioned thus far. No names were given as of yet, although he does say that reports of the injured and dead fluctuated wildly in the immediate aftermath of the avalanche.

Meanwhile, the latest dispatch from the Himex team also mentions the avalanche, but offers few other details either. That post confirms that the avalanche took place at C1 on Broad Peak, and that climbers, Sherpas, and even a high altitude porter may have been caught in the slide. Himex support crew were standing by to lend a hand if needed, but otherwise there wan't much else to report at this time.

For now, we'll just have to wait for more information to be revealed. Hopefully the death toll doesn't rise any further, and the majority of climbers in Camp 1 are safe.


As the season has progressed, it seems that the teams on both BP and K2 are now ready to make their summit bids. The acclimatization rotations are now nearing an end, and most climbers appear to be ready. Of course, it will be the weather that determines when they can ultimately go up, but Chris Jensen Burke says that the route fixers are scheduled to leave BC tomorrow and go to work on installing the ropes to the summit. That means that we could have climbers standing on top as early as this coming weekend.

The weather on Broad Peak and K2 is currently being uncooperative. A slow moving system has descended on the region, dropping rain and snow on both mountains, although winds are reportedly quite low. It's not clear yet how that weather patter will impact the coming summit push, but it could delay things a bit, particularly on K2.

Finally, it is being reported by a number of sources that Pakistani climber Samina Baig has left K2 after suffering an injury. The young woman has become a shining light for female climbers in her home country, where few are actually allowed to go to the mountains. In her short career, she has already conquered the Seven Summits, becoming the youngest person from Pakistan to climb Mt. Everest in the process. She had hoped to follow that up with a successful climb of K2 at home, but will now have to put off those ambitions.

That's all for now. I'll share more information on the avalanche when it is released.

Summer Climbs 2015: Summit Bids Begin in Pakistan

It has been a busy week in the Himalaya and Karakoram of Pakistan, where a number of teams are now wrapping up their acclimatization rotations on Broad Peak, which will allow them to launch summit bids in the very near future. But while those climbers wait for a proper weather window to open, other are already starting for their own summits on K2 and the Gasherbrums. 

The Swiss team of Mike Horn, Fred Roux, and Köbi Reichen have been on K2 longer than anyone else, and they wrapped up their final acclimatization round last week. After returning to Base Camp, the trio had to wait for poor weather to pass before launching their summit bid, which began two days ago. The plan is to reach 7500 meters (24,606 ft) today with the hopes of pressing on to the top in another day or two, provided the weather remains good.

Meanwhile, ExWeb is reporting that summit bids are also underway on Gasherbrum I and II, where a weather window opened yesterday and teams have begun moving up to take advantage of it. On GI, independent climbing teams have joined forces to work together on their push to the top, while the commercial squad of Kobler & Partner is organizing the summit push on GII. Ropes have been fixed on both peaks to Camp 3, which is where the climbers are headed today. Once there, they'll evaluate the situation, check the weather forecasts, and decide whether or not they should proceed up to the summit. 

The Madison Mountaineering team climbed up to Camp 2 on K2 today as they continued to acclimatize on that mountain. The squad's latest dispatch indicates that everyone is doing well and progressing according to plan. 

Australian climber Chris Jensen Burke is back on Broad Peak this year, where she missed out on the summit last summer but still managed to nab K2. She indicates that her team has completed its first acclimatization rotation, spending the night in Camp 1. Chris is back in BC now however, but will soon go back up once again, this time touching C2 as she prepares for an eventual summit bid. She reports very good weather on the mountain at the moment, which bodes well for the climbers. 

Also on BP is Billi Bierling, who will be going for the double header of Broad Peak and K2 this year. She's back in K2 Base Camp at the moment, where she is resting up before heading up the slopes to Camp 3. She says that things are also going well, and that she hopes to top out sometime near the end of the month. 

That's it for today. I'll be keeping an eye on the current summit bids to see how everyone fares. If the weather holds, than we could see the first summits of the season in the next few days.