Showing posts with label Pakistan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pakistan. Show all posts

Video: Expedition to K7 with Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Brady Robinson

While patrolling around the web looking for great videos to share, I often come across some that are little older, but still plenty interesting to watch. Take this one for example. It is a full documentary about a 2001 expedition to K7, a 6934 meter (22,749 ft) peak located in the Karakoram Range of Pakistan. In the video, we'll follow mountaineers Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Brady Robinson as they take on this massive, and incredibly difficult peak. There are some that believe that this adventure served as a warm-up for Conrad and Jimmy's attempt on Meru, which was documented in the amazing film of the same name. Give it a watch below.

Winter Climbs 2017: Expeditions Now Underway

Winter is here, and that means we'll have some interesting expeditions to follow closely over the next few months. A few weeks back it seemed like there would be little winter action this year, but there are a couple of good stories to watch unfold, including some in the Himalaya, including the first winter expedition to Everest in quite some time. Let's start there. 

Spanish climber Alex Txikon and climbing partner Carlos Rubio, along with a small support team, spent the New Year in Nepal, where they are currently trekking to Everest Base Camp. They plan to climb the highest mountain on the planet during the toughest season of them all. Alex and his team arrived in the Khumbu Valley on December 29, and have slowly been making their way towards Everest ever since. The trek is the start of the acclimatization process, but they should reach Base Camp later this week. Once there, they'll likely spend a day or two getting settled and surveying the landscape before they start the process of moving through the Khumbu Icefall and traveling up to Camp 1 as the climb truly begins.

Meanwhile, Elisabeth Revol has set her sights on climbing Manaslu during the winter. She trekked to BC on that mountain last week, and arrived there on December 28. Since that time, she's been focused on acclimatizing and getting settled in preparation for her first rotation up the mountain, which should come soon. Elisabeth says that conditions are cold and windy, as you would expect in the Himalaya during the winter months. 

Solo climber Lonnie Dupre is preparing to depart on his winter expedition as well. Dubbed Cold Hunter One, he plans to climb the 4441 meter (14,573 ft) Mt. Hunter in Alaska, which is a cold, remote, and technically difficult mountain in just about any season, let alone winter. You may recall that Lonnie made a solo summit of Denali in January a couple of years back, and he expects this expedition to be just as challenging, despite the big difference in altitude. He is preparing to depart for Base Camp today, weather permitting. As usual, he'll catch a bush plane out to this starting point when conditions allow.

Finally, ExWeb is reporting that a pair of climbers have launched a winter expedition in the Karakoram as well. Qudrat Ali and Samiya Rafiq first planned to take on an unclimbed 6200 meter (20,341 ft) peak in the region near Khurdopin Pass. The two climbers will then push on up through that pass as well, which is the highest in the mountain range at 5790 meters (18,996 ft). Conditions are expected to be brutal with temperatures dropping as low as -30ºC/-22ºF, with high winds and heavy snow likely. The expedition began back on December 24, and is set to wrap up on January 12, so it is a brief but tough excursion into the mountains. 

That's it for today. Expect more updates on these expeditions as the season unfolds. 

Video: K2 By Drone!

There is no question that K2 is amongst the most dangerous and difficult mountains to climb on the entire planet. It also happens to be located in a remote and beautiful place that most of us won't have the opportunity to see for ourselves. But, thanks to this wonderful short film, you can make the journey, and get some stunning images of the landscapes around the mountain too. It was shot by drone pilot and filmmaker Petr Jan Juračka, who traveled to K2 with Czech climber Klára Kolouchová. The results speak for themselves. Check out the clip below to get a look at this incredible place.

No Major Winter Climbing Expeditions This Year?

Now that the fall climbing season in the Himalaya is done, we would typically turn our attention to the winter climbing season that would usually get underway near the end of December. But, it appears that there won't be any major expeditions to the big mountains this year as numerous teams take a break and look forward to next year.

According to a blog post by German adventure sports journalist Stefan Nestler, two of the more prominent names in winter mountaineering are staying home for sure this year. Polish climber Tomek Mackiewicz has been a staple on Nanga Parbat the last six years, but he won't be going this winter. He says that he couldn't raise the funds necessary to launch the expedition, which was probably made all the more difficult considering Italian climber Simone Moro, along with Basque mountaineer Alex Txikon, and the Pakistani Muhammad Ali “Sadpara”, put up the first winter ascent of that mountain last February. They were accompanied on that expedition by Tamara Lunger, who was forced to turn back due to illness. Lunger says she'll pass on a winter ascent this year as well as she focuses on getting her helicopter pilots license instead. Next year, she hope to attempt Everest in winter however.

As of now, there are no expeditions announced for any of the Himalaya or Karakoram peaks. That could obviously change, as a lot of climbers keep their plans close to the vest until they're ready to set out. But now that K2 is the last remaining 8000-meter peak that has not been climbed during the winter months, it seems most have decided to stay home. K2 is treacherous enough under the best of conditions, but is even more deadly in the winter. That said, there are already some teams gearing up for a winter expedition to that peak as well, it is just a matter of when they will go.

Nestler reports that Indian climber Arjun Vajpai has announced that he'll make a winter ascent of a 7000-meter peak in his home country, but he hasn't said which one just yet. The 23-year old mountaineer has already summited five 8000-meter peaks, and appears to have a promising career ahead. How he does on a winter climb should be interesting to follow.

While at the moment it doesn't appear that we'll have any big winter climbs this season, that doesn't mean that there won't be interesting expeditions to keep an eye on. Last year, Moro and Lunger didn't go to Nanga Part until well into January, and we could see something similar this season. Perhaps we'll have a few expeditions pop up on the radar as the winter gets rolling along. But if not, 2017 is already shaping up to be a promising one for winter mountaineering.

Search for Missing American Climbers in Pakistan Called Off

Last week the news broke that American climbers Kyle Dempster and Scott Adamson had gone missing while climbing the Ogre II in Pakistan. At the time, we had heard that desperate family members had launched a GoFundMe page asking for donations to help pay for a search and rescue operation, with the climbing community responding by donating more than $197,000 to help with those efforts. But today we get the sad news that the search for the two men has been called off, with both now presumed to be dead.

Dempster and Adamson were last seen climbing the 7285 meters (23,901 ft) mountain, which also goes by the name of Baintha Brakk, back on August 22. At that point, they were moving up the slopes with the hopes of making a summit bid on the a peak that is considered one of the toughest in the world. Their camp chef reported that he could clearly see their headlamps on the ascent, but later clouds moved in, shrouding them from sight.

Since then, there has been no sign of the men, who were due back in Base Camp by August 26. A few days later, the search and rescue operation was launched, although those efforts were thwarted by poor weather.

This past Saturday, September 3, two helicopters were finally able to get into the air and survey the landscape on and around the mountain. The crews of those two teams, aided by mountaineer Thomas Huber, made an extensive search of the routes that Kyle and Scott had intended to ascend and descend by, as well as the rest of the mountain as well. Those searches turned up no signs of the missing men, and by the end of the day the helicopters returned to their base empty-handed.

Experts now believe that considering how much time has passed since they were last seen, and the ongoing poor weather in the area, that there is very little hope that the two men could have survived this long. With that sobering thought in mind, they have now called off further search operations.

This is obviously sad news for the mountaineering community, but more so for the friends and families of the two missing men. My condolences to those who were closest to them.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Nobu Heads to Everest, Climbers Missing in Pakistan


The fall climbing season is upon us with several expeditions already underway in Nepal, while others begin to ramp up elsewhere. Last week several large teams set out for Manaslu, which will be a popular peak this season. Those climbers are just now getting settled into Base Camp where they will soon begin their acclimatization process. But elsewhere, things are starting to get very interesting.

Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki reportedly left Kathmandu for Lhasa, Tibet yesterday. After making five previous attempts to climb Everest from the South Side in Nepal, he'll make his sixth attempt from the North Side instead. Kuriki says that after he acclimates, he'll attempt to climb the Great Couloir route in alpine style solo and without oxygen.

In 2015, Kuriki attempted the same approach from the South Side only to be turned back at Camp 4 due to high winds and deep snow. This year he hopes to have more success, with a change in scenery helping to bolster is efforts. Back in 2012 he famously got stranded high on Everest and had to be rescued, but severe frostbite cost him parts of nine fingers. 

Hopefully he'll find more success this year. 

When he gets to BC on the North Side he won't be alone. Spanish ultrarunner Kilian Jornet is already there, and has been acclimatizing for his attempt at a new speed record on Everest. He'll also make one push up the mountain, climbing without oxygen, and incredibly lightweight gear. There is no word yet on when that attempt might come, and there have been few updates on his progress in recent days. For now, we wait.

Finally, there is some sad news out of Pakistan, where the Karakoram climbing season has essentially just wrapped up. Climbers Kyle Dempster and Scott Adamson have gone missing on the Ogre II, and search and rescue operations are currently underway there. 

The duo haven't been seen in last Monday – August 22. On that evening, the headlamps of the two American's were spotted heading up the mountain but poor weather moved in over the ensuing days, obscuring the view from Base Camp. Dempster and Adamson had planned to spend five days on their summit bid, which would have put them back in BC by August 26. There has been no word from them however, so friends and family have been raising funds to pay for a search team to begin looking for the missing men. 

The Ogre is also known as Baintha Brakk, and is considered amongst the most difficult mountains in the world. Standing 7285 meters (23,901 ft) in height, it is both a technical and physically demanding climb. The approach is incredibly steep and dangerous which is why 24 years past between the first ascent in 1977 and the second in 2001. Dempster himself paired with Hayden Kennedy to climb Ogre for the third time in 2012. 

Hopefully the two men will be found safe higher up on the mountain, but unfortunately that is seldom the case. Lets continue to hold out hope however, as there is still a chance they are alive and in need of some assistance in getting down. 

That's all for now. More updates to come soon. 

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: Czech Climbers Launch Summit Bid on Gasherbrum I

Earlier in the week we said that the climbing season in the Karakoram was grinding to halt, with most teams now long gone. But, one team remained in the mountain holding out home that they would still get a chance at the summit on Gasherbrum I, and along a new no less.

Czech climbers Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula are now in the midst of a summit push along a route that Holecek has already attempted on three previous occasions. According to ExWeb, the duo set out from BC on Tuesday with the hopes of being into position to complete their climb today. Poor weather has momentarily stalled their attempt however, although they are hoping for conditions to improve this weekend so they can finish the ascent.

When the duo launched this summit push they climbed up to 6000 meters (19,685 ft) on Tuesday, setting up their first camp after a long day in mixed weather conditions. On Wednesday of this week the weather had improved and they set out to climb higher, but as they went, conditions once again deteriorated. Snow began to fall on the mountain, and several avalanches occurred, cutting off their ability to safely descend. Instead, they went up and found shelter near a serac, pitching their tent at 6800 meters (22,309 ft). That is where they have stayed for the past two days, waiting for things to improve. The plan is to wait out the weather, then move up to 7400 meters (24,278 ft) for one last campsite before moving on to the summit.

The new route is one that Holecek has scouted in the past, going up Gasherbrum I's southwest face. As mentioned, the Czech climber has failed to complete his ascent along this new path on three separate occasions, but he now believes that his persistence will pay off and he and Mandula can top out. At this point that all depends on the weather, and the amount of supplies that they have left. Summiting this late in the season is a bit uncommon in the Karakoram, but not unheard of. They will need some luck to go their way however.

We'll be keeping an eye on their progress throughout the next few days. Hopefully they'll find success along this new route, but if not it will be more important that they ascend safely. I'll keep you posted!

Karakoram 2016: Body Found on K2, Help Required to Identify

Sad news from K2 where a team of researchers have discovered the remains of a fallen climber, but no one has been able to identify him or her just yet. A request for help has been sent out to the mountaineering community in the hopes of determining just who was found on the mountain.

According to this story at Montagna.tv, Michele Cucchi and Paolo Petrignani – working in conjunction with Pakistani guides – were in Base Camp on K2 a couple of weeks back. The team had traveled there to record the current state of the glaciers in that area, and the impact of environmental change on their health. The group climbed up to ABC and could see the damage done by a massive avalanche that hit Camp 3 back in July, sweeping away tents, fixed ropes, and a cache of bottled oxygen. The avalanche effectively brought an end to the K2 climbing season, sending all of the teams there home without a single summit.

Amongst the rubble Cucchi discovered a few oxygen bottles, the remains of several tents, and a human body under a thin layer of ice. The corpse was wearing a Millet boot that was reportedly a size 8 (pictured here). The boot is a recent model, which suggests the accident took place fairly recently as well, but the person who was found remains unidentified at this time. If you can potentially ID this person, you're urged to contact Montagna.tv as soon as possible.

As is tradition on K2, the remains of the climber were taken to the Gilkey Memorial where all of the victims of the "Savage Mountain" are laid to rest. This has been the case sine 1953 and it continues to this day.

Hopefully someone in the mountaineering community will see this story and help identify the unknown climber.

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: The Arduous Task of Climbing K2 Begins

The summer climbing season is Pakistan is now officially underway. Most of the teams have now arrived in their respective Base Camps, with some already starting their first acclimatization rotations. It'll be a good month or more before they even consider taking a crack at the summit, but the foundation for those ascents is now being put into place.

Most of the focus this summer will fall squarely on K2, where commercial operations have ramped up significantly in the past couple of years. More than 100 climbers have registered for permits on the second tallest mountain in the world in 2016, where the weather usually dictates who actually has a chance of topping out. Traditionally speaking, summit bids won't begin until the last week of July or the first week of August, but for now the climbers are taking advantage of good weather and are preparing for the challenging ascent ahead.

The Madison Mountaineering team climbed up to Advanced Base Camp yesterday, and plan to proceed to Camp 1 at 6096 meters (20,000 ft) today. Once there, they'll spend at least one night before dropping back to BC for a rest. This starts the long process of getting their bodies accustomed to the higher altitudes that will eventually culminate with a summit push. That is still a long way off at this point, but this is the first of many steps in the right direction.

Meanwhile, the International team led by Vanessa O'Brien has already moved up to Camp 2, as her squad continues to make solid progress. O'Brien is looking to become the first American woman to summit K2, and so far everything is going according to plan.


ExWeb reports that the Sherpa teams on K2 have begun installing the ropes above C2 as more teams move up the mountain. There is still a long way to go before they get anywhere close to the summit, but it seems that the team fixing the lines is taking advantage of the good weather while they can. The ExWeb article also rightfully points out that there isn't a lot of room on K2 for tents, so it will be interesting to see how the season unfolds as the climbers work through the logistics.

At the moment, there are six teams in K2 Base Camp, with at least one more yet to arrive. That will make for a crowded mountain, but hopefully one that will remain safe. Climbing K2 is much more difficult than Everest, which compounds the challenges dramatically. This is not a place where traffic jams and long waits are advisable, as this is a mountain that is far less forgiving than it's taller counterpart.

We'll be watching the season unfold with interest. The commercialization of K2 is now in full-swing, and this year will show begin to give us an idea of how wise it is to open the peak up to so many climbers. It should be fascinating to see unfold. Lets just hope everyone stays safe.

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: American Woman Going for Speed Record on K2?

Teams of climbers are now arriving in Islamabad as the climbing season on K2, Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat, and other big mountains in Pakistan get underway. It'll be a couple of weeks before things really ramp up, but we are now starting to get a sense of what to expect in the season ahead, including a potential speed record attempt on K2 itself.

It has now been revealed that British-American climber Vanessa O'Brien is on her way to K2, where she hopes to become the first woman from the U.S. to summit the peak, as well as the fastest ever too. She already holds the speed record for a woman climbing the Seven Summits, having accomplished that feat in 295 days.

O'Brien is an experienced mountaineer, but she has not faced a challenge like K2 before. This will certainly be a test of her skill and determination, although a healthy dose of luck will be involved too. The weather on K2 is very unpredictable, making it hard to predict when a summit push can begin. We're a long way from that point right now however, although she says she hopes to make her summit push in about six weeks time. Late July and early August are the traditional timeframe for reach the top of this very difficult mountain.

(Update: It isn't clear from the article linked above doesn't make it clear what, if any, speed record Vanessa may be going for. It is possible that the headline is misleading and based on her speed record on the Seven Summits.)

Vanessa says she is climbing to raise awareness of the incredibly natural environment that is found Gilgit-Baltistan region, as well as to improve relations between the West and Pakistan. She's also championing the rights of women in that country and across the globe.

Meanwhile, other teams are assembling and preparing to depart for the mountains as well. It typically takes several days to journey from Islamabad to Skardu if they go overland, and more than a week to trek to Base Camp, depending on their ultimate goal. That means we won't see anyone officially starting their climbs until next week, but there should be more interesting stories to tell as the teams press forward. More to come soon.

Video: To The Summit of K2

Over the next couple of months we'll be following the proceedings on K2 very closely. Want to know what it looks like when you approach the summit of that mountain? This video will give you an idea. As you'll see, it is very steep and technical, which is why this peak has earned the moniker of "the mountaineer's mountain." Not a place for the inexperienced, this is a far different climb than Everest.