Pierson: Murph goes to K2: The best K2 video on the planet:
Radek Jaros and Petr "Miska"
Masek, aka the HI-TEC V-LITE Nanga Parbat-K2 Expedition, aborted their summit
bid on K2 and retreated from the SSE Ridge (also known as the Basque
Route/Scott or Cesen Ridge) down to base camp after a two-day climb due to
highly risky conditions. Radek summed it up in an SMS full of desperation,
sent shortly afer they had reached their tents: "We are sitting in BC, staring
at K2 and we don't know... Today we had turned back at 7300m and came down.
Knee-high powder snow over hard-snow slabs... To force ourselves hard to the
summit and then ... just maybe ... to make it back down safe, in 2 days?"
Radek and Petr came to the
K2 BC on July 13, after they had successfully climbed Nanga Parbat (Radek
summitted on June 28). This years' is their 3rd expedition to K2, they had
attempts in 2001, when they reached just a bit over 8000m via
the SSE (Basque/Scott/Cesen) Ridge but had to abort the final summit push due
to bad weather, and 2003 (Abruzzi Ridge).
This year, they came to K2
well acclimatized and their plan was for a quick climb via the SSE
Ridge. However, the masses of snow -- reportedly largest since 1993 and vastly
unsettled -- made any thoughts on an alpine-style climb unthinkable, but the
guys still wanted to give a quick and light climb a try.
The weather on and around K2
at the time of their arrival to BC was still bad and so they had to wait for a
few days. There was not a single time, during their approach trek to the BC,
or during the few days in BC, when the mountain could be seen! When the first
spell of a better weather opened, they launched the climb which
was immediately meant to be a summit bid. They left BC before dawn on Monday,
with all their gear, tent and supplies for all the way to the summit.
The mountain had been hidden
in the clouds all the time till then and it was still snowing, here and there,
on Monday and the clouds were low and thick. As a result, their very
first glimpse of the state of the SSE Ridge this year was when they were
already climbing it. And having known the ridge, the guys could guess they
might get in trouble. Radek: "We had not seen the slope this year at all -
until we were already climbing it! Only when the skies cleared, we could see
what the ridge is like this year. A thick layer of fresh, unsettled snow
everywhere, on this very steep terrain. We knew the ridge since 2001 and
seeing how it looked now was already a warning signal."
However, that did not
discourage them too quickly. On Monday, they reached 6400m, the site of their
C2 back in 2001, and built a tent there. "It was a deadly hardship", said
Radek, "As we were carrying all our gear and supply for the entire climb, we
were climbing with well over 20 kilograms on our backs!". The ridge is steep,
60 degrees, or even more at some parts. The conditions were to get worse.
They reached 7100m on Tuesday
and built a tent. They also met 5 members of Leopold Sulovsky's expedition who
wanted to at least give a try to the Basque Pillar even though they knew they
would not have enough time for a summit push any more. (The expedition ends
this week, their porters were already on the way from Skardu to the BC at that
On Wednesday morning, before
the dawn, together with 4 or 5 members of Sulovsky's expedition, Radek and
Petr set out to climb on. "I was leading the way", says Radek, "constantly
breaking through knee-high powder snow over hard ice. We reached a place
between 7300 and 7450meters, where you need to make a traverse to rocks aside.
From 2001, Miska and I remember the route well, this is a place where there
are icy rocky slabs, now covered with knee-high layer of powder snow. I just
considered it too dangerous and suggested that we retreated down and gave
the snow some more days to fell down or settle. Some agreed, some did not. For
the guys from the Sulovsky's expedition it meant the climb is over. But in the
end, all of us retreated."
It is a day later today, and
Radek and Petr are in a bad humour. Not only the climb of Nanga and this
week's K2 attempt in extremely tough conditions took a toll on them
physically, but they are starting to see a mental toll, too. And as if it all
was not enough, their computer went dead. Their source of information,
entertainment, time killing! Most importantly, however, unlike the computer
they are alive and in a reasonably good shape! And, unlike their computer,
they do are not calling it quits yet.
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