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  G2 2005: TURKS CLIMB G-II the picture show

GII – Turkish Expedition – 2005

We were targeting more than one ‘first’s for Turkey when we had set off to Gasherbrum II – 8035 m in the beginning of this summer. First of all, this would be the first Turkish climb of this 13th highest mountain. Another target, certainly the most important for the Turkish mountaineering history, was that the two women members of the team, Eylem Elif Koc and Burcak Ozoglu, were to become first women from Turkey to breathe the air over 8000 m. Last but not least; while ‘high altitude’ climbs have a history that is now older than a century, it was not until 1995 that a Turkish climber could set foot over 8000 m. By 2005 there were only 3 Turkish climbers who had reached peaks over 8000 m. The important aspect of these climbs was that climbers were part of larger international expeditions that are organized by western tourism agencies. This was the first ever Turkish Expedition organized to Himalaya.

P1. While the plane was being loaded (Islamabad to Skardu) – 23 June 2005

P2. After a full day of work to repack everything into 25kg loads (Skardu) – 24 June 2005

Naturally the preparation phase of such an expedition was much more intense compared to a pack-n-go type of new fashion expedition. Preparations started 3 months before for accumulating the needed gear and money. By the time we reached Islamabad, members of the team had already overcome the many burdens of this intense groundwork period and been bonded together even stronger.

P3. Porters are waiting for the loads to be distributed (Askole) – 26 June 2005

P4. ‘You cannot take a picture!!’…policeman in Askole trying to cool down the uprising porters (Askole) – 26 June 2005

The trekking-in to Karakoram 8000’s is laborious. However, we had projected interviewing all the porters who helped us, for the documentary we planned. This relieved some of the possible stress. We all had picked up a bit of URDU and since Turkish and Urdu are both affected from Persian language, there were tons of common words. Add to that the incredible hospitality of Pakistani people towards Turkish people; every time we tried to approach them, we were most welcome. The extent of hospitality was not limited only with the local folks we had met. On the most formal level we were also greeted with full support. The ministry of tourism did not take the summit fee from our expedition. Probably, a gesture which had not been encountered towards other nations since the beginning of mountaineering in the region.

P5. On the way to Jhola Camp (Jhola) – 26 June 2005

P6. Even after a long day of walk some can dance (Jhola) – 26 June 2005

P7. Porters gathered for dancing at night – (Paiju) – 28 June 2005

P8. First sight of Nameless and Trango Towers – (Urdukas) – 29 June 2005

P9. Everything is OK! – (Shama) – 1 July 2005

Many expeditions (there were about 15 expeditions to Gasherbrum I and II this year) were at the base camp (5170 m) 1-2 weeks before us. However they hadn’t been able to reach the 2nd camp due to the bad weather. Once we had reached the base camp we spent two days to organize ourselves and make a plan. In the first two go’s, until the summit push, we did a lot of carrying. By the time we reached Camp 1 (5925 m), some part of the way up to Camp 2 (6540 m) had already been fixed with ropes but the work was not finished and the weather was detoriating. Most of this work was done mainly by a British party. They had done a fine job and we definitely wanted to help them. However, by then, we were not strong enough and well-equipped for rope work at that altitude. So just after sleeping at Camp 1 two nights we went down to the base camp. We had spent the next 2 days in the base camp and came back to Camp 1 with our ropes and even more food/fuel. Next day we caught up with the pioneering group and took the job of fixing lines with two other friends who were intending to ski down the mountain (Jorgen and Fredrick from Norway and Sweden, respectively). Later that day, other groups had also reached Camp 2 and set-up their camps, while we had stashed our two North Face – VE25 tents and stormed down to Camp 1 to prepare ourselves for the forthcoming day. A day that would be dedicated to carrying our backbreaking loads up to the Camp 2. Besides our usual load and the ropes, we had carried up the extra ropes that were stashed along the pathway, which we knew that they were left by our Argentinean friends, with whom we were neighbors at the base camp. Since we have not brought enough snow pickets and flags to mark the route, we had also taken our friends’ pickets and flags from Camp 1 to do our share in the painstaking route preparations. That day, after reaching Camp 2, we worked hard to dig a good tent platform for our two big tents, which would reward itself with a comfortable sleep at this new altitude. For all of us, may be except Serhan, who had attempted K2 in 1998, this was a sleeping-altitude record. Next morning the Camp 2 was deserted; it was only us who remained. We tried to move to Camp 3 (6936 m) two times however we had to bail due to avalanche danger. Slopes were full of fresh snow and were ready to come down. Moreover, during the whole time, there was a heavy snowfall and we had to dig our tents frequently. All this hard work that we had done on the deserted slopes was gradually becoming more difficult, since we were not nourishing ourselves enough at this altitude. After the third day, being convinced that we had done our share on the route preparations and we were acclimatized enough for the summit push, we slowly moved back to Camp 1 with a clear sky on top of us and the gleaming South face of Gasherbrum IV in the background. We decided to bypass the Camp 1 that day and collapsed in the base camp with starving bodies. We imminently fed ourselves with the food prepared by our talented cook “ustaad” Nisar Ali and his assistant Ahmad Jan. We feel indebted to them with their everlasting help and courage. They were not only “cooking” for us. Just after about a week since we started from Skardu, we found ourselves embracing each other in the friendliest manner. We would stay until late in the kitchen tent with them and try to talk on a lot of subjects despite the language barrier, most of which would be tied up to the magical and beautiful Hunza-land (a mountainous region in the North of Gilgit, where most of the Pakistani mountaineers, guides and coincidently our friends were born). We will definitely create the occasion to visit the Hunza valley in the future. We had even projected a “Triple-7000’er – Destaghil Sar 7885 m / Rakaposhi 7788 m / Diran 7266 m” expedition which would give us the opportunity to meet our friends again.

P10. Base camp is ready (Base camp) – 3 July 2005

P11. Getting ready for the second leave (Base camp) – 9 July 2005

P12. On the way to Camp 1 for the second time – 10 July 2005

P13. On the way to Camp 2 – 11 July 2005

P14. On the way to Camp 2 – 11 July 2005

P15. Preparing the Camp 2 – 12 July 2005

P16. Gear needed for preparing the route above Camp 2 – 12 July 2005

P17. We needed to do a lot of shoveling to prevent the tents from being buried – (Camp 2) – 14 July 2005

Another person that needs to be introduced is our Liaison Officer (L.O.) Captain Rashad. Through-out the entire expedition, we had the smoothest relationship of all times probably. He had appreciated the team-spirit we had and became just like one of us with the click of a moment. One thing that we can all remember very clearly is that, while we were returning to base camp for the second time, besides Nisar’s food we were yearning for one more thing; Captain Rashad’s jokes and his description of a nice and sweet fresh mango. Apparently his never-ending desire for Mango had been passed onto us. A ‘mango’ would be the only thing that he would not share with us. He would also collect all sorts of reports on weather (from other expeditions’ L.O.s, Pakistani radio and army resources) and make a positive-sounding summary even on the worst day. We will always remember him with his encouraging smile and phrase “how is morale? should be high up to the sky”.

In the evening of the third day of our four-day rest in the base camp we received some sad news from our Argentinean neighbors. The organizer of this expedition was a friend of our leader Serhan from his previous K2 expedition and he was diagnosed with a heart attack. Everybody in the base camp tried to help with whatever they can and he was evacuated by a helicopter the next day. In the meantime permitted time was due for some expeditions. Unfortunately the Britons (who did the majority of work between Camp 1 and 2) had to turn back without even being able to come back to Camp 2 again. Some persisting ones from the German group and 3 Koreans wanted to push for the last time. While they moved forward from Camp 1, we had set off from the base camp for the 3rd and last time. We carried a lot of fuel and food again, so that we would be able to try the summit several times from Camp 1 without having in mind the burden of the long and treacherous way between base camp and Camp 1. All the cracks between these camps were exposed by this time and the openings were enlarging so that a long jump would be needed every now and then.

P18. Before the evacuation of our friend from the neighboring Argentinean camp – (Base camp) – 18 July 2005

In this final go, we had spent only one night in Camp 1 and moved fast to Camp 2. After spending one night at Camp 2, we moved to Camp 3. Same day 2 Italians and an Austrian continued to the summit and they had managed to reach the summit. When they returned back to the Camp 3 late in the evening, they were looking spent but happy. We wished we were them, because we received the bad news that stormy weather was approaching.

That evening, we slept at 6 PM and then woke up at 10:30 PM after a four and a half hour sleep and we had set off at 1 AM on 22nd of June. The weather was fine. We reached to Camp 4 (7300-7400 m ) at 5 AM. We had setup our tent again and stayed in it until 8 AM making some more water. Then we moved on to the summit. While we were finishing the long traverse, the weather was not good. Lots of mist and we could see the route hardly. Then we moved a bit further and started to see the summit every now and then in between the swirling clouds. This encouraged us. We shared the trail breaking on the final part amongst ourselves. All trails from our friends had been vanished due to the strong wind of that day. It was 5:30 PM when we reached the summit (8035 m – measured 7940 m) and at 6 PM we started down. At 9 PM after a 23-hour day we reached back to Camp 4 and stacked in our tent like canned fish. We had left our sleeping bags in Camp 3 before we had started that day. So we were in our down suits, but still warm enough. We moved all the way down to Camp 2 the next day. When we saw the welcoming face of our friend Janne at Camp 2, we were in high spirits.

P19. Up to Camp 1 for the 3rd and last time. In the background GII, GIII and mighty GIV – 19 July 2005

P20. View of Camp 2 – 21 July 2005

P21. While resting on the way to Camp 3 – 21 July 2005

P22. Ready to depart from Camp 3 – 22 July 2005

P23. Still have about 3 hours after the traverse – 22 July 2005

P24. On the summit of GII – 22 July 2005

Then we reached Camp 1 after a day of rest at Camp 2 and the same day moved on to the base camp after picking up the final tents and the extra gas cartridges. We returned our 5 tents and about 40 full and 30 empty cartridges along with all pieces of garment. On the other hand we had left all the food to other expeditions in Camp 1. On average we had about 30-35 kg on each. Everybody in the team think that it was the hardest walk of the whole expedition. We were greeted with great enthusiasm in the base camp by our L.O., other expeditions’ L.O.s and many other Pakistani friends.

Out of 13 GII summiteers of this year, 6 were from our expedition. We heard that many teams had to turn back after us due to continuing bad weather. So we do not exactly know if there had been more summits after us.

In the international scale our climb may not mean too much, but for the Turkish mountaineering history it constitutes a great moment. We had planned the GII climb about 5 years ago. We wanted to start with an easy 8000 m peak for our project, but then could not finance the journey and had to go to Kazakhstan for Khan Tengri in 2001. After that we went to Khan Tengri one more time in 2003 for a different route. So climbing GII as our first 8000’er was a long-lived desire and project for us. Best of all, it had ended perfectly with many new projects in mind. 

Serhan Pocan – Expedition Leader

· Male

· 11/04/1970, Konya/TURKEY

· Middle East Technical University (METU), Mathematics (B.S.)

· Software Specialist, Ustayazilim

Eylem Elif Koc

· Female

· 09/11/1973, Tokat/TURKEY

· METU, Environmental Engineering (B.S.), M.B.A.

· Iowa State University, Information Systems (M.S.)

· Information Systems Management, Ustayazilim

Burcak Ozoglu Pocan

· Female

· 04/01/1970, Ankara/TURKEY

· METU, Business Administration (B.S.)

· Ankara University, Labor Economics and Industrial Relations (M.S., Ph.D.)

· Assistant Professor, Ankara University, Labor Economics and Industrial Relations

Bora Mavis

· Male

· 17/09/1975, Isparta/TURKEY

· METU, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering (B.S., M.S.)

· Iowa State University, Materials Science and Engineering (Ph.D.)

· Assistant Professor, Hacettepe University, Industrial Engineering

Soner Buyukatalay

· Male

· 05/05/1979, Erzurum/TURKEY

· METU, Electrical and Electronic Engineering (B.S., M.S. – Ph.D. ongoing)

· Research Staff, TÜBİTAK, Information Technologies and Electronics Research Center

Serkan Girgin

· Male

· 19/10/1979, Ankara/TURKEY

· METU, Environmental Engineering (B.S., M.S., Ph.D. - ongoing)

· METU, Geodesy and Geographical Information Technologies (M.S.)

· Ph.D. student, METU Environmental Engineering

Earlier report: TURKS CLIMB G-II: The first Turkish team comprising 6 members successfully reached the summit of Gasherbrum-II on July 22nd making history for their country. G-II is 8035 meters high and 14th highest peak of the world. The six climbers are:

1. Mr. Serhan Pocan                -           Leader                        

2. Ms.Burcak Ozoglu Pocan     -           Member

3. Mr. Soner Buyukatalay         -                 “

4. Mr. Serkan Girgin                 -                 “

5. Mr. Bora Mavis                    -                 “

6. Ms. ELifeylem Koc                -                 “

The President of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, Mr. Nazir Sabir has greeted the expedition and expressed the hope that mountaineering will add another dimension to our brotherly relations with Turkey.

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