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  American Billy Pierson, K2 Summiter Q&A


Questions from the readers of EverestNews.com...

Question: How difficult would you rate the Abruzzi route, particularly houses chimney and the bottleneck ?

Billy Pierson: I really don't know how to rate the difficulty. House's chimney is low class five rock, but at 6600 meters and with a pack, it is pretty strenuous (but fun). Most of the climbing is 45-50 degree snow, with a number of short, steep rock steps that go at class 3-low5, especially in the pyramid. Some sections are trickier than others, as they can be iced up. The bottleneck was 55-60 degrees, I'd say, but at its extreme height, seemed pretty steep.

Question: Do you feel there are safer routes on k2 than the Abruzzi? Congratulations on an excellent film...

Billy Pierson: Thanks for the comment on the film. I haven't been on any other routes, so I can't say for sure. It looks to me like the SSE Ridge is easier, but can be prone to avalanches between 6500 and 7800 meters because there are long open slopes there that build up during storms and see a lot of wind.

Question: Why do you think so many climbers leave K2 in July and early August?

Billy Pierson: I think people leave early for the same reasons as anywhere else: they either over-estimate their luck with the weather, or just can't afford to be away that long. I figure, if you're going to spend the money and the time, you might as well stay' til the permit is up (or 'til you summit). I've also heard from some of the local people that the weather can come good sometimes in the Karakorum in late August, but I'm not sure.

Question: What do you think of the increased use of Sherpas on K2?

Billy Pierson: I'm totally against the use of Sherpas on K2, and not keen on using porters at all. I think that one should accumulate, through experience, the skills necessary to climb a mountain like K2, or any big mountain, and do it through one's own merits and efforts. I think one should climb for the experience of climbing, not just the trophy of a possible summit. Aside from the real satisfaction I personally get from meeting a challenge like that without relying on others to do all the work (which is what the Sherpas are there for). I enjoy the climbing and working on the route to the point that no trip can be a failure, whether the top is reached or not. I could go on about this for a long time, but I would probably piss a lot of people off.

Question: Why do you think there are so many teams that seem to bitch while on K2?

Billy Pierson: I think a lot of teams bitch about everything, including each other, because it is a hard mountain to climb. Its intimidating, when you look at it. People get killed there. This causes a bit of stress between people on the team. There isn't a lot of room for many teams on a route there, so there is competition for space at the camps. 20 people climbing on the Abruzzi can be a lot, and get in each other's way. Everyone has a lot riding on the trip, money and time-wise, and getting to the top can be too important for many people. On any climb, team dynamics play a key role in success, and that is amplified on a peak like K2.

Question: Sounds like you have a great team, can you tell us more about them?

Billy Pierson: We had a really good bunch of guys, from 6 countries. Every one had 8000 meter experience, and I knew Gary, Hamish and Tony from a Makalu trip in '99. I had met Ivan and Fabrizio in Kathmandu that year, and we became friends, and Fabrizio and I got to know Andy Evans and his fiance Janice while climbing in Canada in the winter of '99-'00. Chris and Gary knew each other from Kangchenjunga. Fabrizio and Nasuh knew each other from previous trips also. These sort of previous relationships helped our team to work our way through the few bumps we encountered as we got to know each other better. There wasn't anybody on the team who considered himself a star, just a group of solid, strong, experienced climbers.

Question: What do you think of the big commercial companies role in climbing?

Billy Pierson: I'm kind of ambivalent about the role of large commercial companies in mountaineering. On the one hand, it is a great way for people to get a start in Himalayan climbing who otherwise might not know how to go about it, or have friends with whom to go. I've met almost all of my regular partners through commercial trips, and think it is a good way for nonprofessionals, with little free time for organizing trips, to be able to experience a big expedition. It also allows climbers a way to make a living doing what they love, taking other people to the mountains. On the other hand, there is a lot of competition, and the client base is not necessarily all that large.

To stay in business, these folks have to attract people who can afford to pay them, and often times, these people are not very strong, or don't take the time to build up an adequate base of experience before going to a big mountain. Since the company requires success to improve its chances of attracting more business, this puts pressure on the operators to get their clients to the top. I don't think I need to say where this can lead. I'm not sure what can be done differently here. Its not realistic for these operators to insist that clients build up a proper level of experience with them, as it would cost them their business. And its hard to turn down someone who is willing to spend big bucks to have you take them to someplace like Everest when you have bills to pay. I guess I just wish that here were more people out there who were willing and able to go climb interesting, technical 7000 meter peaks rather than just go to Everest and Denali like everybody else. They would probably enjoy the experience much more, and I know all my buddies who are guides would love it.

Question: What was your favorite climb to date?

Billy Pierson: It is hard to say what has been my favorite climb to date. They all have their great aspects, though some have had really bad moments, too. I tend to think more of great days in the mountains, and at or near the top of that list is the summit day on Makalu in '99. I was really well acclimatized, so I went from the Makalu La (Camp 3, 7400 m) in an 18-hour round trip that started at 1 am. I hadn't expected to get good weather, so I had to borrow gear from Hamish Robertson, who was headed down in the morning. The weather turned perfect, there were a bizillion stars, the sunrise, and sunset, for that matter, were gorgeous. I was all by myself, since everybody else went down with Hamish. It was frightening and liberating at the same time. That was probably the best day I can remember.

Question: What do you think about climbers using bottled oxygen on k2?

Billy Pierson: I'm against the use of oxygen on K2. There were some folks on it on our summit day, and I know that at least one of them could have climbed it without the O's. I think that, by now, there is enough scientific background on the effects of altitude on humans, and enough anecdotal evidence around, that climbers should be able to properly acclimatize themselves to reach the top without resorting to artificial means of support. How can you say you know what its like to be at 8600 meters when you go on oxygen at 8000 meters? All the gear is already so much better and lighter than it was 20 or more years ago, tents, clothes, etc.

And it was climbed without O's then.

Billy

In a departure from the typical expedition documentary, this video chronicles the attempt of the International K2000 Expedition to climb K2's Abbruzzi Ridge. Narrated by a six-inch Gorilla named Murph, who attempts to be the first of his species to ascend the mountain, this often humorous look at an otherwise serious undertaking offers stunning views of the route and surroundings, as well as introducing the viewer to the colorful Pakistanis who essential to the success of the trip.

Voted " Best Mountaineering Film" at the Vancouver Int'l Mountain Film Festival 2002. This film is produced By American Billy Pierson who reached the Summit of K2 on 7/30/00 as part of Gary Pfisterer's expedition. The film is about 56 minutes...

Readers of EverestNews.com: This is by FAR the best K2 movie we have ever seen. As you know most were not even made near K2 and well are real bad (most people use not PG rated words to describe K2 films). This movie shows you K2 up close by the climber who made the Summit and has the film to prove it. Several climbers purchased copies before going to K2 this year...

Now available again you can order here via credit card...

 
Millet One Sport Everest Boot  has made some minor changes by adding more Kevlar. USES Expeditions / High altitude / Mountaineering in extremely cold conditions / Isothermal to -75°F Gore-Tex® Top dry / Evazote Reinforcements with aramid threads. Avg. Weight: 5 lbs 13 oz Sizes: 5 - 14 DESCRIPTION Boot with semi-rigid shell and built-in Gore-Tex® gaiter reinforced by aramid threads, and removable inner slipper Automatic crampon attachment Non-compressive fastening Double zip, so easier to put on Microcellular midsole to increase insulation Removable inner slipper in aluminized alveolate Fiberglass and carbon footbed Cordura + Evazote upper Elasticated collar.

Expedition footwear for mountaineering in conditions of extreme cold.  NOTE US SIZES LISTED. See more here.







 

 

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