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  Mike and Don: Broad Peak 2005


©Mike Farris

 

 

June 25, Skardu. Frankly, the trip up the Baltoro has been described to death so instead, I'll post some impressions of our trip until something really gripping happens.

 

For the first time in nearly a week the air is cool, at least in the morning. Four days in the 45 degree (115 degrees F) heat in Pindi kept us either poolside or in the borrowed luxury of the Pearl Continental Hotel. The theme continued with the two-day bus journey to Skardu in an occasionally air-conditioned bus. For several

hours we cooled the bus by opening the windows; unfortunately the air temperature was 35 C (95 F). You can duplicate this by turning your hair dryer on 'low' and pointing it at your face for an hour or so. Don was soaking up the sun, but I'm not fond of hot weather.

 

The trip so far has reinforced several fundamental themes of travel in Pakistan. These can be generalized to other Asian countries (and maybe to other developing regions, such as, say, Kentucky or Alaska). First, Inshallah ('if God wills it') is not a spiritual law but a physical one. So many things that determine your destiny are out of your control; it's healthier just to sit back and let things happen. Second, a miss is as good as a mile is another fundamental law of physics. Pakistani drivers perform amazing feats of applied multivariable calculus every few seconds, determining the trajectories of multiple incoming vehicles and pedestrians so as to allow them to miss each other by a hand's breadth. I've twice felt the brush of a car mirror as I walked along the road. Third, even the smallest decision requires a committee meeting that would make any bureaucrat proud, though there's a lot more shouting than normal. Finally, the people are far more friendly that I'd see in a similar situation in the USA (although our liason officer found Americans very friendly and open).

 

What about the climb? We are on a permit with climbers from Italy, the Czech Republic, and maybe later some Poles and other Americans. There's lots of snow in the mountains, lots of sun melting it, lots of water trying to wash out the road to Askole, and not enough porters. Apparently, increasing education has made the life of a porter less appealing, ergo there are fewer men willing to carry loads. Imagine that! In a few years, helicopters will likely replace humans as load carriers and an old tradition will be lost.

 

Today we pack loads, finish shopping, and relax (I hope) before the 4 AM departure for Askole. Several kidney-pounding hours on the jeep will finally, Inshallah, get us to the start of the trek.

 

Postscript, June 26. The jeep ride from Skardu to Askole was relatively easy. The road only had one bad spot and dry conditions meant a relatively safe journey. We're sorting loads, relaxing, and rejoicing in the fact that we don't have to ride a plane, bus, taxi, or jeep for the next five weeks. Aside from some minor stomach problems for Don, we're in good health, we're at the trailhead, and our liason officer seems to be a good guy. Mike

 

Background: Mike Farris has been climbing rock and ice since 1975 and has climbed in Alaska, Canada, Argentina, Nepal, as well as all across the USA. He reached 8000m on the North Face of Kangchenjunga in 2002 and 7900m on Broad Peak in 2004. He is the author of Rock Climbing: Minnesota and Wisconsin and is Associate Professor of Biology at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

Don Bowie has climbed big wall routes on Baffin Island, alpine ice routes in the Rockies and Sierras, and alpine rock routes in many places around the world--many of them solo. Don lives in Bishop, California and is part of the Inyo County Search and Rescue team.

 

Updates

 

 

Millet One Sport Everest Boot Expedition and mountaineering boot for high altitude and extremely cold conditions. The Everest has conquered all 14 mountains over 8,000m and also the Seven Summits- and has now had a makeover to ensure continued peak preformance. With a newer sung, Alpine Fit, and even lighter Expedition footwear for mountaineering in conditions of extreme cold.  NOTE US SIZES LISTED. See more here.

 

A cold weather, high altitude double boot for extreme conditions The Olympus Mons is the perfect choice for 8000-meter peaks. This super lightweight double boot has a PE thermal insulating inner boot that is coupled with a thermo-reflective outer boot with an integrated gaiter. We used a super insulating lightweight PE outsole to keep the weight down and the TPU midsole is excellent for crampon compatibility and stability on steep terrain. WEIGHT: 39.86 oz • 1130 g LAST: Olympus Mons CONSTRUCTION: Inner: Slip lasted Outer: Board Lasted OUTER BOOT: Cordura® upper lined with dual-density PE micro-cellular thermal insulating closed cell foam and thermo-reflective aluminium facing/ Insulated removable footbed/ Vibram® rubber rand See more here.

 






 

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