Camp 2 (6100m), West Ridge of Broad Peak ©Mike Farris
Dispatch #3: July 3 Diego's
Lucky Horseshoe; was the Porter as Lucky?
once-feared trek up the Baltoro has been stripped of much of its difficulty.
The presence of the Pakistan Army all the way up the glacier has resulted in
much trail construction and elimination of many of the formerly difficult
climbs over slabs. However, difficulty and danger are two different things.
of our rest day at Paiju, Deigo (ITA) was stretching
mess tent before breakfast. I walked over and he showed me a horseshoe that
he'd found. I explained that in the USA, you mount the shoe on your wall with
the open end up and it will fill with good luck. We decided to take it to Base
Camp and put it in the mess tent.
day we headed for Urdokas, the longest day of the trek to base camp. We
finally got onto the Baltoro Glacier and hiked up and down the moraines along
the true left bank. Grasses, sedums, and various legumes dotted the landscape.
We arrived in Liligo and ate lunch with the Trango group going in and out of
to Urdokas hugs the side of Liligo Peak and other unnamed peaks. We walking
along, digesting lunch when the roar of a rockslide filled our ears. We looked
up in horror to see a dust cloud erupt about 600 meters up the slabs above the
trail and about 500 meters in front of us. Microwave-sized blocks bounced and
blasted the slabs, finally strafing the trail. There were literally hundreds
walking the trail that day, and we were certain that somebody had to be in the
area pelted by the rocks.
I hiked on,
afraid of what we would see. I arrived and found a number of our group huddled
around somebody. It was Diego, with a small but nasty tear on the outside of
the knee where a large rock had grazed him. He and Max (ITA) were the only two
in the rockfall zone. They had scrambled for cover as the rocks flew past
them. It was still dangerous so we got Diego up and moving into a safer area.
He eventually hiked slowly to Urdokas, where Don prepared to examine and treat
guide, came in and said that there was a doctor in camp. Don went to check it
out and came back with a whole herd of doctors! Turns out a National
Geographic team was in the area, and they had a dozen or more doctors, medics,
etc. and they just happened to be at Urdokas. Quicker than you can say "3-0
silk" they put four stitches in his skin, and no permanent damage was done. I
think Diego drained all of the luck out of the horsehoe that day!
day we continued our walk to our first camp on the glacier, named Goro 2. At
one point Don appears, yelling for our L.O. We rush ahead and find a porter
with an apparent serious case of HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema). This
life-threatening illness can strike anyone in the mountains, and the porter
had the classic signs--crackling sounds in the chest and fast respiration. Don
immediately went into stablize, package, and transport mode as we would
do in the USA. But helicopters don't come for porters (unless you're willing
to fork over $9000 cash). The porter said that somebody else gave him
medication earlier in the day, but we didn't know what. One dose of the right
meds could save him, but two could kill him. The best we could do is send a
note to the docs in Urdokas (several hours down the glacier) and have the
porter carried by his comrades. Did he make it? We don't know.
editorial commentary [from Mike]. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred a
porter who say's he's sick just wants a pill. It's that one other time that a
porter will die because some Westerner just willy-nilly hands out pills. If
you don't know what you're doing, don't give them anything. Even aspirin can
be deadly! If you give them something, write down what you gave them (even if
it's just candy) and when. Pin it to their shirt. I'm also amazed at the
number of trekkers and climbers that don't know the first thing about altitude
illness and how to use the drugs they brought with them. It's just plain dumb.
There's no excuse for ignorance these days. End of editorial rant.
Broad Peak Base Camp. It snowed nearly 25 cm last night, but it's melting
fast. Today we're resting and doing essentials (like building a toilet). Time
to finish sorting the barrels and get organized. We might actually climb
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