Camp 2 (6100m), West Ridge of Broad Peak ©Mike Farris
Dispatch #4: Before the
latest news, a follow-up to the porter with HAPE that I reported on earlier.
He's alive, but only because our note reached Urdokas quickly. The NatGeo docs
dashed up the hill and treated him.
think he would have lived all the way to Urdokas without
Karakoram weather is up to its usual tricks. July 2 we arrived in Base Camp
and sat through bad weather until July 9. The sun finally came out and the
avalanches were spectacular. On July 10 there was a mass migration up the
hill, pent-up testosterone finally going to good use. The initial approach
gully seemed somewhat easier than last year, but that may have been due to my
foresight in bringing a second ice tool. There was actually less snow and more
water ice than I expected.
climbing the initial gully I exited onto some avalanche debris and looked down
to see my left crampon dangling from my boot. It didn't just fall off, the
heel and toe sections had separated completely. I had re-installed a device
that allows rapid size adjustment for the crampons and apparently this wasn't
holding properly. I taped it together and climbed more slowly than I wanted.
Luckily, the other crampon waited until after the final water ice section to
fall apart. Rodrigo (MEX) helped me reassemble the thing and reshod me like a
mule while we were on some 40 degree snow.
I spent a
night at 'half camp' (5300m) and at Camp I (5700m), while Don stayed two
nights at CI. Don carried a load of rope to CII and sat for hours, waiting for
the avalanche risk to subside. He had a sporty downclimb on rotten ice, in the
dark. Eventually fixed ropes will run all the way to CII.
decided to go down and pick up another load. Also the weather was moving in,
so descent looked like a good option. Well, it's July 13 and it's rained and
snowed continuously at Base Camp for the last 24 hours. The good conditions on
the hill have been replaced by avalanches and rockfall. We're stuck for at
least a couple of days.
Impressions: Climbers (well, European climbers anyway) seem very nationalistic
about their weather forecasts. I don't care--give me a good one!
of climbers carrying hypertechnical ice tools is, well,
I've even seen tools that are made solely for
competition. Watching these guys bend over double with a big pack,
their short, curved tools in low-angle snow is good for a
Newsflash: there are no WI6/M6 pitches on Broad Peak, guys.
bring ultralight axes and then ask to borrow your heavier
axe to dig
out the rocks in their tent site. Hmmmm...
on another expedition noted, "I'd forgotten how selfish
on 8000m peaks." I've seen many instances of selfishness
other climbers) already on the three days we've been able to
Selfishness is a natural part of the process, but only (in my
during the summit push. You never know when you'll need help
up here, so
both Don and I are cooperating with other teams, building
relationships that will pay off in the future.
raining/snowing hard again. It's warm, damp, Pacific
weather. I left Don playing euchre in a neighboring mess
afternoon I want to scout the approach yet again to learn
through the maze of ice pinnacles. Two climbers reached 7500m
and another one had a nasty fall through a bridge over one
glacial rivers. Gotta quit writing--not enough sun for a
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