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  Krzysztof Wielicki reports: The Playground Friends HiMountain Gasherbrum II Expedition high drama

Update: Krzysztof Wielicki’s Report

Gasherbrum’s BC July 26th 2006 Krzysztof  Wielicki’s Report 

After summitting almost everybody has already returned to the base camp. Janusz Majer together with his team are spending the night in C1 and tomorrow they will take all the equipment and rubbish down to the base camp with the help of some carriers who have been hired especially for the occasion.  

 This is what the summit bid was like:  we left the base to head up to C1 and the next day we got to C3 at approx. 7000m.  On July 25th around midnight we (Fronia, Jucha, Podsiadło and me) set off from the camp towards the summit planning to skip C4 while walking. There were Janusz Majer, Agnieszka Adamowska and Zbigniew Zimniewicz, waiting for us in C4 to join in and accompany us in our push for the summit. We reached C4 situated at 7400m at about 3 o’clock in the morning.

It was a little windy and freezing cold. Janusz i Agnieszka turned out to have already attempted to go up, but they gave in and returned to their tent. Their acclimatization was the weakest of all of us, only from 6000m, from C1 and I myself discouraged them from risking the summit push. Zbigniew Zimniewicz, however, who, despite his acclimatization being far from perfect itself, was waiting for us with all the gear and ready to climb, joined the team.

There were also four Spanish climbers from a military expedition who attacked the summit on that day. They left C3 one hour before us. And so there were nine of us altogether. Rafał Fronia summitted first within 7,5 hours!!!! Robert and I got there an hour later, followed shortly by Paweł Podsiadło and a whole hour after him Zbyszek Zimniewicz, with his worse acclimatization. Gorgeous views, pictures and descent. By then Janusz and Agnieszka had already climbed down to C3.
For safety reasons I  went last, following weaker Zbyszek. One of the Spaniards was slightly weaker too, possibly exhausted but also (I think!) lacking technically and on the last traverse of the summit wall, during the descent, I saw him fall off and go down for about 100 m. Luckily, he stopped in a basin because further there was only...China.

My companions had already gone down, there was only one of the Spanish climbers waiting for his friend below - on the border of visibility. I stayed, too. Having examined the Spaniard I decided his condition was serious. We wanted him to stand up and move but he wasn‘t too keen. His neck and head hurt. Then Mike Farris (USA) came up with another climber at the moment. He was on his summit bid, but stopped and we tried to do together our best to help to the Spaniard.
This was at approx. 7600m.

I got in touch with my team, who had already reached C4. There were also two Spanish climbers already there from the Spanish summit team. I suggested that they take our polish tent, sleeping bag, gas, stoves, food and climb up to 7600m so as to let the injured wait until the morning for possible transport (Spaniards did not have any equipment at C4). I also asked our doctor (summiter) - Paweł Podsiadło – to climb up again to the injured. Paweł started the climb but, unfortunately, because of tirednes and exhaustion he didn’t manage to reach the injured.

The Spanish doctor was in C1 and it was him who took over the supervision of the emergency rescue and passed the essential medicines up the mountain immediately. When I and Mike were sure that the rescue team consist of HAPs and Spanish climbers is on the way up and that we can not do anything more – we left the injured under control of his Spanish partner and gone: me down, Mike up. At C4 I met one Spaniard climbing up with our equipment to the injured.

Today the injured Spaniard has been reported  to be on his way below C4 and everything should end well. HAPs assisted him, he walked himself.

Mountains are unpredictable but this accident made me realize once more that fashionable summit pushes without acclimatization can have very negative results.  

Krzysztof Wielicki

Update 7/27/2006: Two Polish climbers -  Pawel Mitura i Boguslaw Chamielec - summitted Gasherbrum II 26th of July afternoon. This is two person team who shares permit and BC costs with our The Playground Friends HiMountain Gasherbrum Expedition.

Gasherbrum II summitted 2006-07-23

The Playground Friends HiMountain Gasherbrum II 2006 Expedition

Ryszard Pawlowski i Marek Chmielarski reached the top of Gasherbrum II today - July 23 - at 10 am local time.

Krzysztof Wielicki plus 3 climbers is  on summit push - today at C1 and plan to climb to C3 tomorrow.

Janusz Majer plus 2 climbers is at C3 and plan to go C1 tomorrow.

Earlier: The Playground Friends HiMountain Gasherbrum II 2006 Expedition - CAMP 3 7/19/2006: Today - 19th July - team consist of Krzysztof Wielicki, Robert Jucha, Rafal Fronia, Pawel Podsiadlo set up Camp 3 on 6970m. They will sleep here tonight and plan come back to BC tomorrow. "Whole team is in good condition. It is windy and cloudy, we see some tents of others expeditions damaged" - reported Wielicki today afternoon local time.

Ryszard Pawłowski and Marek Chmielarski are on C2 on 6530m. The others expedition members resting in C1 and some of them at BC.

We are in C1 7/18/2006: Almost all of us - we are in C1. Ryszard and Marek, after their last adventures, resting in BC still. Ewa and Barbara are in ABC. The weather is fine - sunshine - even to hot. There are 20 tents in C1 - not so many as last time :-) - but we are not sure if is due to storm "work" or due to other reasons. Tomorrow we will continue to climb as high as possible to C2 or even C3 on 6700m.


We are in C1 7/17/2006: Almost all of us - we are in C1. Ryszard and Marek, after their last adventures, resting in BC still. Ewa and Barbara are in ABC. The weather is fine - sunshine - even to hot. There are 20 tents in C1 - not so many as last time :-) - but we are not sure if is due to storm "work" or due to other reasons. Tomorrow we will continue to climb as high as possible to C2 or even C3 on 6700m.


Update 1: On June 27th the Krzyszof Wielicki, Ryszard Pawłowski, Janusz Majer - the playground 3 friends expedition left Poland for Gasherbrum II.

They arived to Islamabad without problems. They plan to colect cargo and visit Ministry of Tourism tomorrow then the expedition should start to Skardu the day after tomorrow. They should be at BC July 10th.

Update 2: The Playground Friends HiMountain Gasherbrum II Expedition - old troupers caught with their trousers down? 7/05/2006

After landing in Islamabad, nobody cared much at first that the expedition cargo was not there yet (it was due to arrive the next day). Things were going according to plan. The expedition briefing and departure to Skardu by bus were planned. The next day, the atmosphere became tense when it appeared  the cargo had not arrived. Only the briefing went according to plan, the rest was pure improvisation.

However, the briefing itself was a kind of a novelty. It was not held at the Ministry of Tourism, as it had been so far, but at the premises of the Pakistan Alpine Club which had been trying for a few years to “take over control” of the climbing traffic in Karakorum. It is apparent now that the “takeover” has succeeded and that some quality changes may be expected in accessibility, logistics and infrastructure in Karakorum in the coming years. This is rather good news for the Himalayan mountaineers – it seems that the Pakistan Alpine Club is closer to the problem and understands better the modern nature of climbing expeditions; we may hope that the funds raised from charges for climbing permits will be better used and more will be spent on development and protection of the region, in addition to “rescue” needs.

After the briefing, however, the expedition leaders, puzzled by the absence of their luggage, decided not to delay any further and the expedition left Islamabad in the hope that the cargo would catch up with them. Climbing up, they were inundated with telephone calls from both Kolex, a freight forwarding company in Warsaw and British Airways. In Skardu, when it became clear the cargo would arrive in Pakistan as late as the 2nd July, they decided to split up. Ryszard Pawłowski stayed in Skardu. The rest went by jeep to Askole  from where they set off on foot on 3rd July, heading for the Baltoro glacier and the base camp. "Problems are our speciality; we haven’t got sleeping bags for camping or trekking boots for walking but we’re improvising and somehow we manage”, reported Janusz Majer. “Tomorrow, in Paj, we may organise a rest day, we’ll install the began and send you more details”, he added.

Update 3:

The Playground Friends Expedition to Gasherbrum II - We’re counting ourselves - We are 12

Now that we are having a break from Paju, we can slow down and count ourselves. Our group is quite big, we met at the airport and not everybody really knew what the make up of our party was. The speed at which we travelled and the fact that we lost one member of the group in London did not make things any clearer.

1. Zbigniew Zimniewicz

2. Rafał Frona

3. Michał Kobylecki

4. Robert Jucha

5. Agnieszka Adamowska

6. Paweł Podsiadło

7. Ewa Dumańska

8. Barbara Skarżyńska

9. Marek Chmielarski

10. Krzysztof Wielicki

11. Ryszard Pawłowski

12. Janusz Majer

We also share the permit and base camp costs with two other teams that will carry out individual, independent mountain activities. One team is composed of two climbers from the Czech Republic and the other one is a pair of climbers from Poland, Paweł Mitura and Bogusław Chamielec. Generally speaking, and from the formal point of view (according to what is written in the Pakistani documents), there are 16 expedition participants.       

Update 7/14/2006: Ryszard and Marek managed come down to BC

The weather is really very bad. Ryszard Pawlowski and Marek Chmielarski, after two nights in C1, managed to come back to BC today, on July 14, however it was difficult and dangerous. The crevasses are unnormal large, there is a lot of snow and visibility is zero. So, there were a lot of adventure to go down. Fortunately, the team was supported by two Dutch climbers (Frits Vrijland and Court Haegens), who gave up their summit bid and turned back from high camps. They called two HAP, who came to ABC and helped with the further truck to BC. Ryszard and Marek spent 5 hours to get from C1 to ABC. At C1 there is a big storm at the moment. 3 tents flew out high to somewere (not our exp.) and next 3 ones had been caught by Ryszard and fixed in very last moment before their leaving . Now, whole team is back in the BC and having a party together with Anka, Darek and Tamara from Hidden Peak Exp. If the weather is good starting Sunday, then it will be possible to climb again, but not earlier than Tuesday 19th July.

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