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  Broad Peak 2008: First sight of Broad Peak and rest day at Base


Copyright© Billy Pierson

"After almost two weeks from our departure, it is a special day for every member of an expedition: today is the first rest day at Base Camp. After so many planes, paperwork, road and trekking, today we have sighted Broad Peak for the first time, and thanks to the clear day we had, we could also enjoy spectacular views of K2.

We have all slept more or less good and we are perfectly fine. Except for the logical inconveniences because of the altitude, the cold in some tent where the zipper is not working ok or some stone that insists on sticking in our backs, everything goes on wheels.

The thing of the day of rest is just a way of naming it because there is still a lot to do. Base Camp was installed yesterday very poorly, today we had to organize it correctly, to install the shower tents and
the latrine, to organize the mess tent, to tune up the generator and organize our belongings. It may look like a loot of comfort, but we have to think that this will be our home for the next months. Other teammates have the job of going to other neighboring base camps to
gather information about the rout, the condition of the camps, etc.

On the other hand we had used the day to clean up, shave, do the laundry… Some climbers insist that we have to mingle with the people of the place, but lately we were mistaken by Baltis (that is the name of the people of the region); so after the days of trekking the shower has been mandatory.

Tomorrow, Alberto Zerain, Aitor Las Hayas, Lina Quesada, Santi Martin and Rafa Merchan will go to Camp 1 with the intention of depositing
some material and go back to sleep at Base Camp. Juan Carlos Gonzalez, Diego Hernandez and I will go to Base Camp in K2 to acclimatize a little more with the idea of going on the 4th to sleep on Camp 1. These are our intentions, we will share what happens tomorrow in the new chronicle by Alberto Zerain.

Alfredo Garcia

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Earlier: Finally at Base Camp: "Today we woke up at 5:00 in the morning, snowing, the first part has been under such snowfall, and when it stopped, we had clouds some 100, 200 m. above us, that means that of the wonderful views we should have seen, nothing.

The reason of waking up so early is because today, when we got to B.C. we said goodbye to our porters.  They avoid sleeping this high because of the basic equipment they carry, so they have to arrive soon to be able to return to Goro II, from where we left today.

Since we said goodbye to them today, I think we should pay a little
homage to these suffered people who once they have made it to the
summit, nobody remembers them.

They carry 25 kilos on their backs plus they scarce belongings, those who have better footwear wear sandals which are not bad to go to the beach, but to cross glaciers are not enough, they drink water from the rivers no matter if it is pure mud and when we get to the location of the camp, they make some improvised bivouacs with plastic sheets, extending some potato sacks on the floor, to spend the night.  They do it in the middle of the desert or in the middle of the glacier.

93 porters were hired for this expedition and the system of work they have is according to the diminishing weight, for what we are eating away, porters are now too many and those who come last go down, in total 83 arrived.

Today when they said goodbye they charged 3 euros a day and for those who came to the final part, a tip of a day of work more.  The farewell has been noisy on their part, when the chief of porters told them about the tip we had given them, among so much jubilee we asked them their age, they go from 60 the eldest to 15 the youngest.

Alright then, this little people, tough, attentive to service, live
all year with what they sweat during these months of expedition.

Alfredo will be in charge of tomorrow's chronicle".

Rafa Merchan

The members of the expedition are Diego Hernández (Hervas), Santiago Martín Corrales (Badajoz), Alfredo García (La Rioja), Rafael Merchán (Málaga), Aitor Las Hayas (Vitoria), Alberto Zerain (Vitoria), Juan Carlos González (Castro Urdiales) and Lina Quesada (Sevilla).

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
 

Earlier: Hello friends: We are already in Payu, we have arrived after an insufferable day of heat… After a quick shower in the facilities that have been installed in the middle of the camping zone (which don't help the landscape at all), we get caught by a strong rain, we cover all the barrels and packages quickly and we look for refuge in the mess tent, and we patiently wait… The trekkers ask us, what to do in these cases? Well, nothing… read, play cards, laugh and tell jokes, talk about the mountain…

It is strange for anyone who is not used to this, to see how nervous
and active we are and also how patient when there is nothing else to do.  Why do we do it? Well I suppose it is part of the final project, we know that you won't get nothing if you are not patient, we know that to climb high mountains you have to adapt to the environment, or the environment will beat you.

Between jokes we talk that when you have a "morning thing" (a climb in the morning to a mount close to home) you have time to have some cake and coffee before leaving, get dressed in the car before getting to walk and after a climb and descent of this kind, be home by the time of the paella… but here the environment is more demanding, you never know at what time your porter will show with your package (take notice: applauses and admirations to porters), you can not be certain if it is going to rain before you can install the tent, you can not know either how the weather will be on the next morning or the next day when you have 6 hours or more of trekking… but with all of this and much more, here we are, for the surprise of everybody, adapting to the environment… some with blisters in their feet because of the heat of the day, some with nasal hemorrhages because of the sun, some with burned arms and legs, some with diarrhea after drinking this water rich with mineral salts and sand… and everybody, almost everybody, with an aching back because of sleeping in the hard and cold floor… but happy. Let's not lose the good humor and happiness of every day when we contemplate the landscapes that surround us, when we see the luck we have of being here, we have made a difficult election, but now we hare happy, not everybody has the braveness that my teammates have,
who left worried families and children behind, who fight in their jobs
to get a permit or vacations to be able to come on an expedition,
using their savings to make it here.  We all have had to organize so
many things before coming here, having to convince so many people that we are not so crazy and that we only fight for a dream or a goal, that we are sports people, that we have been training for so many months, for this demanding environment, for this mountain that awaits us. I make the commitment here to don't let the bad humor or negativity show at our base camp…we are a wonderful group and we will show it every moment.  The next objective is Urdukas (4,000 m) and an hour away from where we are, we will start to walk over the Baltoro
Glacier.
A big hug,
Lina Quesada

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
 

LINA QUESADA ARRIVES TO SKARDU

Broad Peak is the first eight-thousand which Lina Quesada visited in
2003.  "I had a hard time then, on the day of the summit I couldn't
get beyond the Col (7,500 m.) I could not feel my feet, I was very
cold and I didn't think I could do it, I was afraid of suffering
frostbite and I turned around, I thought, 'well, the mountain will
still be there, maybe I can try it again another day'…
Now I am here again with a stupendous group, I never had a better
company, I know that I will feel part of the group and that I won't be alone.  My teammates are Alberto Zerain, from Vitoria with 5
eight-thousands on his back, and his fellows Aitor Las Hayas and Juan Carlos González; and those who were my teammates in the Gasherbrum 2 expedition during the summer of 2006, Alfredo from La Rioja, Santiago Martin from Segovia and Diego Hernandez from Badajoz. We arrived very exhausted to Skardu last night.  After two days on the road, or better said, track, curves, slopes and paths.  It is not a route I would recommend to anybody, because unsafe driving is usual around here, let's wait that we can fly for our return, because we can skip a lot of dangers in an hour and a half…
The worst comes tomorrow.  We are now in Skardu (2,300 m.) the last town where we can rest in a bed, take a shower and make a last minute shopping, but tomorrow around four in the morning we will start our tour in a jeep, which will take us over a vertiginous track, not apt for people with a weak heart, because in every curve if you look down, you see a precipice and the force that goes to the river…  Better not to think about it… Also those jeeps in which we will travel, with no tracks on their tires… one never knows in which town we have to stop to repair a tire or some other damage, a usual thing.  We will arrive to Askole (3,000 m.) around noon, a town where we will sleep in tents and start the adventure…
The landscape is wonderful, rice crops, little villages with adobe
houses, the strong Braldo river that sweeps everything on its way is
the main axis that will lead us later to the start of the Baltoro
glacier, which we will cross to get to Concordia, the central point of
the 4 eight-thousands that are on this part of the Karakorum, K2 and Broad Peak in the glacier of Goldwin Austen and Gasherbrum I and II in the west part.  The other mountains don't have to envy anything from these eight-thousands, other beautiful mountains like Masherbrum (vertiginous perfect pyramid), Gasherbrum IV, Chogolisa, all of them of an unusual beauty, majestic, which seem forgotten for not being taller than eight-thousand meters and who knows if luckily don't get any visits of almost any climber…
There will be an Spanish expedition this year also in Gasherbrum IV,
we wish luck to our friends who will have the pleasure of transit by
those wonderful slopes and we know for a fact that they will conquer its summit. Good luck friends! On our side, we will not be alone on Broad Peak, there will be an Iranian expedition, which we met in Skardu, Italians, Americans, who knows? The important thing is that once there at base camp we will share the ascent with more friends and that we won't be alone, but we will have to face those last decisive moments on the mountain, the day of the summit, the most risky and important day, each one alone with our inner side, with a strong spirit and with decision.
In our group we keep a good humor so far, we will have a lot of work
this afternoon, we have to organize the barrels, divide the loads, we
have already taken care of the generator, buy ropes, you know… we
can't stop for a moment and in these days of trekking over Baltoro we will join with more and they will make this feel like a nice group, as friends and mountain teammates which I have sometimes missed when I go alone on an expedition.  This is great help, because we know that we have each other and that we can always count with a teammate.
We will leave day after tomorrow from Askole with a group of porters
who will help us with the loads along the trekking, which we still
don't know, they will be waiting for us tomorrow with the cook.  They are usually all Baltan, strong people who are born, grow and live here, in these hard lands, of strong winds, cold winters and dry  and hot summers.  This is an unfriendly landscape which doesn't invite visitors so easily, few adventure through these lands, which offer so much beauty and so many wonderful landscapes to climbers from around the world. Every climber dreams with walls like those found here, Trango Tower, Mustag Tower, no name Tower, authentic jewels of geology and natural architecture.  All of them surround us and leave us breathless when we look at them, and the glaciers that surround them with a silvery white
in the hours of sun.
I cheer you up to visit these lands and get into their landscapes.  So
long friends, I stay here in Skardu, with heat and prepping everything
for what is still to come… a big hug.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

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