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  Mike Farris K2 2008: Summit attempts?


Copyright© Billy Pierson

In the last few days, most of the teams on both the Abruzzi and SSE Spur have agreed to cooperate to increase the chances of a successful summit attempt. There have been two meetings in which the teams decided who would fix rope above C4, what gear would be needed above Camp 3, and who would supply the gear. This lead team will be made up mostly of high-altitude porters from Nepal and Pakistan, and most will be using oxygen. A weather report today has some teams prepared to start a summit bid on July 21, though they are awaiting additional forecasts to confirm the summit weather window.

Teams are also hoping to summit Broad Peak and Gasherbrum I and II over the next two days. The winds will be the deciding factor.

Earlier: Unstable Weather: July 10th, 2008 : July 10: Greetings! We’ve been sitting through many days of unstable weather, which is the norm on K2. We’ve been making forays up the hill to sleep a night or two at Camp I, but bad weather has kept us from getting much higher since our last report. Today, three climbers are hoping to sleep at C2 and another will stay at C1. Tomorrow, the rest of us will climb to C1 and then spend a couple of nights at C2. The goal right now is to acclimatize to Camp 2 altitude and sleep at Camp 3 over the next couple of weeks, which will prepare us for a summit attempt. Still a long time before any summit attempts from our team. Most of the team helped re-establish the mess tent one morning. The ice melts out and you have to reset all tent platforms every couple of weeks. We moved lots of rock and the newly pitched tent is better organized and seems to be more spacious. All other teams are waiting for good weather as well. We wander between the various Base Camps, checking on the weather reports and picking up bits of information. Patience is the key to this game, and we have a month left at K2 to get the job done. Next time, I hope to have more action to report. The weather looks better for the next two days, so we’ll try to make good use of it. Mike

July 5: We are experiencing a beautiful day, and all members are in Base Camp. We have established a tent at Camp I, and yesterday two members reached the site of Camp II and stashed a tent and other gear. It was too windy to do more, but they did a great job just getting there.
Today we plan to take a team photo (since all members are now here) and strategize for the upcoming days. Getting all members acclimatized and Camp I and II established with two tents each are the top goals. The weather forecast is decent but you never know on K2!
The whole team was assembled in BC, so we had a big planning session–quite productive. The trick is to get the right gear to the right camps at the right time, and to let everyone have plenty of time to acclimatize at the various camps. We now know our jobs the next few days, so there will be a lot of activity on the hill until the weather goes bad.
Please note that we can’t keep you posted on the exact movements of every climber every day. We agreed to function as a team–not individuals– so it really doesn’t matter who does what, as long as we continue to make progress. Everyone is healthy and motivated, though the goat stomach we had for lunch tested even the most grizzled veteran. It was actually quite nice smothered in chiles.
Mike

Earlier: July 2nd, 2008 : July 2: Our long-awaited cargo arrived yesterday. We had spent the past three days scanning the moraine below our camp for porters, much like sailors used to search for land from the crow’s nest of their ship. 4000m of rope, ice screws, snow stakes, pitons, and lots of other group food and equipment now crowd our mess tent. We expect Paul and Kirsty to arrive this afternoon, so our team will finally be complete. Yesterday saw Eric, Chhiring, Fred, and Chris K. getting halfway to Camp 1 after sleeping in Advance Base Camp (ABC–get used to the acronyms!). Today, Fred and Chris K. are attempting to reach C1 and get a tent in place. Tim and Chris W. have carried gear to ABC in support of Fred and Chris K. and will stay the night in ABC. Tomorrow they will head up to C1. Mike will finally be able to organize his food etc. (much was in the cargo shipment) and will head up to ABC this afternoon and stay the night. Our short-term goal is to establish two tents at C1. The weather is predicted to be good for the next few days, after several days that saw alternating sun, clouds, and snow showers. We have hopefully worked out the political issues that occur when multiple teams attempt the same route. A fuller account of this is best left for post-expedition discussion. These issues are a normal part of climbing a big and crowded mountain these days.

Earlier: International K2 Expedition: Saturday, June 28. Today most team members carried loads to Advanced Base Camp through light snow and wind. We hope that our tardy air cargo arrives within the next two days, as we have no tents or rope for the mountain. Paul Walters is scheduled to arrive in a day or two, bringing the team to full strength.

We continue to meet the other occupants of K2 Base Camp and hope to develop good relationships with the other climbers on our route (Abruzzi Ridge). Most of us are also renewing old acquaintances forged on other mountains.

Our goal is to climb K2 without the use of supplemental oxygen and high-altitude porters. Since other teams have been in BC for a while,

they are already placing fixed ropes on the climb. Most of this work is being done by Sherpa and Pakistani high-altitude porters hired by the Korean and Serbian teams working on the Abruzzi. Mike

Earlier: Hi! I haven’t won the technology battles, but I’m gaining an advantage. My phone will only acquire a satellite signal if it’s heated to 100 degrees F or higher! This makes life difficult. Also, my iBook has no idea how to regulate its battery, so it will go from 100% charge to 0% within seconds. Argh.

Things are getting under control. We are still waiting on our air cargo with all of our mountain gear. Until we get it (2-3 days) we’re limited in what we can do. Nobody is in a big hurry (which is good) and I’m finally getting organized. I can’t wait to get up on the hill, as it means I’m not doing organizational crap.

Aside from a terminally-runny nose, I’m feeling pretty good. Sleeping better, coughing very little. Administrative duties are decreasing, but we still have some issues to deal with. Today I might actually be able to get together my gear to visit ABC tomorrow! Cheers,
Mike

Earlier: Hi, I’m going to keep it short again. I’m fighting way too many technology battles. My brand new and expensive Thuraya 2520 sat phone now refuses to pick up the sat signal. It’s been nothing but trouble since arriving in Pakistan. You can’t use it in the USA because there is no satellite coverage. Luckily Chris K. has the same phone (which works for calls but has other problems) so we’re covered for now. And, my computer battery has a very short lifespan (so I’m typing quickly).

Aside from a minor cough and some sniffles, all is well with me. I’m still in the middle of a three-ring circus, with our main group in Paiju, cargo in Skardu (tomorrow), and Paul coming to Islamabad in two days. The hike is the easy part!

Today is a rest day, which I need. The trip will get simpler for me the further we go, so I’m looking forward to simply climbing the mountain. I didn’t realize how buried I was in logistics until most of it went away.

Time for another cup of tea.
P.S. Now my phone is working-at least for the moment!
P.P.S. It’s three days later. We’re in BC tomorrow. More soon
Mike

Earlier: Greetings! If you’re reading this, our technology is working, at least in part. We are in Paiju, at 3300m just below the snout of the Baltoro Glacier. Today (Friday, June 20) is a rest day. This may seem silly since we’ve only been walking two days, but in reality we’ve been traveling for several days (first by plane, then jeep, then by foot).

The trek has been uneventful so far. The first days are always dusty- the valley is full of dust and sand that is formed as the glacier grinds up rock. Luckily it rained the first night on the trail, and yesterday the dust was minimal. The sun can be brutal, so an early start paid off yesterday.

Paiju is a campsite on a hillside with some trees. The tents are pitched on a series of terraces. This rest day is used to prepare for the trek up the glacier, and many goats have met their end as they are slaughtered to provide meet for the porters.

The team is in generally good health. We have the usual collection of sore throats, sniffles, and the occasional person with diarrhea. Hopefully today will allow us to rehydrate and rest.

All of our air cargo is in Pakistan and will arrive a couple of days after we get to Base Camp. This, along with various technology issues, have been the biggest headaches so far. Mike’s brand-new Thuraya satellite phone seems to have quit working, and his computer battery is also erratic.

We should arrive in Base Camp on June 23 or 24, and we’ll post a new dispatch then. Mike

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