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  Mike Farris K2 2008: The current summit team of Americans and Sherpas


Copyright© Billy Pierson

August 9: Everyone except for Mike starting out yesterday. Our porters should have been up here by noon, but they had other ideas (like an easy day, rather than leaving right away upon arrival at BC). So all the guys except for Fred headed down to Concordia without porters or baggage–a real “Inshallah” moment. Well, the porters finally did show up (at least those needed to carry member gear) so they and Fred took off.

The guys wanted to go over the Gondogoro La, a 5600m pass that has stunning views when the weather is clear. I found out later that the road is washed out and an extra day’s trekking is involved if you go that way. At this point I don’t know if they went that route or descended the Baltoro Glacier, the way we came up. I’ll pass that info along if I find out. ***LATE FLASH: they went out the Gondogoro. After dinner, our cook Deedar organized a short Muslim prayer ceremony in honor of the dead. He was very attached to Gerard, and his loss has been quite hard on Deedar. Come to think of it, on me too.

The porters sang and drummed until after 10pm last night. This morning’s supposed 6:30 AM start didn’t happen until nearly 8:00. In a moment, the loads were gone and our camp became quiet. I went down to the ‘American Camp’ of Chuck, Andy, and Dave with bacon and real maple syrup and in return got American-style pancakes, a real treat. Afterwards Chuck and I went to visit the Singapore group (Ed, Robert, and 2 Sherpas). They are clearing their camps, and we want to minimize the amount of work done by both their group and our group. No sense carrying stuff up if it’s already up there, and vice versa (sorta). Deedar and I are getting camp reorganized. I’m planning to move my tent tomorrow (for the last time). Weather is the big issue. No stable summit windows are apparent for at least a week. The current summit team consists of Chuck, Dave, George, his two Sherpas, and myself. We plan to use oxygen due to the total lack of backup below us. Until we get some indication of suitable summit weather, I’m doing little but rattling on like this. The other guys need to do some prep work to get their gear in place. Mike

Earlier: August 6: The team expects to leave BC on August 8, assuming the porters show up as promised. Mike will be staying behind to consider an additional attempt. All other members will hike out over the Gondogoro La, a 5600m pass with stunning views in good weather. It also means you get to trek out a different route and see different sights. Everyone’s in good shape, and luckily today is nice and sunny, making for easy packing. The glacial rocks are strewn with clothing, gear, and food as everyone gets to clean and organize in preparation for departure.

You might ask why we haven’t posted pictures. Frankly, it just hasn’t seemed that important. Up until about 6pm last night, our tent was one of the epicenters of rescue operations, and the last injured person was picked up by chopper this morning. We need a little personal time! Most of us haven’t had a shower in 10 days (yuk, and we agree).

We thank you for your concern over the past week. You won’t read about our team in the papers or see us on the news. That’s because our team was successful in summiting K2 and we all descended without injury or death. How boring and non-newsworthy. Please send your prayers to the friends and family of those who remain on K2. We continue to work to understand exactly what happened, in large part to help the survivors better understand the last hours of the doomed climbers. Mike

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