Laila Peak Ski Expedition 2009
This summer I’m going to
Pakistan with my Italian friend Michele Fait to try to climb and ski the
world’s second highest mountain K2 (8612m).
As acclimatization for K2
we will make an attempt to ski Laila Peak (6069m).
The expedition starts on
May 30 when we will fly to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. We will spend a
few days in the city for meetings with the Pakistan Alpine club to organize
climbing permit and with our trekking agency Karakurum Magic Mountain (KMM).
KMM helps us with all the logistics in Pakistan and will set us up with a base
camp team that will cook food for Michele and I when we are in base camp.
From Islamabad we have a
one hour flight up north to Skardu, the last town before we hit the mountains.
Skardu is our last opportunity to pick up gear and food that we need for our
two months stay in the mountains. Epi gas for our Primus stoves, chips and
chocolate bars are some of the things we will buy in Skardu. From Skardu a
five hours drive takes us to the small village of Hushe at the end of the
road. From there on we will continue on foot. Around June 6 we start the two
days trek towards Laila Peak.
is one of the most beautiful mountains in Pakistan - if not the world -with
its summit forming a perfect needle shape. The peak is synonymous with its
northwest face which drops down the mountains at almost uniform gradient
forming a giant ramp. Its northern and eastern sides consist of contrasting
steep granite. The mountain is located east of
the Gondogoro glacier and west of the Chogolisa Glacier in the Masherbrum
Mountains of Baltistan. Most people have set eyes on the peak after crossing
the Gondogoro La from Concordia.
The first ascent was by a four man British
team including Simon Yates, Sean Smith and Mark Miller who climbed the peak in
1987 via the west face from the Gondogoro Glacier. Simon Yates dedicated a
chapter in his book The Flame of Adventure on the ascent of Laila Peak.
With approximately 1500m ascent the
mountain can be climbed in alpine style in one day but many people will choose
to bivi on route then summit and descend on the second day. Climbing is
mid-grade with an inclination of no more than 55 degrees.
In 2005 Jörgen Aamot and I made two
attempts to climb and ski the northwest face of Laila Peak. On both occasions
the top section was too icy to ski so we turned around at 5950m and skied down
to the Gondogoro Glacier (4500m). It’s my favorite ski descent of all times.
Until this day no one has skied from the summit of Laila Peak.
This summer we will spend about two weeks
on Laila Peak. It will be the perfect warm-up for K2 and hopefully we can ski
from the summit this time.
K2 is the second highest mountain in the
world and is located on the border between China and Pakistan. Reinhold
Messner called K2 the "Mountain of Mountains" after his ascent in 1979. This
pyramid of a mountain is right in the heart of the Karokoram Range and can be
seen in its entirety from Concordia. It is at the head of the Godwin Austin
Glacier which unites with a second glacier at Concordia to form the famous
Baltoro Glacier. It is said to be the ultimate climb, since many consider it
to be much more technically challenging than Mount Everest.
The name K2 is derived from the notation
used by the Great Trigonometric Survey. On 10 September 1856, Thomas
Montgomerie made the first survey of the Karakoram from Mount Haramukh, some
130 miles to the south, and sketched the two most prominent peaks, labeling
them K1 and K2.
In 1954 the Italians Lino
Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni were the first to summit K2. They climbed the
Abruzzi ridge. After the 2008 season K2 has been climbed 298 times but so far
no one has managed to make a complete ski descent of K2.
K2 is known as the Savage
Mountain due to the difficulty of ascent and the high fatality rate among
those who climb it. For every four people who
have reached the summit, one has died trying. Among the eight-thousanders, K2
has the second highest climbing mortality rate.
After Laila Peak we will arrive at K2 base
camp around June 20. Then we will use about three weeks for acclimatization
before we try for the summit. The route we will try to climb and ski is called
The Cesen Route and is the south-southeast ridge.
I will post news and photos regularly from
the K2 Expedition so that you follow our progress.
Sponsors: Dynastar, Tierra, Osprey,
Hestra, Grivel, Adidas Eyewear
Supporters: Tissot, Giro,
Scarpa, Primus, Garmin, Honey Stinger, Ortovox, Exped, Jämtport
weather, high altitude double boot for extreme conditions The Olympus
Mons is the perfect choice for 8000-meter peaks. This super lightweight
double boot has a PE thermal insulating inner boot that is coupled with
a thermo-reflective outer boot with an integrated gaiter. We used a
super insulating lightweight PE outsole to keep the weight down and the
TPU midsole is excellent for crampon compatibility and stability on
steep terrain. WEIGHT: 39.86 oz • 1130 g LAST: Olympus Mons
CONSTRUCTION: Inner: Slip lasted Outer: Board Lasted OUTER BOOT: Cordura®
upper lined with dual-density PE micro-cellular thermal insulating
closed cell foam and thermo-reflective aluminium facing/ Insulated
removable footbed/ Vibram® rubber rand
See more here.