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with Stefan Nestler

Avalanche on K 2

K 2 Base Camp

With this monarch is not to be joked. K 2, the “king of the eight-thousanders”, is moody and therefore dangerous. “This morning at 8:12 am, we saw (a) big avalanche coming from (the) Abruzzi route,” Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of the Nepalese expedition operator Dreamers Destination, writes on Facebook. The Abruzzi route, following the path of the Italian first ascenders in 1954, leads via the Southeast Ridge of the mountain (look at the picture below, route F). “We feel all (that) Camp 3 (at about 7,300 m) is swept away again. I am sure we have all our deposit near Camp 4 because our Sherpa team made it on (a) ice cliff, but it is likely sure that all the fixed ropes are washed away.” Tomorrow his Sherpa team will go up again to assess the situation.

Strong wind in the summit area

Russell Brice

According to Mingma, the weather forecast for the coming days is anything but rosy. “It shows snow at 8,000 m every evening and very high wind at (the) summit which delays our summit plan. (We are) Waiting for good weather to come.” It is the same with the other teams in the Base Camp at the foot of K 2, with an altitude of 8,611 meters the second highest mountain on earth. For many, time is slowly running out. Russell Brice, head of the New Zealand expedition operator Himalayan Experience, points out that his team has to leave the Base Camp on 4 August at the latest to catch the booked home flights. “We all know our backs are against the wall,” writes Brice. “But everyone is prepared to work hard, carry loads, dig tent platforms and the like and not just leave it for the Sherpas and HAP (Pakistani high altitude porters) to do.”

Sleepless nights

Routes on the Pakistani south side of K 2

Russell also points to the strong wind to be expected in the upper part of the mountain, which is unlikely to allow fixing ropes up to the highest camp at about 8,000 meters before 20 July. His team is climbing the Cesen route (on the picture route E), via the Southsoutheast Ridge. Brice is not quite euphoric about the situation. “So let’s see what happens in the coming days and what adventures lie ahead,” writes the 65-year-old experienced expedition manager who’s up to every Himalayan and Karakoram trick. “But I am sure this is going to involve many sleepless nights.” The king of the eight-thousanders is rarely granting summit audiences.


14. July 2017 | 14:41