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Archive for June, 2008

At Base Camp

June 26th, 2008

Let’s get everyone up to date on the last few days of the expedtion…
June 21: The longest day of the trek leads from Paiju to Urdokas. We walk for 45 minutes and reach the snout of the Baltoro Glacier, which gives birth to the river which flows into the Indus. Most of the team is feeling the altitude, though Chris W. and Tim continue to lead the pack to the next campsite. Urdokas is a steep, grassy hillside with many granite boulders. Those who arrive early get to watch the slower walkers make the weary trudge up the last hill to camp.
It has been sad to see that the last three campsites, which were developed just 5-6 years ago by aid money, are no longer being maintained. The solar light systems are broken, and more disturbingly, donkeys and horses are allowed to graze unchecked on the sparse vegetation. In a few years Paiju, Urdokas, and Jhula will be completely barren. The poor animals show evidence of malnutrition and unhealed wounds. Most of them are used to carry supplies for the military camps, but they are also used to supply trekking parties with bulk stores.
June 22: The walk from Urdokas to Goro II is on the glacier, which is usually rock-covered. We wind through some weird ice fins that jut out of the glacier. The campsite is merely a flat spot on the glacier and is renown for its lack of comfort. However, our staff take good care of us and keep us well-fed. A brilliant, cloud-free afternoon leads to much film being shot of Gasherbrum 4, the Trango group, and many other peaks.
June 23: After a very cold night, all are happy to get out of Goro II. The rock-covered glacier undulates up and down and we slowly gain altitude. After three hours we reach the glacier junction called Concordia and get our first few of K2, which is free of clouds. After an orgy of photography we sit down in chairs and eat lunch off a table under the sun, surrounded by some of the world’s most magnificent mountain scenery. The clouds roll in after lunch and we make the sometimes tricky crossing onto the Godwin-Austen Glacier. What we thought was a one-hour walk turned into three hours and we finally reached camp near Broad Peak Base Camp. Another cold, breezy night made us feel sorry for the porters, who camp with far less gear. They sing late into the night (presumably to stay warm).
June 24: Everyone-climbers, staff, and porters-was ready to trek the last two hours to Base Camp (BC). Mike and Deedar (cook) hoofed it to find a good BC site. We settled on a site above all other teams, but low enough to avoid the air blasts from avalanches. The usual scrum occurred: climbers looking for their gear, porters waiting for tips, and staff getting the first tent platforms made. Soon, camp was quiet and we were all searching for the prime real estate that our personal tents would occupy for the next seven weeks. Many rocks were moved and much gravel shoveled to get a level spot that was also insulated from the bare ice of the glacier. We don’t have to move tomorrow!
June 25: The sun hit our tents about 7 o’clock, instantly warming them (and us). We unzipped the tents to a cloudless sky and K2 soaring way, way above us. We spent the entire day getting camp organized, moving a ton or two of gravel to level out the mess tent floor, sorting gear, and getting sponsor banners tied up. Several impressive avalanches came down from both K2 and Broad Peak. These weren’t snow avalanches, but were bits of seracs (ice cliffs) breaking away. While the dust clouds crossed the track up to Advanced Base Camp, they really weren’t dangerous as they were all air and ice crystals. Somehow, the day drew to a close and we had a nice dinner before relaxing in our tent.
June 26: We awoke to another glorious day. Today we will continue to unpack and organize. We hope that our gear arrives in a couple of days. Paul is scheduled to arrived on June 30. Tomorrow we plan to make a light carry to Advanced Base Camp (ABC), which is within sight of BC.
Finally, there is a lot of stuff published on the web about the happenings on K2, and much of it is inaccurate. The only accurate place to find out information about our team is this site (and the sister blogs listed here). We will try to keep you informed every 2-3 days.
The photo was taken June 26 at Base Camp, looking up at K2. Our route lies behind the right-hand skyline ridge of K2.

BC2.jpg

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On the Trail

June 25th, 2008

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. If you want to see photos of the trek (from previous years), visit the links on the expedition web page (www.TheAltitudeExperience.com/k2). And don’t forget to visit the other blogs listed here for more details. Mike

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On to Base Camp

June 25th, 2008

Note: this post is now a couple of days old. We'll be in BC tomorrow.
All are well, more soon...

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. If you want to see photos of the trek (from previous
years), visit the links on the expedition web page
(www.TheAltitudeExperience.com/k2). And don't forget to visit the other
blogs listed here for more details.
Mike

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Posted in 2008 International K2 Expedition | Comments (0)

Leaving for Askole

June 16th, 2008

We plan to do the 8 hour jeep ride to Askole tomorrow, Tuesday the 17th. We flew to Skardu on Saturday and the weather has been hot and sunny. Today (Monday) we packed our loads for the trek and did our last minute shopping. Some of the guys went for a swim in the river below the Masherbrum Hotel on Sunday.

It may be over a week until our next post. It depends on the weather in Paiju, where we take our first rest day. We’ll try to get a photo or two posted. Your humble author (Mike) has been way too busy to work on that yet.

We’re in good spirits and good health so far. Things will get more interesting soon, though a cow was standing outside the Internet Cafe a few minutes ago. Now I’m off to get a haircut and shave.

Mike

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Leaving for Skardu

June 13th, 2008

On Saturday (June 14) we hope to depart Islamabad after several days of preparations. Members began arriving on Monday and Chhiring will arrive from Nepal late Friday night. Paul Walters will be coming in about 10 days after us,
While the weather in Islamabad has been typically hot, we have kept our cool through the generous support of Warid Telecom. They have placed their guest house and staff at our disposal, and we have been expertly cared for by all members of the staff. Many thanks to Shahzad Rauf for arranging the generous support of Warid Telecom.
Ashraf, Niaknam, and the rest of Adventure Tours Pakistan staff have worked with their usual diligence to ensure that we get from airport to Base Camp with our luggage and our sanity.
We haven’t really spent any time sightseeing, as we’ve been too busy with last minute purchases and the typical technology difficulties faced by modern expeditions. However, Chris Warner and Mike Farris had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant in the hills overlooking Islamabad. Our Liaison Officer, Lt. Commander Temur Pirzada, hosted the dinner. We already see how lucky we are to have Temur as our L.O.
From this post, I hope you see that these expeditions cannot succeed without the efforts of many people. Much joy comes from the friendships we make during our travels.
We will post again after we’ve spent a couple of days Skardu. Mike

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Blog restored!

June 13th, 2008

Ok, we’re back in business (I hope). If you previously signed up to get an email when a post was made, you’ll have to sign up again (sorry).

I hope I’ll actually be able to post a real update today. But for now, I need to make sure all computer systems are operating properly before we cast loose from the internet.

Mike

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Welcome

June 12th, 2008

Greetings!

This blog will have information about my forthcoming book “The Altitude Experience” and our K2 expedition, currently in progress.

A major blog crash (brought on by mindless editing while jet lagged) means that if you registered earlier, you’ll have to register again. I’ll try to get a real post up soon, but I’m still reconfiguring the software.

Mike

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