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Archive for July, 2008

We all head up

July 27th, 2008

July 27: The weather is predicted to be good for several days starting July 31, so we are heading up the hill in two waves. Fredrick, Chhiring, Chris K. and Eric are leaving today for Camp I, while Chris W., Paul, and Mike will follow along on July 29. We intend to go as high as possible.
Almost every team on the mountain is cooperating to make this push, as it is the first (and possibly last) period of weather we might get that will be calm enough to attempt the summit.
As a group, we’ve decided not to post updates until we are back in Base Camp. Why? First, it takes a lot of energy to worry about posting on the internet while we are climbing. Second, we don’t have a BC manager to deal with these issues.
If you visit some of the climbing news sites you will likely see information posted about the progress of different teams. We are not sending any information to these sites. Some sites post a lot of unverified information that later turns out to be wrong. So,
Don’t believe anything unless you hear it directly from us!!
We will be carrying satellite phones on the mountain, so each member can contact his relatives if desired. That is a personal choice of each member. Even so, we have limited battery power so don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from us for many days. No news is good news!
We may not post on the web again until August 5 or so. Maybe earlier, but don’t count on it. All members are in good health and good spirits. We’ll talk to you soon.
Mike

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We wait in Base Camp

July 23rd, 2008

July 23: We continue to wait in Base Camp for good weather. We anticipate being down off the mountain until at least July 27. Everyone is trying to stay occupied after many days of inactivity. Weather at BC isn’t too bad, but the winds are far too high to climb above Camp 1 right now.
We’ll update again in a couple of days when the weather forecasts allow us to see the trends at the beginning of August.
Cheers, Mike

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Crappy weather arrives

July 20th, 2008

July 20: The weather forecast isn’t good for a number of days, so don’t expect too much activity from us.
Fredrick, Chris K., Chhiring, and Eric spent an uncomfortable night at C3 before descending a couple of days ago. The route up the Black Pyramid is long, and we’re happy to finally have a foothold on the upper mountain. Mike, Chris W., and Paul are waiting on a weather window to get in a couple of nights at C3.
All climbers are in BC now. The group that trekked out reached Islamabad a couple of days ago.
Here are a couple of miscellaneous items:
Thuraya SMS: We have been having many problems with this. One great suggestion is to use Internet Explorer rather than Firefox, Safari, or another browser. If you send an SMS, please indicate how it was send in the message (IEWin for windows IE, IEMac for mac IE, etc). This will help us figure out what works. Any twelve-year old in a programming class could fix the Thuraya web site (assuming this is the problem), but apparently Thuraya only hires eight-year-olds (and their software shows it).
Google Earth: Look us up! Our lat/long is: N 35 deg 50 min 17.93 sec E 76 deg 20 min 47.75 sec
Emails: If you are sending a member email, please cut all extra text etc. from the email. We are running a minimal system here (essentially a 9600 B modem), so get rid of all of the unneeded quoted text etc. to help us.
But–emails are welcome so don’t hesitate to say hi!
Mike

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Tim leaves, the rest continue

July 17th, 2008

July 17: Here’s a short report. As the Magic 8 Ball says, “Things may become clear shortly.”
Tim Horvath has left for home to attend to some personal matters. We’ll really miss Tim’s experience on the mountain. He departed with Kirsty (who trekked to Base Camp with Paul) and both were escorted down by Taimur, our trusty LO. They should be back to Skardu in the next couple of days.
As for the rest of us, we’ve split into two groups: Chris K., Fredrick, Chhiring and Eric form one team while Chris W., Paul, and Mike form the other group. We had to do this because there are simply not enough tent sites available on the mountain. The photo attached shows the best tent site available at Camp II (6700m, 22,000 ft). The ‘campsite’ is a 30 degree slope, and the stuff you see sticking out of the platform is bits of old abandoned tents. We can’t get in enough tents at either Camp 1 or Camp 2 to handle more than 4 climbers at a time. (You may be able to see a telephoto of Camp 2 if you go to the expedition web page and navigate to the route description).
All of the ‘climbing’ is on fixed ropes so far. Even so, the route is not an obvious ridge. We follow snowfields, rock ribs, and generally weave our way up through fairly featureless terrain
Chris W., Paul, and Mike spent four nights on the mountain from June 11-15, acclimatizing at Camps I and 2 during some windy weather. The other group is on the hill today, having spend last night (June 16) at Camp 2. We are really hoping they are pushing for Camp 3 today, as the weather appears excellent from Base Camp.
The other teams that arrived earlier than us are thinking about a summit attempt in a few days, assuming the weather forecast holds. It’s unlikely that any of our team could participate as we are behind the other groups in acclimatization. But who knows? Each climber will make his own decision.
As we spend more time on the mountain, there will be longer intervals between blog posts. We’ll try and keep you up-to-date as well as we can.
Mike

camp2.jpg

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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

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Camp II Reached

July 5th, 2008

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
Here’s a photo of Tim at the site of Camp I (about 6100m or 20,200 ft). No level ground here! Photo © Chris Warner.

camp1a.jpg

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Our Gear Arrives (and hopefully Paul too)

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.

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