Archive for the ‘2008 International K2 Expedition’ Category

Thanks for your donations

February 19th, 2009

Last night I gave a presentation on the K2 tragedy at St. Olaf College. A total of $396 was collected for the families of the four porters who died. Thanks for donating! Along with your generosity and the contributions of teammates Chris Warner (AUS) and Fredrick Strang (SWE), each family will receive over $600. In countries where the per-capita income is only a few hundred dollars, this is a significant amount of money.

I would also like the thank St. Olaf College; the departments of Biology, Exercise Science, and Environmental Studies; The Science and the Liberal Arts Year Theme; and Henry Kermott, who holds the Marie M. Meyer Distinguished Professorship and who provided the refreshments.

This event would not have been possible without the help of my wife, Kathy Shea (Biology) who did most of the initial organization and Tory Borovsky, who handled the details. Thanks to all.


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Follow Mike’s blog from now on

August 23rd, 2008

August 23: For some reason, my last few posts to this blog didn’t, well, post. Since I’ll be┬áthe only one still in Pakistan after tomorrow, I’ll limit my blog posts to my personal blog. So go there instead.


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A worthless update

August 11th, 2008

August 11: I have had no word from the Gondogoro La group. They should be reaching Skardu today or tomorrow or so–maybe you’ve heard from them already.

I am trying to decide what to do: stay or go. Maybe the next weather forecast will decide.
I told you there wasn’t much here.

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On the way out

August 9th, 2008

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.

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Preparing to depart

August 6th, 2008

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 (he’ll explain more fully on his personal blog, hopefully today). 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 on this blog. 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).
Email alert: Please don’t send email to the team email address after August 7. Mike will continue to answer his emails until further notice.
We will continue with the blog until all members are back in their home countries.
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.

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All safe in Base Camp

August 3rd, 2008

August 3: Please excuse the brevity, but we are still very busy here. We arrived in BC at 1:30 last night. All members are now in BC, safe and sound (though tired). Chhiring summited K2, so we are very happy about that. Unfortunately, a beautiful day turned deadly and up to 11 climbers lost there lives.
We are still involved in the rescue of two climbers; we think that both rescues are going well and the climbers should be in BC by tomorrow.
More details later. Thanks for your support.

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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.

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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!

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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.


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