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 K2 2001: Qgir - K2 Himalaya 8000 expedition 2001

Qgir - K2 Himalaya 8000 expedition 2001

The Czech Expedition: HIMALAYA 8000 K2 (8612 meters) & Broad Peak (8047 meters) Current Dispatches

Archives Dispatches are below:

Update 6/1/2001: The Expedition starts in a few days !

Dispatch 6/19/2001 -Islamabad

Expedition Qgir - K2 arrived to Islamabad: Arriving to Islamabad eight members of the expedition team Himalaya 8000 will try to reach the summit of the second highest mountain in the world in the next two months. The 16 hour flight with two transfers in Roma and Dubai is noticeable on all members, said the leader of the expedition Zdenek Hruby. Very unexpected was fast airport clearance and the accommodation at the hotel.

Time difference compared to The Czech Republic is only +3 hours, the same day of arrival we applied for an extension of our regular tourist visa which are for 30 days. When compared to Nepal, which we know so well, we are amazed how cargo sent a week ahead arrived and our Pakistani partner picked it up and delivered it to our hotel. This is an absolute dream said deputy leader Josef Simunek. This afternoon we planned to visit the Czech embassy in Islamabad and than just relax. It Could be - if this dreamy situation will last - that the expedition will leave for the mountains on Tuesday.

When you say: It is going great! Last news about all necessary organizational issues here in the capital of Pakistan going so well things were tendentious. At the airport each of us received a visa with a big number 30. So, based on this, within a month we should be leaving. At that time the front team of our climbers will be somewhere under the summit. We need two months. We will take care of the extension of your visa, said two representatives from a hired agency, who already for the last 6 months have been working on the preparation of this expedition. We got in an air-conditioned bus and this followed: visit at visa office, copies of passports were needed, copy center was close by, back at the visa office, must pay 35 rupees at the national bank, after cutting in line we get three documents about this payment, so each of us is filling everything out three times, finally leader Zdenek Hruby is paying for everyone, back at the visa office, another form to fill out, clerk is signs it, everyone with signed form must go to see director of the office, regardless our presence in the office there are two clerks to pass our forms to the director, director is signing, going back to the first clerk of course every member separately, he collect forms and has us sign the back of one of form from the national bank, finally we can go with info that maybe tomorrow it will be done. The leader of this expedition and his deputy are saying how easy and smooth it goes in Pakistan.

Uncovered: Pakistanis are nut-brown people with dark eyes impossible to penetrate. From rich clerk to homeless ones on the street they all have uniformly and neatly cut hair and beards. They are quietly sitting by the road or by the stores in the shadows. It is not that difficult to communicate with them. Although they do not speak English, if you knee-bend between them, they smile and show their palms to say hello. Actually they seem friendly. Stories about Pakistanis looking at us contemptuously lost their ground very fast. One expectation came to reality. They noticed Sona Vomackova ! She didn't want to wrap herself in to kerchiefs, so Sona cut her hair short and dressed just like us male members. Well, not good enough. Everybody is turning heads like army radars. It is not surprised, she was noticed. You can not see women on the streets during day. Well, almost.

Second Dispatch 6/20/2001 - On the way to the BC

Himalaya8000 left for the mountains Karakorum on the third day. We got up at four in the morning, packed, had a quick breakfast and left at five in the morning by minibus completely loaded with all of our gear, expedition team and four Pakistanis: Sirdar (leader of porters), liaison officer, and two helpers.

Based on our experience from other expeditions the liaison officer is very important. He represents all of the government offices in the base camp and for example in Nepal the liaison officer himself shamelessly negotiates higher bribes. We hope it will be different here. As our leader Zdenek Hruby found out this liaison officer is young and he is going with an expedition for the first time. So hopefully he is not corrupted yet.

The trip under Qgir will last 9 or 10 days. The members of the expedition will spend the first two days in the minibus. Today we had 14 hours of ride, while we made 500 km from Islamabad to Chilas. The road was full of rocky valleys of the west arm of the high Himalayas. About 100 km was along the river Indus, which was intense and muddy. The liaison Officer said that Indus is in maximum flow. The river is so deep that some time ago a minibus fell in - the same type of bus as ours - and nobody found it or saw it since. In our opinion this liaison officer is quite a joker.

We were 14 hours in the Pakistani minibus, which turns off the air-conditioning on every hill to get the maximum efficiency of motor. So, after this toilsome part of the trip we were treated the beautiful view of the eight thousander Nanga Parbat. This mountain was covered by early evening clouds. Tomorrow we plan the second half of this minibus bane - 200 km by famous Karakorum Highway. Our Sirdar estimated this part to be about a 10 hour ride.

Update 6/22/2001: The seven members expedition Czech team has arrived to attempt Broad Peak then K2. Zdenek Hruby is leading the expedition. They departed on June 17th for Pakistan.

6/24/2001 - Jola - Payu

We have been walking for 6 hours on the rocky terrain up and down. We have about 200 porters on the road. Our Czech team is progressing in the front and a group of self-confident Estonia men are falling behind. We arrived to the camp Paya around three o'clock, just when it started to rain a bit. We can see Pakistani organizational insufficiency, because the porter carrying our tents is arriving as last. Getting wet, we were pretty angry at first, but our anger did not last that long. As he arrives, we see a 1.5 m tall man with a big smile on his face. (He must take some of that good green under his tongue.) He has flowers behind both ears and in his mouth. We started to call him Happy. Camp Paya is beautiful. For the first time we can see seven thousanders and sirdar Sultan swears that the small top somewhere behind the horizon is the fourth summit of Gasherbrum.

The road was not only full of rocks, but also had plenty of traps. A fake turns up the hills, or favorite places of the porters where they were cooking their food and relieving themselves. Let’s just say, they did not go far to do so at all. It was very interesting to watch the faces of the expedition members not used such things. At first their faces were twisted with disgust. Moments later with full concentration they were hopping in this “trap field “. Another trap was a strong stream. Now, let me remind you, that each of us is carrying a huge back pack loaded with our climbing gear. We could cross the stream only with four or five jumps from one wet stone to the other. It is known, that one climber helps another climber in need. When the writer of this paragraph arrived to the banks of this furious creek, the leader of this expedition Zdenek Hruby and the member of this expedition Radek Jaros were waiting on the other side of the stream without their bags. Waiting for what? To HELP? Yeah, right. They were ready to take pictures...

All of a sudden Pakistani porters we coming for help. At the beginning the liaison officer was translating: “He has a stomach pain, perhaps he ate something bad. Do you have any medicine? What is wrong with him?” We don’t know. It could be even inflammation, we think. We want to help him! The fact is, we do not have a doctor with us. Should we give him medicine? So, we gave the porter a pill for digestion and a pain killer. There were others coming for help with various problems. Complaining about scratches, hurt fingers and other little things. Finally we got to have a dinner. At dinner the porter complained about having a blister on his foot. Bouda ( expedition member ) stopped eating, jumped up and showed his foot to the porter. He had a blister much bigger than the porter and he was not complaining. That was our victory! The complaining of the porters stopped immediately.

6/25/2001 - Relaxing day in Payu

The porters need a day off. Before we enter the glacier they have to bake a supply of pancakes called capati. They can not prepare these pancakes on the glacier, for they need fire to do it. So we have a day off. Finally after several days it is time to wash our selves. The water is ice cold. We are also washing our most important pieces of clothing. During afternoon Radek Jaros hurt his left eye-lid. It happened in a peculiar way. He sneezed and bent over. A branch of near by bush got in his eye. Just to remind you, we do not have a doctor here. Zdenek Hruby pulled out splinters from the eye lid using tweezers and cleaned the cut. We hope it is nothing serious.

Josef Simunek also had problems. During the last trek his sock rolled down before he noticed and he scratched his left heel. At first it glance it looked as if he would not be able to wear his shoes for 2 -3 days. We decided to tape over the wound with carpet tape to protect the heel. Finally Sona Vomackova administered oil from a tea tree. So now it looks as if Josef will leave with everyone tomorrow for the glacier. We are paying extreme attention to acclimation. We have a special apparatus for measuring acclimatization for the members. Camp Payu is 3300 m. Looking at saturation of the oxygen in the blood and heart frequency we are able to monitor everyone’s adjustment to the new altitudes. Everyone is in great condition.

To wash yourself in the ice cold stream, coming out from the ground is a 600m deep glacier. This water is water just because it is liquid. Its temperature is between 1-12 degrees C. The water also carries sand and to wash without frozen bits, we must use the puddle on the banks. Some are big enough to accommodate 2-3 climbers. We are standing in the water coming up to our ankles and we soup up our heads and butts. Using cups from the kitchen we are splashing soap a way. This activity seems to be very entertaining for our porters. Poor Sona, she had to find puddle for herself much closer to glazier. The Porters nosey eyes were looking everywhere.

We were told that In Pakistan we will have to deal with the army, frequent controls, and permanent danger on the way to the mountains. The situation here is this: We do not see a uniform on the road between mountains. Locals are affable. We can joke about anything. Nobody has a problem with our binoculars, satellite phone or dictaphone. In army dictatorships such tools are usually carefully watched. They take it easy here. It is also true that the road we are on is lined with army phone wire. Here and there we see empty canisters and heliports. Once or twice a day we see helicopters in khaki color flying over us. If we get a bit off the road, Chalid points behind glazier moren saying: Do not go there, there is, there is,….. Just don’t go there!

6/26/2001 Payu - Urdukas

We entered Baltoro glacier from camp Paya, which is in 3300 meters. We left at 6 in the morning, because it is beautiful weather over Karakorum mountains right now. It is a very hard to go 8 and more hours a day up the constantly gradual hill, having almost equatorial sun over our heads. Our chef Peter did not helped the situation. In an attempt at good will to make a food familiar to us Europeans, he made a pizza with sardines. One Member of the expedition team Ludek Bouda Ondrej had to get up 3 times during the night. The rest of us had a pill for a breakfast.

Urducas is a beautiful little camp between glacier moraine and sheer hill. We were passing six-thousanders on both sides on the way there. There are two glacier lakes, so all of us went right in disregarding the cold. Having in mind ecological issues, we did not use a soap, but even that, there were visible spots of the washed off sun-proof cream on the water. Right over the lakes is a path for donkeys herdsmen. They often stopped to watch the naked white men frolicking in the frozen puddle. Being so happy to have a bath, we did not care a bit.

6/27/2001- Urdukas - Concordia

We were walking on the glacier for 10 hours today under the strong sun. The elevation got higher - Concordia is 4410 meters over the sea level. Our progress is there for much slower and tiresome. Sona Vomackova, Josef Simunek, and Radek Jaros are in excellent condition, and so they were leading the whole way.

Passing the glacier Balton, the army presence is very noticeable. There are helicopters overhead of us, we passed 3-4 military check points. Supposedly the Pakistani army has their commands in English. What ever we ask them, they always answer only "OK".

In Concordia we encountered several glaciers and valleys and it is supposed to be the most beautiful trek in the world. In front of us we see eight-thousander Broad Peak and on the west, for first time, we see K2.

Today’s part of the road was very difficult, so we are waiting for the porters. Our chef Peter is apologizing. He thought he gave tea and soup supplies to the strongest porter. Instead we are waiting for 3 hours before the porter with these supplies arrives and Peter can only boil water and fantasize about tea and soup.

Arriving porters are not only very tired (each of them is caring 25 kg of our + their personal things ), but also angry. Even though Sirdar Sultan told them what is today’s destination, some of them wanted to stay in camp which is 3 hours back. Our liaison officer did not arrive to Concodia either. Perhaps he has problems. In any case he tried to create problems for us by long distance. He sent Sirdar Sultan to us in Concordia and ordered him to bring back the porters (the camp where he stays is 3 hours back). Sirdar Sultan listened to him, and arrived to Concordia to talk to porters. He, exhausted sat down and said to them that liaison is an “***hole” and he doesn’t care about him.

This Series of long tracks are bothering our feet - especially Josef Simunek (Simon) and Ludek Ondrej (Bouda) have destroyed foot heels. On the top of this Bouda has diarrhea.

June 28, 2001- Urdukas - Concordia

Our last trek - thank God was much shorter than the others - led a group of climbers and all ( !!! ) porters to the base camp under the second highest mountain in the world - K2. Our base camp is at an elevation of 5200 meters. Everyone is extremely happy that the first part of the expedition is behind us. The weather is beautiful and K2 is an impressive pyramid like mountain. We raised our tents including cooking and eating tent. There are already Korean, German (they are international expedition), and Spanish camps standing over our camp. The elevation is effecting everyone here. Josef Simunek is having  headaches and the reporter of expedition has swollen face. It should be noted that these issues are disappearing quite fast. Another member Petr Masek, who until now climbed only in the Alps, created his personal elevation record just by getting to the base camp. We all congratulate him. With every step, from now on, he will push his personal elevation record higher and higher. Our leader checked the mountain and decided - if the weather will last - we will get on the mountain face already on Sunday. For our festive dinner today, we had a classic Czech dish: pork meat, cabbage and dumplings.

Paying the salary to the porters.

Till four in the afternoon Sirdar Sultan was paying the salary to the porters. But before they even started, Sona and Bouda checked that all of our stuff is there. This is a very important moment, which demands to be detailed and focused. Our experiences from Nepal are telling us that a paid porter is never satisfied, and so he starts to look carefully around. Many of the things he just brought up with such an effort could be on the contrary very useful down where he is heading. So, Sona and Simon were watching the bags which were arriving on the backs of the porters. Zdenek Hruby was sitting on the top of a backpack belonging to the climbers. Zdenek Jaros was pretending to prepare place for a tent having eloquently placed a shovel in his hands. Peter Masek was sitting on the stone between camp and the path going back to the valley. He thanked them for their services and said his goodbyes to each porter with a big smile, while checking each of them for anything having “made in The Czech Republic” written on it. We felt embarrassed about this, but here on the mountain where the toilet paper, soup, or climbing gear is very important and not easily replaceable, it is less important to be polite and more important to be prudent. Expedition member Mira Caban did not have any problems with this, because he was in the tent having suffering with scorching heat.

The Festive dinner for eight exhausted Czechs under K2 was beautiful and well deserved. Bouda became our hero when he reached into the plastic barrel and pulled out 1.5 kg of smoked pork meat and pushed it in to the chef’s hands. In half an hour we were feasting and our chef came to watch us. Everything was great. We did not have a forks, so Sona asked for them. All of a sudden Peter started to say something in Urdu mixed with English and behaving very awkwardly. We had no idea what was going on. It is not good to make the chef angry right in the beginning. Everything was explained moments later. Peter understood we are asking him if he ate pork. It is not good idea to tell Allah’s believer that he ate pork.

Update: 6/30/2001 - Base Camp and Camp 1

We finished building Base Camp. So, we have a fully standing kitchen and dinning tent, chorten with a flag with the expedition logo on it and five tents for climbers made by the Hannah company. The liaison officer arrived to the base camp with one day late, which he was because of a slower trek from Urducas to Concordia. This trek was very difficult and Chalid ( that is his name ) already had enough.

Our leader Zdenek Hruby went to talk to other expedition leaders being with us under K2 ( international German team, Korean, and Spanish ) to find out what situation they are in. Koreans and Spanish are going to use Abruzzi's classic route. The international group already has camp 1 in Cesan's route on the southeast face. After discussions between members of the Czech expedition, we decided to start on Friday using Cesan's route.

Radek Jaros, Zdenek Hruby and Petr Masek got up at 4 am and right after breakfast, they left to start on the face of the mountain 2 km from BC. It takes them 6 hours on ice to reach 6000m, where there are 2 tents from the German ( international ) expedition. It took about 3 hours under very strong sun to brake off a bit of rock to prepare a small platform for the tent "Hannah Expedition". Masek is leaving for the BC at 1:15 pm and Hruby with Jaros is staying over night. On his way to the BC Masek is double checking and adjusting 100 m of fixes, which were laid on the ascent. Terrain to the camp one is a combination of 45 - 50 degree firn and light mix climbing.

Petr Masek had a light headache while he was working on the route as he told us after returning to the BC at 4pm. It could be because the sun is very strong. We recommend to the group going up tomorrow ( Vomackova, Simunek, Caban ) that they should start earlier in the morning and be persistent in their drinking regiment.

Ludek Ondrej ( Bouda ) while in BC, is healing his scratched heals. Josef Simunek also has problems with his heels, but is using oil from the tea tree and special bandages, he should be ready for tomorrow's departure. 

We have positioned our BC so well, that we can watch our three members during their all day ascent right from our dinning tent. Acclimatization of all the members went well including every day measurements of saturation of the oxygen in the member's blood. The weather on K2 is excellent - sunny without clouds and around noon we have 23 C here in BC. Jan Rydl

Update: 7/1/2001- Base Camp and Camp 1

Sona Vomackova, Josef Simunek, and Miroslav Caban had an early Sunday breakfast at 3:30 am and then they left for the face of K2. They had to bring with them to the C1 one more tent, 300 m of fixed ropes, screws, hooks, food, and two mattresses.. They also carried a tent to c1 which will not be used until C2.

During the ascent Josef Simunek ( Simon ) added the missing fixes, while Caban quickly reached C1 and started to build a platform for a second tent. It was impossible to make a platform in steep ice, he started to break down a rock protrusion.. He worked for about 4 hours with an ice-axe. We estimated that it will take another hour of hammering with a hammer before it's set. Caban wanted to stay at C1 at 6000m. Our intrepid leader Zdenek Hruby did not recommend that he stay there over night, because of the uncertain weather forecast on the radio. So all three climbers: Vomackova, Simunek, and Caban returned to the BC at 4:30 pm quite tired.

While in the BC under Qgir we had a bit of a problem with the solar recharger on our satellite phone and computer batteries. Thanks to Radek Jaros, who uncovered the problem (some messed up wires), we could connect with the world again.

A trekking group from some Pakistani university which arrived under K2 and stopped at our BC caused us displeasure. Without asking they just sat on our chairs and made sure that we could see that they were hungry. The liaison officer, whom we moved away with his tent this morning, for he was snoring terribly, transformed from an obnoxious bureaucrat into a pleasant host. He ordered our chef to make tea. In order to keep a good relationship we didn't say a word, but we did not like that a bit. If such situation should happen again we decided to protest immediately.

The weather is getting a bit difficult, with the arrival of the soft front. Summits of the Broad Peak and K2 are covered by the clouds. Sona liked it: At least it is not so hot in the tents" We could see and hear a couple of light avalanches from the BC going down on the neighboring face. Nobody in our BC or on the mountain face is in any danger.

In the afternoon Ludek Ondrej (Bouda) found out that we are missing one barrel of cooking gas. Bouda and our intrepid leader Zdenek Hruby double checked for the missing barrel, but it did not turn up. Immediately Zdenek Hruby sent an email to our service agency in Pakistan asking for the missing barrel to be transported by the porters to the BC. We hope they will arrive on time. At the same time we were sending emails back and forth about our sponsors financial agreement for the doctor who could not leave with expedition. We got the money and the doctor should arrive here, at K2 in two days. Jan Rydl

7/3/2001 - Himalaya8000 expedition equipment Qgir K2 2001

As every year we would like to introduce our expedition gear. There are a lot of things, that we bring with us to the mountains. We are happy to say that the gear is functioning well and it is good quality.

Lets start with the technical part: All messages are created and sent using the Omnibook from HP. It is a fast machine with good RAM, so we can work with digital pictures without any problems. The company Elvia-Pro lent Josef Simunek a Sony video camera. Josef is looking forward to using the chip belonging to the camera to tape the route during climbing on difficult sections between camps. We are connected to the world using a satellite telephone. Not only do we frequently call to the radio station Radiozurnal, but we can send emails, pictures and update dispatches for web sites. (Like this one that you're reading right now translated by team Garcia and West).

To keep in contact between camps we are using transmitters from our friends or companies who are supporting us. Usually we have a transmitting schedule, when a team of climbers reports to the Base camp. Just to be on the safe side, we have one transmitter on in the BC at all times.

To have all these instruments up and running we need of course a lot of energy. During sunny days we get solar energy using the Solartec solar panel. Thanks to certain connectors, we can recharge the notebook, satellite phone, and extra rechargeable batteries. In the evening or during bad weather we are using a Honda generator, which we have from BG Technik. The generator is using Natural gas. Not only do we have enough energy for recharging the mentioned transmitters, but we have light in the main tent.

To detect elevation for camps as precisely as possible, we are using "smart boxes" what we call GPS. There are a lot of things forbidden to use here in Pakistan. For example it is forbidden to use digital cameras!! To this boys [men climbers on the expedition] just answer: They do not make any others cameras than digital cameras anymore. By local law it is forbidden to use GPS and other tools. Sona Vomackova

7/4/2001 - Base Camp a HC1

All members of Himalaya8000 were stuck on Monday and Tuesday under K2 due to bad weather. Even though we knew the weather is bad, Radek, Zdenek, and Miska got up at 4 am everyday to be ready to leave if weather conditions would get better. Unfortunately there was no change. For two days there were clouds, fog and rain and snow precipitation over BC. All that time we had our gear packed, food, gas, and ready for camp 2. Our Goal is clear. Get to C1 ( 6000m ), raise a second tent, sleep over, and the next day get to 6800m and build camp 2. Based on the information from the German ( international ) group, which is on the way to the summit using the same route, there is enough space for camp 2 at 6800m. During our 2 waiting days at the BC we had two great visits. The first arrived on Monday afternoon Hans Kammerlander. He is member of the group climbing Cesana's route just like us and he is planning to ski down from K2. Before this he was on Ogre, but he had to return for bad weather from 5000m. During his visit he spent the most time with Josef Simunek (Simon). They were trying Simons video chip and exploring all of its possibilities. They were attaching the mini camera chip on their legs, shoulders, helmets and looking in to the camera window, they were figuring out which is the best position of the chip for a ski down K2 and which position to choose for a classic climbing ascent. Our second visitors were Spaniards from the same expedition. They brought with them jerky (something like Italian proscutto ), but Bouda reciprocated with smoked breasts, sausages, and Hungarian salami. Thanks to Bouda we were visibly much better at hosting. The Spaniards did not give up and invited us to visit them, where they will probably try to return our fabulous hospitality. It is Wednesday morning and even though the weather is not great, Zdenek, Radek, and Miska are leaving BC at 5:30 am. Bouda saw them around 6:30 am on the mountain face and it was quite cloudy. It was raining cats and dogs at 7 am. Most likely our team must have caught the rain. At 12 noon, during regular transmitting between camps, the boys said there is wind and snow in C1, so they did not raise a second tent. In order to do that they must brake off a piece of rock of choose a new spot and prepare it. It is not possible under these conditions. Because we had the second group, (Sona, Josef, Mira ) ready with the gear for C1 and C2, we will make the decision what to do in our regular 6 pm broadcasting. The weather in the BC is changing with every moment. Finally at 3:30 pm there is heavy rain and wind in BC. Regardless of the weather developments, Bouda is still treating his scratched heels, and will be resting for 2-3 days. He is using a miracle called Mumio from Pamir. It burns, but Bouda says it helps heal faster. Jan Rydl

7/5/2001 - Base Camp a HC1

Our first attempt to build camp 1 was not successful, but we are happy about the new weather forecast, which gives us hope to build C2 and C3. 

What does Radek Jaros have to say? We arrived to C1 on Wednesday around 11 am. It was windy and it snowed. We looked at the platform which Mira started to build. He said it will take one hour to finish it. That is nonsense. It was really bad weather, so we went to the tent. All three of us. Around 3 pm we checked our surroundings for another possibility to place the second tent. We found a place and started to break the rock. To build a wall, we had to bring rocks up from 20 meters down. We worked until 6 pm and we had it done?  Again we went to the tent. This tent is only for two, we were three. That meant we had to leave our personal things outside. My camera was completely buried under the snow twice, I hope it survived. Everything was wet in the tent anyways. Wet because we were cooking, breathing, and also it is built on platform smaller than the tent floor. We couldn't tighten the tent and so here and there we got a bit of snow inside.

Morning broadcasting is at 6 am. We were planning to go down. During 2 hours of packing we were on the contrary talking about going up and starting to build C2. Hans Kammerlander stopped at C1 and told us that he slept in C2 and it is horrible up there. Then he put his skis on and skied down. So we followed him down on foot and the last 400 meters of the fixes we went down on soft snow on our buttocks.

Hruby, Jaros, and Masek arrived to BC at 12:30 pm. The whole afternoon the second group Sona, Simon, and Mira were marking a secure route across the glacier between BC and the face of K2. Some cracks appeared that were new and in case of fog this route could become dangerous.

We just heard a very optimistic weather forecast for the next week. The weather should be so good that the group Sona, Simon, Mira is leaving tomorrow to C1 and will finish that second tent and the group Zdenek, Radek, Miska will follow them, but go 800 m higher to build C2. If the weather will last as they promised, we already talked about building C3. It is also because the acclimatization of all of the climbers is going so well. 

Today, just at lunch time some Bulgarians, fighting the neighboring Broad Peak. They had already finished C2, but it seems like there is a bit of friction on the face of the Broad Peak. Bulgarians talked about a conflict between the Chinese and Swiss. Chinese climbers during their ruthlessness ascent let down rocks and snow without considering the other expeditions below them. Jan Rydl

Update 7/8/2001 Camp 2:

Bad weather was holding us back almost a week. When it got finally better it was Sona's turn to go up:

On Friday Simon and I got up at 3:30 am. Peter was already cooking. Well, it was not necessary to cook for me, I never eat in the morning. So I had a cup of tea and we were on our way. We ( Sona, Simon, Mira) carefully marked this way on the glacier by flags yesterday, so today it was smoother for us. Just the last two flags, warning about a very large crack in the glacier, were gone. It must have been hit by a serious avalanche in the afternoon or during the night. We were crossing a couple of avalanche trails which were quite fresh. It is unpleasant, when you find yourself going around hills of snow and ice after the avalanche.

Today we carried up our tents, food, and cooking tools. I had a bit of a lighter bag, so it was easier for me. On our way to C1 we were correcting fixes, but even considering that we still managed to arrive to C1 at 11 am. We had a one hour break, drinking tea and eating cookies. At 12 noon we went to finish the platform and the mole that the other group (Zdenek, Radek, Mira) did not finish. We had some difficulties over this platform. During our first ascent to C1 Mira started to build it, but the next day our group that had to finish it started to build another one, because for some reason they did not like the spot we originally chose for it. So we finally finished the second platform in 3 hours. Simon and Mira were breaking 15 kg of rock and then were lowering them down to me on the ropes while I was building the mole. So, finally the second tent in C1 is finished.

We got in the finished tent and our timing was immaculate, because the strong wind just started. We decided to get up at four am and go to start C2. We got up in the morning. But the wind was still to strong, so we were waiting till 6 am. The wind was still blowing at 6 am, so we decided to wait and see what it was like at 8 am. During that time two French guys went to C2, but they have their tent already finished. The wind was strong and they could ascent in it, but the French do not have to build tent in this wind.

Zdenek, Radek, and Miska were coming to C1 too. They arrived at 11 am. We put our heads together and decided that Simon and I will go to the BC and the boys will wait and see if the weather will get better on Sunday.

Base camp welcomed Sona and Simon with a lot of food. In Camp 1 they had only a couple bowls of soup. What they also got here in BC is 20 liters of hot water for each. So, Sona turned the dinning tent into a shower and Simon was showering on flat stones right behind the tent. It was a sunny day.

The boys [climbers] who stayed in C1 used this beautiful windless weather too. They went to C2 (6800m). It took them 6-7 hours. They built a platform in the snow and ice and put up tent (Hannah company) with enough capacity to accommodate three people. Mira and Miskha descended to C1. Zdenek and Radek will sleep in C2. During our evening radio calls between Base camp (Simon+ Sona + Bouda), C1 (Miska + Mira), and C2 (Zdenek + Radek), we were debating about what type of tents to raise in the next camps and our food supply was low in C1. So in the evening Bouda, Simon, and Sona will prepare bags of food for everybody in camp one, which will be taken up on Monday.

The plan for Monday is: Zdenek and Radek will go to raise one tent in C3, Miska and Mira will go back to BC and Sona, Simon, and Bouda will go to C1 and maybe even C2.

Carlos Pauner from the Spanish expedition stopped by for tea on Sunday evening. The Spaniards and Koreans are climbing Abruzzi's route together. Even though they are here under K2 14 more days than us, they are not ahead of us. They finished C2 and together with the Koreans were fixing 200 meters over it. Carlos said: We are fixing and the Koreans are relaxing. They have a female climber with them, but it seems she does not feel very well.

In better shape is the International expedition climbing Cesen's route with us. Today on Sunday two of their men went to build C3 and another two men from BC went to help them. They plan to build their C4 on the mounting shoulder just like us, where Cesen's route meets Abruzzi's route. We had some exciting news. Our chef Peter told us, that several expedition chefs in Concordia butchered a cow and we will get a piece of meat too. We all loudly cheered at the idea of fresh steak with French fries. When the moment of the great lunch arrived, Peter brought French fries and some dark pieces of meat in the pot. With enthusiasm we attacked the meat, just to taste the meat from an 100 years old drought bull. We had to chew each bite for about a 30 minutes, but there was more stiffed meat on our teeth, than in our stomachs. Sona Vomackova, Jan Rydl

Update 7/10/2001 Camp 3:

Expedition Qgir - K2 build camp C3 on Cesen's route.

Team Zdenek and Radek ascend on Cesen's route on K2 to the 7200m and build C3. 

This is how Zdenek Hruby saw that long Monday: We woke up in our Hannah tent at 6 in the morning. The weather forecast was completely wrong. It was snowing, windy and we were in the clouds. Relying on the weather forecast we planned to go up and build C3 and now we did not know if we should go or not. We talked to a neighboring expedition and they did not recommend that we go up. At 7 am we finally decided to go UP !

The route to C3 is quite difficult compared to the segment between BC - C1 and it is permanently in a 50 degree incline. We were climbing for about 4 hours and we passed the leftovers of some tents. Probably from last years expeditions. There is no place to build C3 here on Cesen's route, so we built ours at 7200m. It would be more appropriate if we could build at 7400m considering the elevation between the camps, but there is not enough space according to Hans Kammerlander. He is in the face of K2 for the 3rd time this year, and I believe he knows what he is talking about. So we started to dig at 7200 m just over the tent of the international expedition. Radek chose a great elevated spot with drift from one side.

I also had a problem with frostbite. Underestimating the weather, I put on thin socks in the morning. Approaching C3 I could feel the danger of frostbite. I entered the tent belonging to the international expedition and I massaged my toes for about 15 minutes to get the blood circulating. Radek started to dig a space for the platform. First we took off the heavy old snow, then frosted a firn, and than we broke off some ice. It took us 4 hours to do this.

Even though we've done a lot of ascents, our acclimatization is going well. While we were working I felt headache coming. When I compare this with experiences during other expeditions, things are going pretty well.

Our night in C3 was quiet, but I did not sleep well. Perhaps I am still jet lagged or maybe 12 hours in a tent is just not too comfortable in any case. We were not in a rush on Tuesday morning. Visibility was about 10 meters and we had to descend. We cooked a lot of tea and checked that the tent was secured. In order to do so, we each left our axes there. Our descent started at 8:30 am. Radek was far ahead of me. I stopped at C2 to check the tent there and on my way I met Simon. He was ascending together with Sona and Bouda to C2. We were discussing what is needed at C2 and C3 and decided that we definitely need more food!

Arriving to BC at 2:15 pm, I immediately took a shower. It is time for a detailed plan on how to ascend to the mountain shoulder, build C4, and attack the summit for the first time.

I found some of the leftover tents from previous expeditions and was somewhat effected by it. It made me realize that the weather conditions up there are difficult and no material will ever last long enough. I was also concerned about falling rocks at the end of the fixes under C1. There are streams in the afternoon along side the mountain rib and they are taking down some really big rocks, so sometimes you are relying on good luck. Radek solved it on his own. When he got the opportunity he went down on his buttocks!

Zdenek and Radek are planning to relax at least 2 days in BC. Miska and Mira are going to C1 with light bags. They want to go all the way to C3 to stay over night to get acclimatized. That will happen on Thursday or Friday.

I looked around at the whole BC under Broad Peak on Monday. There were 4 camps (Swiss, Estonian, Bulgarian, and Argentinean). The Swiss expedition was packing for home after 20 unsuccessful days on the mountain. The Day before the Chinese - Pakistani expedition who was supposedly successful had left. Based on the info from the Estonian liaison officer there were 10 Chinese and 2 Pakistanis on the summit of Broad Peak. Argentineans are waiting at C3 and C4 for the right weather conditions to attack the summit. When the Estonian team was gone, only their chef remained in the BC. I found the Bulgarians having lunch at 3 pm. They built C3. It is possible to see their C1 and C2 from BC. They are counting on around attacking the summit of Broad Peak on July 14th. They asked us about the weather forecast, but at the same time they answered for themselves in that it never fits anyway. Jan Rydl

Update Himalaya 8000 expedition equipment Q.gir-K2 2001:

We already described our expedition equipment. Now it is time to talk about our personal gear. The most of the members are equipped by the Warmpeace company.

Traditionally their products are made with feathers. The sleeping bags (Explorer 1200) are offering warm comfort up to -27C. These sleeping bags are made of Gore Dryloft material, which covers a feathered layer before getting wet. This is important because icing is falling off and into the tents. The number 1200 means 1200 grams of goose feathers. Inside the material is Pertex, soft and pleasant to touch. Just super. Gortex outfits (pants and wind-breaker) are a necessary equipment of every climber.

We get to use it at the bad weather ( which is right now ). It protects us against wind, rain, and snow. You can sit in snow or hold a wet rock and you stay dry. The boys are wearing MontBlanc pants, which are specifically made for hard mountain conditions. Jackets are made of Gore-tex material, which are light and easy to store. Shoulders and elbows are supported with Taslan material. The jacket is sewn in order to climb in it. The back is elongated and the front shortened to allow ease of movement. Outside on the chest there are slanting pockets and it is easy to get into even with a backpack on. There are two more pockets inside covered with Logo and they are for walky-talkies or other sensitive equipment. The last thing to mention is the hood which gives you plenty of visibility yet also covers the right places up perfectly.

The Pants have a zipper from the bottom to the top on the sides. The zippers are covered up and there are anti - snow gaiters. These pants are sewn to allow climbers to easily go to the bathroom, which is a very important issue here! Climbers use the term "draw bridge". Teslan which is sensitive for scratches, is used all over the pants, so we feel like we are in a paper suit in these pants. The hit of this season has become these outfits made of the PowerStretch material. Guys like the pants and turtleneck with the zipper the most. It is great for moving on the mountain (we wear them as either the first or second layer of clothing). They are warm and are very pleasant to wear. You can wear them at night to the sleeping bag and wear socks or a hat made PowerStretch. They rock!

Already for the third year we are using clothing made from a material called WindStopper. It is used the most on gloves and hats but are also used on jackets and pants. The NorthCape Company takes care of climbers in regards to underwear. To move around and to trek they wear underpants from Suplex material and to climb they wear underpants from Collmax material, that perfectly absorbs sweat. They also use Rhovyl Thermaster, which woks as isolation and warms up as well. Gasherbrum jackets are "frost crusher" (using Polarfur material), which gives us comfort in the elevation camps and in BC. They make them with a collar or a hood.

The Trezeta company equipped the majority of the members trekking and climbing footwear as well. On our way to the Base Camp we put on Rocky Mountain boots, which have a sole like a mountain goat and you can not slip on the rocks. This came in handy the most when we had to walk on the glaciers. Sona used the Jorasse model which has a sole that is designed like the paw of a bear. These boots are set to be used for framed crampons. On the mountain we are functioning with FTK 8000 boot, specifically made for climbing in the snow and ice. The newest model of these boots has inner aluminum shoes, that provide extra warm comfort even in higher elevations. The Inner shoes have a pump outside that blows up air pillows around the ankles, so the foot is fixed in the boots for climbing. With one long press you can let the air out and be ready for walking in seconds.

Our back packs are from the Alpinus company. Every one of us chose what fits for him/her. The favorite are Devils Tower, that Sona likes very much (she's already in her third year using them) and of course, the classic Woodpacker backpack is made to hold between 55 and 100 liters. We also the Woodpacker backpack that holds a volume of 75 and 87 liters, that sits well on the back and has a perfectly designed frame made of Cordura.

We are using Hannah tents. During our trek and BC we use the models from the Outdoor series. We chose large spacious tents, because if you live in a tent for 2 months it is good to be able to stand up in it. On the mountains we are using tents from the Extreme series that have a great frame. In c1 we have an Expedition tent, because it is standing on a really small platform, which was very difficult for us to build. In C2 and C3 we have Mountain tents. We chose those because they also have great frames, and are large and can fit 4 people comfortably.

Lets not forget the Austrian company Komperdell, that supplies us with folding wands. This year we have the latest model called Thermogrip. The top part of the wand is a soft holder and the top 20 cm is thermally isolated, which is great in traversing on very inclined terrain.

Sona has special equipment already for the third year in a row from Alpinus Company. She was very satisfied with her equipment from last year's expedition (Kanchenjunga 2000), so she did not change anything. There are several clothing layers - from the heaviest used for trekking to frost crusher used in the highest elevation camp. She's using many different types of clothing, such as Polartec (pants with a folding overall style pocket and zippers, light Kagen jacket, technical Frenev jacket). WindStopper clothing (high pants with zippers, jacket with the hut), and of course Gore -Tex (pants with side zippers, jackets with a longer back and detachable hood). And lets not forget the accessories- hats, gloves. All these pieces Sona described in the last two Outdoor magazines.

Also Radek has his own sponsors with specific equipment. His clothing is from the Craft company supplying him with everything from underwear to top layers of warm Polartec and Windblock. Compared to last year he is happy about his second layer with Microflees. He was already twice in the elevation camp wearing only these two layers. His jacket is made from Microflees and is light colored, so in the strong sun it is not attracting heat. His Windblock jacket comprises the final layer. His accessories are also excellent like his hood, which fits under a classic helmet. He can breath through it as well. He has Vavrys socks from their most basic type to their frost crushers.

Radek uses products of Sport Schwarzkopf from Susice. They make products for hard weather conditions. Radek first met with this company during his expedition to Everest in 1998 and since then has cooperated on the development and testing of new products. In this year's expedition he has a couple of light models that he uses when he treks. In higher elevations he needs clothing lined with feathers, so Sport Schwarzkopf supplied a Protect jacket. During a descent under falling stones he really enjoyed the pants with a stronger fabric around the area of his buttocks. The fastest and the most secure descent from dangerous parts of the mountain is sliding down on our butts. It is super, that these pants lasted and he can use them again. There are sleeping bags with down from Sport Swarzkopf and Radek uses them under K2, which is a sign of the highest of quality. Sport Swarzkopf is with us even on the glacier. Boys and girls from the company gave us luminescent flags, which we use to mark the road on the glacier. Radek also uses and assortment form the company Hi-Tec (trek clothing, climbing boots, running shoes) on his expedition training and treks to the BC. This company is helping him to prepare.

7/14/2001 - C3

Everyone sits in Base Camp. Zdenek's group returned and that is the end of conquering K2 for now. Why? Why else, bad weather.

Simon, Sona, and Bouda returned from C2 on Wednesday. They planned to go to C3, but Sona had a headache, so they decided that they'd rather return. They were quite tired, but just as they arrived the celebration of the 55th birthday of the Baltistan ruler, who lives in Paris in exile was in full swing. From exile he supports schools here in north Pakistan and locals love him for that. So we gringos are invited by all liaisons, chefs, and porters to celebrate with them. They are playing on drums and other instruments while cheering us on to dance. So 2 minutes after our arrival Sona and Simon were dancing on glacier rocks in their climbing boots. 

Mira and Miska left for the mountain face on the same day, but very early in the morning. Mira stopped with supplies in C1, Miska went to C2. We had a bit of a problem with our transmission, so information about sleeping arrangements we got to know only thanks to the fact that they met with Simon on his way down.

The weather was getting worse. The weather forecast promised really bad weather, but here in BC it was not as bad. So we respected the forecasters. It was mistake.

On Thursday both climbers went to C3 at 7200 m. They connected with us and told us that they do not have headache, but it is windy and snowing at C3.

It was more dramatic on Friday morning. Bouda talked to both Mira and Miska at 6 am and they were reporting bad weather and planned to descend. They left C3 at 8 am. The visibility was about 20 m and there were 30 cm of new snow and it was still snowing in spots. They had to look for the fixed ropes and pull them out of the frozen snow, so that they would be visible. The descent went OK. They stopped in C1 made a tea and called us on the radio. They said there were avalanches around them which is how the mountain gets rid off fresh snow. They left C1 and Radek went to meet them half way from BC. It was a bit foggy and for security reasons they had to go around active avalanche spots, but even then they were all right and back at 2 pm. We were just inching along and were happy to see them.

Now we are all in the same shape (all 4 expeditions under K2). All have their C3 prepared and are sitting in BC looking every 10 minutes to the sky, asking for weather forecasts. It is difficult to plan anything on the mountain right now.

Saturday started with sunshine and Sona did a huge load of laundry, so we celebrated it by preparing our national food: dumplings, cabbage, and pork meat. Thanks to Bouda, who remembered powder dumplings and who vacuumed up the smoked pork, we had to do the cabbage just right. Sona was supervising Fido (otherwise we call him Peter) in the cooking tent. She ordered dumplings: dough like capati, but instructed him not bake it, but to boil it ! Then Sona assisted with cutting the cabbage and cut herself. So Simon helped her to put on some tea tree oil and hopefully it will be OK. Anyway, the result was delicious. We opened some beer with it. I must note that one beer was shared by two people, but the beer tasted great even that way too. After one month of not drinking in the middle of an Islamic country made its taste seem unaccustomed to us.

Whatever is going on, we care the most about the weather. Tonight - 8 pm - as I am writing this message, The Bulgarians under Broad Peak called on our satellite tel. Originally they wanted to be at the summit today, but the weather news is bad. We are all waiting. Well, at least we are all healthy and optimistic. Jan Rydl

7/16/2001 - BC

Very bad weather, and a French guy is dead.

We woke up to the cold and snowed in BC. Zdenek was turning his head on Sunday saying: "It is for the first time, that I see rain in BC, which is at 5000m." Well, with short breaks it is snowing and windy today. We cannot say a word against the weather forecasts, because now it finally fits. If it will last we have to survive a couple of more sad days, without any possibility getting on the face of K2.

Clouds are in three layers. The lowest is fog, crawling on the glacier from Concordia to the BC of Broad Peak behind Abruzzi's route. At the Second layer are snow clouds at 7000 m, washing over Broad Peak at unbelievable speed. Finally there are front strafes at 10 km.

Just before noon, arrived two nervous Bulgarians. They wanted to know the forecast, because they planned to be at the summit around the 14th. We gave them spam with mashed potatoes. At that moment we did not have the actual info, and our computer batteries were empty, so they left one of their transmitters and we let them know as soon as we could. Before they left us they called their C1, because some of their silly climbers just went there and now they are waiting there for the weather forecast. We told them to go down, but they replied maybe in the evening, because in this weather they have to go down stone after stone on the Broad Peak face. The crazy effort not to miss opportunity to get to the summit is clearly visible on the Argentineans as well. They were waiting at C2 for a change. In our opinion it is a risky effort. There are not climbers nor elevation porters on the face of K2 today. Btw only the Chinese expedition has elevation porters here.

Very unpleasant news in this depressive weather was about the death of a 20 year old trekker in the Base camp of Broad Peak. He was French and based on the info he arrived to BC in good shape. They were playing some social games in the evening, but he never woke up in the morning. Even though opinions were expressed about use of rohypnol (sleeping pill) as the cause of death or even perhaps other problems.... We still think that the most likely cause of death has to do with the elevation problem.

Doctor Lukas Svoboda arrived to our base camp yesterday. We found a sponsor for his trip after the whole expedition was already in Pakistan. He arrived during a strong snow storm and now he is organizing about 30 kg of medical supplies.

During this bad weather Simon went to talk to the international expedition to pick their brains about the possibilities that them might face and their weather experiences. Hans Kammerlander was trying K2 at the same time already last year. Based on his memory, the weather ended up being 2 days nice and 3 days bad. Such a weather schedule was alternating with iron regularity. We will see. Jan Rydl

7/18/2001 - BC

After a snowstorm that lasted for two days, we woke up Wednesday to the sun. Bad weather always affects the psychology of a climbing group, because we were pinned down for a couple of days to the sleeping or dinning tents. Bouda is the man ! Bad weather cannot get him of track.

Bouda says: I am satisfied and I don't care what the weather is right now. We have enough supplies in BC for the whole expedition. Look, nothing can surprise us. We have nuts and even a clothes peg. Just one thing, we have to watch our chef. He snatched a haunch from goat or yak. They cooked for us just ribs, which we could not chew and the whole leg they split between them. When I pointed this out, he brought back just leftovers with bones. It was stingy; they do not have a fridge here. It is fine in the end. We have our meat vacuumed.

So we were not climbing for the last two days. The break in climbing is natural anyway. People could not last anyway. Up and down climbing on the mountain without a break. In the end, I cannot remember one expedition, which would not take a break anyway.

It is really great that our doctor arrived. I do not know Lukas personally, but his presence is very important for us to feel secure. We tried the pressure sack. They had it on three expeditions already. We borrowed it from CHS, but blew it up for first time here.

As I am watching other expeditions here, some of them are getting short on time. So for example Christopher from the international expedition is pushing himself on the mountain too much. He wants to be on the summit on 7/22. Thinking about this, it is not impossible that we will be pushed by time as well. But lets not get ahead too much.

This is definitely the most difficult mountain I have ever been on. The route is really difficult, there is not enough space for elevation tents, and lastly this mountain has its own weather.

All expedition teams on K2 are making a decision this Wednesday to take advantage of the window (4 sunny days) in the weather forecast. Christopher from the international expedition stopped by this afternoon asking for our support and assurance. He is hooked on these couple of nice days and had decided to go up, talking about Sunday as the summit day.

Zdenek left for the BC of the Spanish and Korean expeditions to see what decision they have made. Everyone decided to go up. The situation is special in the Korean BC. Although they have elevation porters, they are climbing with oxygen. The Koreans build only C2 and it is visible, they are waiting for the Spaniards and everybody else. They will not hesitate to go up in someone else's footsteps.

A decision was made in the Czech dinning tent: use this good weather to finish completely all three camps, bring up the necessary equipment for C4 (used to attack the summit) to C3, and in the case of really good weather we will go to C3 and try to build C4 on mountain shoulder at 7400 m. If this will not be possible to do, we will at least create a material depository for C4 somewhere on the mountain face.

So on Thursday morning the group consisting of Zdenek, Radek, Mira, and Miska went up. One or two days later the group with Simon, Sona and Bouda will follow. The rest of the coordination will be done with walky-talkies between groups.

A group of Czech trekkers from Tabor (town in Czech Republic) stopped by the BC. They were describing how they were sitting for 3 days in Concordia, because of the bad weather. During this time the camp changed in to a human ant-nest, because no one could continue up and new trekkers were arriving. Czech trekkers are planning to stay a day on K2 and then quickly go down across Condocoro-la. Jan Rydl

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