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The Mountain Madness K2 2002 Expedition!

Dispatch #11: Then there was five....

The Spanish climber Luis Fraga's line of porters passed by our tent this morning under cloudy and snowy skies. The Spanish team was the last of four expeditions to leave K2 base camp in the last few days. The Tibetans, the two Spanish and Henry Todd's International teams have trekked out to Askole in the last 4 days and have made K2 base camp similar to a ghost town. It has snowed for 5 days straight. Doubts of a summit attempt have started to enter our minds. The Japanese, Spanish-Mexican and Charlie and I are the last to reside at base camp. The Japanese team is finished on K2 and will be leaving on the 4th or 5th to attempt Gasherbrum II. Then there will be only five climbers here at base camp to climb K2: Three members in the Spanish-Mexican team and Charlie and Christine.

One of the Pakistan rules of climbing in the K2 area is all expeditions must have an Liaison Officer present with the team. A Liaison Officer is an officer within the Pakistan military that stays with the expedition and sees that the expedition is abiding by the climbing rules and he acts as a correspondent to the Ministry of Tourism if a request needs to be made from the expedition. We are on the International permit. When our leader left, they signed us off to the Japanese Liaison Officer. Now the Japanese want to leave as early as the 4th or 5th. According to the rules we are required to leave with the Japanese LO. We are trying to work out an option to stay longer, but it's hard to justify the fight when the weather is so miserable. We may try to push our stay for a few days longer to enable us for one more summit push. However we would need the weather to change in the next couple days.

Overall there hasn't been much progress on K2 this season, except for the Tibetan team. They arrived at base camp late May. It wasn't until July 20th when they got as high as 8400 meters (above the bottleneck) under marginal conditions. The Tibetans reported that on their descent they took 7 hours in white out conditions to locate their high camp. The Japanese expedition spent this past week at camp 2 (6900 meters) on the Abruzzi ridge route waiting for clear skies for an attempt at the summit. They gave up and are coming down.

The snow continues to fall and load the slopes higher on the mountain with deep snow. Above 6500 meters the snow has been reported as unconsolidated, "sugary, and knee to waist deep. It may take several days of sunny weather for the slopes to become stable enough for safe travel. One weather forecast we received predicts drier conditions after August 3rd, which gives us some hope.

In the meantime we keep ourselves busy by reading, short hikes around base camp and socializing with our few neighbors who remain. We will keep everyone posted if the weather changes. Christine

Dispatches

Background on Christine Boskoff and Charlie Fowler Expedition

Christine Boskoff and Charlie Fowler's Dispatch Index