Current Pakistan Time
Dispatch Preparing for the
first summit bids
On an expedition by basque
standards you are more likely to gain weight than to lose weight, they have
been filling us up with bacon strips and cheddar cheese, washed down with
capuccinos and latte. Our Pakistani cook has been watching on bemused, and a
little taken aback by our lack of enthusiasm for the nightly chapatti and soup
The big news today was the
arrival of a large Korean expedition, including a Korean climber whom will
complete the grand slam of all 14 8000m peaks with a successful ascent of
Broad Peak. They have enough sherpas and rope, and have made the agreement
to, fix the upper half of the mountain above camp 2. We have been successful
in stretching several hundred metres of line through the steepest sections up
to camp 2, and are now comfortable with the route we have laid through. It
will be a welcome relief to hand over the onerous task. Mike and I spent
yesterday digging out and re-aligning an extra 200 metres of rope up to the
buttress below C2, gaining a considerable amount of appreciation for the
efforts of Taqui Mohammed, our Pakistani high altitude porter (HAP).
We finished this task after
7pm, with numb hands and tired legs. For the first time in 4 days we are all
sitting together back at basecamp, with the welcome return of Jon McBirinie
and Walt Koller from camp 1. In the past few days all members have broached
6300m, having spent at least 2 nights at Camp 1 or 2. We have also managed to
get 200m of line in above camp2, covering an area of steep and slippery ice,
which was causing us some concern, and are now happy and satisfied our work,
at least for this area right above c2, has been done.
We are all feeling well, but
tired from the recent efforts, but nowhere near lethargic (yet), and are
acclimatized to 6300m, and getting ready to sleep higher on our next push.
Patxi, Julen, and Alex, will
make the first push up tomorrow as they head for camp 2 fully acclimatized and
set for a major effort. On the 3rd they will head up to c3 and place a
campsite at just over 7000m and on the 4th of July (take note Americanís) they
are going to make a summit bid. They are hoping that by the 6th they will be
back in basecamp celebrating, or resting and preparing for another summit bid.
If they pull this off, it will be quite an effort. Swift, lightweight, and
with a minimum of fuss. It is remarkable in that we only landed in Islamabad
just over 3 weeks ago.
We are going a little slower,
which is more a reflection of our group experience, and the fact this is an
organized commercial climb, as well as our need to be assured of complete
The second wave will include
Australian Malte Hagge, Belgium Fred Muylaert, and Taqui, with Mike Hale,
Walter Koller and John McBirnie and myself on the following day.
Not-withstanding storms, bacterial infections, unexpected evacuations or the
like, we hope to be up and down by the 8th.
If you donít hear anything
from us for the next 4 days, it means its crunch time and we are going for it,
although we will try to get our BC manager to send an update within 56 hours
if BC is devoid of climbers. We are using handheld radios which are
lightweight and really only effective in relay between camps.
Mike has planned in advance
for a celebratory drink, and has ordered for a runner to bring 2 cases of beer
up to BC from Skardu, along with some extra food stuffs we are getting low on
and that may be needed if we need to dig down on the hill.
One thing is for sure, the
last few days have shown the significant, indeed, enormous effort, that is
required to climb an 8000m hill. While we seemed to have had it easy in the
first few days going up and down, our bodies are now paying for that early
effort. It seems if we started out on a full tank of gas, we are now running
low and in need of a top up. Our challenge is to keep enough in reserve to get
up and down, in the shortest time possible. Despite all the readings,
research, and everything else, most of us are a little surprised with the
consistency of angle of the slopes up to C3. It is steep, and in places very
slippery and broken. A slip in any of many places would lead to dire
consequences without a rapidly engaged self arrest.
We are doing nicely as a
group and thoroughly enjoying each others company, the one thing that is
missing is the warm touch and embrace of our family and friends.
Wish us well, and cast your
love, thoughts and support across the oceans and over the great mountains,
here we goÖ.
Deputy expedition Manager
Photo copyright Dave Hancock
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