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K2/Chogori Winter 2003

K2 Winter expedition Second camp destroyed

One meter away from the precipice

The last 24 hours have been dramatic both for the ones fighting on the slopes of K2 and for those being the powerless witnesses of the events. Hurricane winds have destroyed the makeshift camp II.

The alpinists escaped from the icy hell with great difficulty. Dariusz Załuski and Maciej Pawlikowski reached camp II (6600 m) only at their second attempt. They gave up at their first attempt due to deteriorating weather conditions. They returned to camp I (5950 m). The next day, they reached the tent of camp II, established temporarily on the ridge, on a mound of icy stones. They were to establish a second tent on the platform arduously cut in ice by their predecessors - Piotr Morawski and Marcin Kaczkan.

“The evening was even fairly pleasant, considering our location” - said Załuski. “I took a sleeping pill to get some rest. I was so warm that I even took the down suit off when I lay down in my sleeping bag. I woke up after midnight. The wind was getting stronger. Maciek was sitting there already in his suit. After a while, we had our boots and climbing harnesses on, ready for escape which, however, was impossible for the time being. We would have been swept away. We tied ourselves with ropes to the ground. We expected to stay strapped to the ridge, even if the wind swept away the tent. As a matter of fact, that wouldn’t give us a great chance to survive the night, in the frost, without shelter. We dug our heels in, trying to hold the tent in place with our backs. At one point, two poles came off the tent from the outside and flew off into the distance. The precipice was one meter away. We survived like that until dawn. When it got light, we began the evacuation. Without the fixed ropes, we would have flown away. The descent was difficult. I was most afraid on the ice field above camp I, since we were descending under the hail of avalanches consisting of icy lumps and stones that were hitting us with great intensity. Maciek was hit in the head. He was a bit dazed for a while. Luckily, he only has a small bump. The wintry K2 has shown its claws.”

Written by Monika Rogozinska, "Rzeczpospolita"; translated by "Scrivanek".