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K2/Chogori Winter 2003
K2 Winter Expedition       Camp III within grasp

Better weather ahead

The mountaineers have crossed the altitude of 7000 m on the Northern Pillar. Denis Urubko from Kazakhstan has worked for the first time in the new team, together with Piotr Morawski and Marcin Kaczkan. His climbing partners say that he is not only a wonderful and experienced alpinist, but also a superb companion up the mountains.

- Marcin, Denis and I headed for Camp II – said Piotr Morawski after returning to base. – Denis is very fast. He left us behind at the rocky barrier and when we reached Camp II, he had already been waiting for us an hour. We even got reprimanded for idling around. We emptied our rucksacks at Platform I cut the last time together with Marcin. We went down to the tent that had been destroyed by the wind. We loaded its contents into our rucksacks and carried everything onto the platform, where we pitched our new tent. The wind was blowing strong. At one moment, I realized that the sack containing my personal belongings had blown away. The night passed rather calmly. In the morning, we set out with Marcin to establish fixed ropes above Camp II. It was snowing and foggy. Typical ‘Tatra’ Mountain weather. I was struggling valiantly with my goggles. They kept on freezing up and I had an icy, opaque pane in front of my eyes. Meanwhile, Denis was reinforcing the camp. He also brought more rope and examined the destroyed tents that had been left by previous expeditions and were now melted into the ice, thanks to which, I ate a three-year-old ‘Snickers’ bar and washed it down with some equally ancient coffee! Together with Marcin, we established 300 m of rope at 7025 m. We used up all the ropes we had. All in all, there are now 450 m of fixed ropes established above Camp II (6780 m). We were done with the icy slopes..... just for a while. We climbed the rocky pillar, where we found many ruined ropes. For the time being, the terrain is easy. We know, however, that it will rear up again later on. In the evening, Denis got very concerned with the condition of my toes. Dark spots appeared on them – frostbite! He asked me not to take any risks and to return, explaining that the work we were to do the next day could be done by him and Marcin alone. He thought that my staying one more night at Camp II might lead to chilblains that would prove even more serious. I agreed ..... even though I felt fine. I descended to base without any problems. I’m taking medicine, waiting to be able to set out to the mountains again, hopefully as part of the same team. We had a great time with Denis – says Piotr Morawski.

On Saturday, Jacek Teler and Michał Zieliński, at Denis’ request, carried several hundred meters of rope above Camp I, as high as they could get. They covered about one fifth of the distance to Camp II. Urubko met them halfway, picked up a certain amount of rope and returned to Camp II in order to establish the next 200 m of ropes on the pillar together with Marcin Kaczkan on Sunday. This time, they worked in a hurricane. After performing the scheduled task, they descended to the base in the evening very tired, but in surprisingly good shape.

Their back-up is already at Camp II: Krzysztof Wielicki, Head of the Expedition, and Jacek Berbeka. On Monday, the rising generation of mountaineers consisting of Jacek Jawień, Bartek Duda and the already experienced Jurek Natkański is to bring them more ropes. As you can see, traffic on the slope is busy, despite the bad weather. On Sunday evening, the wind calmed down. K2 has finally appeared from behind the mist and the clouds.

My computer has finally received good news from Muhammat Hanif, our weather wizard in Pakistan, whose forecasts have become almost indispensable. For the next four days, we are finally supposed to be having good weather. “Go ahead!” – says Hanif. – “Good luck!”. We’ll need it. Camp III is almost within our grasp.

MONIKA ROGOZIŃSKA FROM THE BASE UNDER K2

Note Update below...

Krzysztof Wielicki and Jacek Berbeka have set up camp 3 at  (7200 meters). The climbers are moving up !

Full dispatches soon !

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

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