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K2/Chogori Winter 2003

Dispatch 2/25/2003: A Winter K2 Expedition - storming the summit

It's this Wednesday or never

The mountaineers are climbing higher and higher amidst the blizzard. Weather permitting, especially the wind, they will attempt to reach the K2 summit on Wednesday.

Denis Urubko and Marcin Kaczkan, amidst high wind and blizzard, reached camp III this Monday (7150 m). The Russian tent weathered the storm without much harm. But it was full of snow. Urubko, calm and good-natured as he is, was in a fury when saying on the radio phone what he thought of the colleagues leaving the tent door open. Instead of cooking, getting warm or having a rest, he had to bring the tent back to order. It's extremely cold, reported Denis who's not in the habit of complaining. Marcin Kaczkan joined him an hour and a half later. They are planning to climb up to camp IV (7630m) on the next day.

The expedition chief, Krzysztof Wielicki, is one day behind them and has reached camp II (6780m). On Tuesday he plans to cut the distance and, leaving out camp III, to meet his colleagues in camp IV. According to the weather forecast, fair conditions are expected on Wednesday, but unfortunately it'll be windy. More clouds and strong wind are expected on Thursday. If that forecast is right, Wednesday will be the only day to attempt reaching the summit. It's not so much the cloudless sky that matters, but rather the strength of the wind.

Up to camp IV, the climbers use fixed ropes. On the last kilometer, they no longer have this protection. In the summer of 1995, the wind blew off the wall six climbers descending the North Ridge (on the Pakistan side). Krzysztof Wielicki and Denis Urubko seem to have enough experience to judge their chances and take the right decisions.

- It's make or break, that's how the expedition's doctor, Roman Mazik, commented on the strategy to storm the summit.

Monika Rogozińska from the base under K2

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

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