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K2/Chogori Winter 2003

2/26/2003: K2 Winter Expedition It's still blowing

Difficult nights

Despite bad weather, Denis Urubko and Marcin Kaczkan reached 7630 m. They found camp IV there destroyed by the wind. The entire equipment has been blown away by the gale.

The night at camp III was cold and windy. Rumbling of the tent's walls did not allow them to sleep. They were very cold. In the morning they tried to warm themselves up using the camp burner. The wind did not stop banging against the tent. According to the weather forecast the afternoon should be better. You could see the blue sky from the base camp from time to time. Denis and Marcin decided to head out for camp IV around noon.

The head of the expedition Krzysztof Wielicki had even a worse night at camp II (6780 m). "I couldn't even shut my eyes. I struggled so that the wind would not blow me away together with the tent - he said in the morning. - Now the wind has eased up a bit. I will try to get some sleep and I'll head out for camp III. I will not make it any higher in these conditions". After spending a night in camp I, Maciej Pawlikowski and Dariusz Zaluski decided to return to base camp. They are too exhausted physically and psychologically to go on. For them the expedition is over.

We were plagued by a blizzard all day at base camp. The expected weather clearing did not come. "The squalls are so loud that I can't hear myself when I talk over the radio telephone! " - screamed Krzysztof Wielicki already from camp III to the base camp. Denis Urubko reported at 4 p.m. from where camp IV stood. The tent was destroyed. "We put it up with Piotr Morawski haphazardly. It wasn't properly fastened" - he explained. Marcin Kaczkan reached him already in darkness. He has never been that high on K2 and hasn't got acclimatized yet. Denis put up a small tent. They brought the minimum emergency equipment. They have one sleeping bag and a burner for cooking. They don't have the mattresses. They will sleep on a coil of rope.

During the evening communication session Wielicki reminded the guys from camp IV: "Take preventively some medication against frost bite which will dilate your blood vessels. They are in the first-aid kit". But the first-aid kit was also blown away. Denis and Marcin have to share one aspirin. We don't know what the temperature is at that altitude. At camp III, half a kilometer below, it was minus 36 degrees at 8 p.m.

Late in the evening we received the current weather forecast from Pakistan. It's very bad. Another cloudy front is approaching fast, the wind is to gain in force in the next few days.

Monika Rogozińska from the base under K2 (read the next couple of updates too)

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

Dispatches