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Saxon Karakorum Expedition

Chronology of getting to the summit


The alarm clock rings at 2.30 in the morning. Olaf and three Spanish climbers want to ascend to camp 3 at 7000 meters altitude. Again they have problems with a lot of snow on their path. Furthermore, they have to free several hundreds meters of fixed ropes from snow. When they reached camp 2, it was clear that their power was not sufficient anymore to ascend the last 400 meters to camp 3. Therefore, they stayed at camp 2. Olaf needs about 2 hours to dig out the tent. The remaining day, they melt snow, drink and sleep.


At 4.00 in the morning, they start again and lose their way on the southwest flank of the Gasherbrum II. Olaf has to dig steps into the ice at one point in order to get further. When they finally find the fixed ropes, they had lost so much time as the whole way from camp 2 to 3 would take under normal conditions. At Camp 3, Olaf and the Spanish friends had a surprise: Because this camp is exposed to the wind, the tents are not under snow. Again they spend their day smelting snow, drinking and sleeping. At 16.00 o'clock they have dinner because the want to start the summit at midnight.

Markus and Christian started from camp 1 to ascend to camp 2 and 3. They hoped that they can ascend fast and to catch up with the other team at camp 3. However, the path was already filled with snow and they needed to make a new track. Because their skis increase the weight they have to carry, they need almost they same time as the previous team. When they arrived at camp 2, they were too exhausted to get further. After having a rest for some hours and having radio contact with Olaf, they decide to climb to camp 3 in the cold of the night.

The hope getting forward faster on the frozen snow was in vain. Strong wind blew up the track made by the previous group. At 10 in the evening they arrived at camp 3, where Olaf and the 3 Catalans were sleeping. After sharing the narrow space within the tents, 50 minutes remained to sleep before the first group wanted to continue their way to the summit.


Olaf and the 3 Catalans started at 15 minutes after midnight. There were still 1100 meters altitude left. They get on fast in the beginning, but at the Traverse they had to track again which wasted time and power. At least, the weather is wonderful. Finally, they reach the Western edge of the pyramid of the summit. There are still 300 meters altitude left but the summit is always in sight and acts like a magnet. On August, 3rd, 15 minutes after noon, they stand on the top of the Gasherbrum II. And they have an excellent view. Most impressing, K2 (the second highest mountain on Earth), that is situated only some kilometers northeast and can only be seen from the summit. But there is strong cold wind up there, and Olaf chilled fast and has problems in handling the camera and the radio set. So they decide to descend fast bearing this deep impression in their hearts.

Markus and Christian spend the whole day in the camp for recreation. At 16.30 o'clock, Olaf returned to camp 3, exhausted and happy, and got the congratulations. After having a rest of only 15 minutes and having some tea, he proceed to camp 2. Christian and Markus wanted to start the last stage between 22.00 and 0.00 o'clock, but dark clouds on the horizon urged them to change their plans and decided to ascend immediately. The main problem was not the 3 hours shorter recreation period. The tough decision they had to make was to leave their skis behind that they transported to 7000m altitude. The surplus weight of some kilograms would retard the ascent and, therefore, risking the whole thing.


Christian and Markus summit the Gasherbrum II on August, 4th, at 4.30 in the morning. The weather changed rapidly during the ascent and on the top they had a range of sight of only 20 meters. At 9.00 o'clock, they are back to camp 3.

Via radio, Lydia, Ralf and Olaf get the message at camp 2. Lydia and Ralf have ascended on August, 2nd to camp 1, and on August, 3rd. to camp 2. This morning, they had planned to go to camp 3. But when they wake up at 3.00 in the morning, the weather got worse rapidly. At 4.00 in the morning, it started to snow and it gets worse every hour. Finally, they had to make the hard decision to stop the ascent and descend to camp 1 with Olaf. It was a very hard decision, but the only possible and right one. But with tears in their eyes.

The way to camp 1 caused no problems. However, Lydia, Ralf and Olaf get a bad surprise when arriving. The large tent for 8 persons was nearly destroyed by the shock wave of a large avalanche. They saw this avalanche last night, but now they are confronted with its results. The tents of the Kasakh expedition were blown away by 50 meters into a 50 meters deep crevasse. Thanks God, all Kasakhs were at higher camps this night. Olaf and Ralf succeed to repair the tent to that extend that it can be used again. After 2 hours work, Olaf proceed to the base camp, together with the Kasakh alpinists. Lydia and Ralf decide to stay at camp 1 hoping the bad weather would not stay very long.

Olaf arrives at the base camp on August, 4th. at 1 p.m. and is hearty welcomed by our cook and by several military officers.

Markus, Christian and Olaf - with cold feet but happy at the base camp, 8/6/01, 8 p.m.

<<< Dispatches >>>

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