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K2/Chogori Winter 2003

Zero visibility

The wind is blowing, stirring up snow and ice particles. K2 has disappeared in the clouds. Marcin Kaczkan and Piotr Morawski have been trying to find and prepare a spot for the tents of camp II at 6600 m for two days already.

They have been cutting a platform in the ice with their alpenstocks for the tent. - The tent thatís been established right now is very uncomfortable - says Morawski through the radiotelephone. - Itís one half stands on rocks, and the other hangs over the icy precipice. We keep our things in this part. Both above and below, the alpinists have found traces of camps left by former expeditions. Dilapidated tents, melted into the ice, are located on very steep slopes, rendering the spots unusable.

Denis Urubko, Wasilij Piwcow and Ilias Tukwatullin, who had reached 6600 m and established a tent on the ridge of K2ís Northern Pillar, have spent a difficult night in it. Denis and Wasilij have not taken along their down trousers. Only Ilias had a down suit. They have put their legs and arms into the only sleeping bag they have taken along, seeking shelter from frostbite.

One can only speculate about the conditions on the slope. The wind tears at the tents so strongly that after leaving mine for a second, I found the computer equipment and the satellite phone swept off the table and scattered on the ground when coming back. The only benefit from that is the clean energy. Bogdan Jankowski, the radio and electronic engineer, has installed a fan generating electricity and charging the batteries.

We have a weather forecast at last. We owe that kind of disinterested help to our friends from Pakistan. Thanks to the alpinist Nazir Sabir, who has already reached the K2 summit marking a new route with a Japanese, as well as Muhammad Hanif, a senior Pakistani meteorologist, we began receiving weather announcements. This gesture has made a deep impression on us not only because it was accompanied by best wishes of success, but also because all the attempts at cooperating with western weather services have failed so far due to exorbitant prices or other forms of repaying debts that have been incurred in such a way. The next forecasts are not very good. It is common knowledge that with a temperature of minus 20 deg. C at the base, there are minus 50 degrees at the summit of K2.

Nevertheless, nobody thinks of retreating. The struggle for conquering the mountain continues.

Monika Rogozińska from the base under K2.

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