K2 Expedition 2010 - Status report

Gerlinde and her climbing partners have had a long and exhausting day. The seven of them arrived at K2’s shoulder at 8,000m this afternoon. The conditions are surprisingly good up there. They hardly had to break trail and the wind is moderate. Our friend and meteorologist Charly Gabl from Innsbruck has also forecast good weather for tomorrow: the first part of the night is supposed to be cloudy, and at the moment, at 6.45pm Pakistan time, there is a huge cloud cover building up above the summit of K2. However, it is supposed to clear later in the night and tomorrow is forecast to be a fine day with moderate winds and a pleasant -15° C. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it will work out this time – Gerlinde really deserves it.

Shortly after we had reached Camp III (7,200m) in good weather yesterday, we were immediately faced with K2’s imminent dangers. There had already been a lot of rock fall during our ascent, but fortunately without any nasty consequences. But once at Camp III, the warm temperatures were giving us grief. In the tent above us – the tents are pitched on platforms on a 45° slope at Camp III – Fabrizio and Kinga had already reported that a huge rock had fallen down. A little bit later, we heard the scary rumble and a rock, as big as a child’s head, hit the tent of the two Poles, Tamara and Darek, directly underneath us. The rock went straight through the outer and inner wall of their tent and through the carrier mat. Fortunately, nobody got hurt but despite being in a tent, Gerlinde and I decided to wear our helmets and carried on melting water. For about two hours, Gerlinde was even wearing her helmet to sleep.

The rock fall continued during the ascent to the shoulder. It may have been that we had been kicking off big rocks, which are normally stuck to the mountain by permafrost, during our climb through the steep and very crumbly rocky territory; or it may have been that due to the high temperatures, the rocks had just come off by themselves. When I slightly touched a rock with my crampons and triggered it to fall at about 7,500m, the climb had become a bit too exciting for me and I decided to finish the adventure ‘K2 2010’. As I had never ever been in such high danger of triggering rockfall, which could injure another climber or myself, I decided that the time had come for me to turn back. I guess, once you have already reached the summit, the dangers and risks become more imminent. In the afternoon – almost at the same time when Gerlinde reached the shoulder at about 8,000m – I was back at base camp, from where I will try and keep you posted about Gerlinde’s climb.

At 6.30pm I was able to talk to Gerlinde and she seemed to be fine. Apart from the two Americans Fabrizio and Tray, Kinga, Tamara and Tarek from Poland and Frederik from Sweden are camped in the tents next to her. A Russian and another Pole had also set up camp at the shoulder. Tonight at 1am they want to start their summit attempt. Even though we had been expecting other climbers from the Abruzzi Spur to reach the shoulder, nobody had arrived from that side. I guess they must have had a rest day at Camp III. Gerlinde said there seemed to be a lot of blank ice around the bottleneck, which made her hope that she would not have to break trail as much as last year.

Well, that’s it for today from K2 base camp. I will be in touch again tomorrow and I hope that I will be able to give you some positive news.

Warm Regards

Ralf Dujmovits