K2 Expedition 2010 - Info accident occurrence

After having consulted the father of our friend Frederik and having spoken to Gerlinde on the radio, I would like to give you the following account of the accident, which happened during the attempt to reach the summit of K2.

Last night at 1.30am, Fredrik, his friend Trey and Gerlinde left Camp IV on the shoulder of K2. As the weather had been pretty bad since 11pm, the other six climbers decided not to go for the summit and stayed in their tents. They decided to stay behind due to the strong winds and poor visibility. However, as Charly Gabl from Innsbruck had told us that the weather would improve during the night, Gerlinde, Fredrik and Trey stuck with their decision to push for the summit. When at 7am they had reached the bottleneck, Gerlinde told me over the radio that only Fredrik and herself were continuing towards the summit in poor visibility and extremely cold winds. Trey had turned back. An hour later, at about 8.10am, I received another call from Gerlinde and she sounded shocked. She told me that Fredrik had taken a fall and flew past her. She said she was on her way down to look for him. Shortly afterwards she called me again saying that the only thing she could find was one of Fredrik’s skis he had carried. It seemed as if Fredrik had fallen towards the flank on the right side of the ascent route. Due to the poor visibility it was almost impossible to see more. During further conversations, Gerlinde told me that Fredrik had been leading without a rope, and that it was very likely that he had tried to put in an anchor on a rock on the side of the bottleneck, slipped and was unable to hold his fall.

Gerlinde continued to descend very slowly in poor visibility and at about 9am she met Darek Zaluski and Fabrizio Zangrilli, who had gone up to meet her. At this point I would like to thank those two for climbing up to meet Gerlinde despite the bad conditions. Shortly afterwards all three of them were back at Camp IV on the shoulder.

In the meantime, the Russian Yura Ermachek had descended from the shoulder towards Camp III, which enabled him to have a closer look at the 800m high flank next to the ascent route. At about 400m above Camp III (7,200m) he could actually see Frederiks body and probably his rucksack. Yura, who is very experienced, continued to descend, however, he noticed that traversing towards the huge flank would hold extreme risks, such as avalanches and icefall. When he talked to Fredrik’s father at about 4pm Pakistani time, the father said that he did not want anyone to take any risks and that it would be the best to leave Fredrik where he was – with a view of his favourite mountains like Chogolisa and Laila Peak.

Gerlinde has just rung me (about 6.15pm) from Camp II. Rockfall, a snapped rope and belays that had come out had made the descent more difficult. She was going to wait for the night’s cold to set in and then continue down to base camp.

Now, the only thing left for us to do is say goodbye to an amazing person. Fredrik Ericsson was not only one of the strongest climbers here at base camp, he was also one of the most popular climbers. Like nobody else, he was always in a good mood, showed a lot of optimism and had infected us with his love for the mountains and extreme skiing.

Dear Fredrik, you were a fine person and we will all remember you very fondly. We are sending our condolence to your parents, your relatives and your friends.

Ralf Dujmovits from K2 Base Camp