More on Colin O’Brady and the K2 Rumor Mill

K2 Winter 8000ers
Airport meet: From left,, Sergi Mingote, Mattia Comte, Juan Pablo Mohr, and Carlos Garranzo. Photo: Sergi Mingote

The game of secrecy, the calculated dissemination of teasers, work very well with upcoming Netflix series, but not so when preparing for a winter K2 expedition.

The interest created around the ever-growing number of climbers heading for winter K2, the lack of a complete list of members under each expedition permit, and the incomplete information posted by some participants on social media has caused a surge of rumors. It’s not until the news is out that the climbers or their entourages set the record straight.

The Brownlees, daughter and father, atop the Matterhorn last year. Photo: Survivalofthesummits.com

Adriana Brownlee, 19, of the UK caused a stir when she revealed her intention to go to Winter K2. Yesterday, her father, Tony Brownlee, clarified to ExplorersWeb that his daughter will not try for the summit. If conditions are right, she will simply go to an intermediate camp. The idea is to learn from the extreme conditions in order to prepare for a (surely not so cold) Everest in spring 2021.

“She has been climbing since the age of nine and has slowly built up her resumé of experience of climbing, altitude, and endurance,” Mr. Brownlee wrote. “She has performed beyond expectations and always acts responsibly and with maturity. She will learn and grow as a mountaineer tremendously on this expedition without putting herself or others at risk.”

Colin O’Brady with SST, not Purja

A second correction concerns Colin O’Brady. According to his wife, Jenna Besaw, he is going to K2 under the Seven Summit Treks permit, not as a client of Nirmal Purja, with whom she says there is no connection.

“Colin has never spoken or met Nims and is not being guided,” she tweeted, although it remains unclear what “not guided” means for an explorer who has been criticized for playing with definitions. O’Brady will climb with long-time partner Jon Kedrowski.

Alex Gavan on the summit of his latest 8,000er, Gasherbrum II, in 2019. Photo: Alex Gavan

More climbers for K2

Neither Purja nor his company, Elite Himalayan Guides, has published a list of clients for K2, although some of them have leaked news of their plans. Irina Galay, who in 2016 became the first Ukrainian woman to summit Everest, is reportedly on the list.

Meanwhile, new Winter K2 aspirants pop up seemingly by the hour. Some, like Slovenian Tomaz Rotar and Romanian Alex Gavan, prefer to show their hands only once they’ve arrived in Pakistan. Rotar attempted Winter K2 last winter on a Mingma G-guided climb. Like John Snorri, Rotar spared no criticism for how he felt the expedition was run. He was cited as a member of the SST group from the very first, but then had his name deleted from the list. Now he is back again, publicly.

Gavan, meanwhile, seemed to have no intention of leaving home this winter. He has never been in a winter expedition before, but he has already summited seven 8,000’ers, all without O2 or Sherpa support. With over 10 years of Himalayan experience, he will rank among the strongest climbers there.

Meanwhile, Snorri and the Sadparas are still in Base Camp despite beautiful weather. “It is sunny, -11 Celsius, and it feels like a heatwave,” Snorri admitted on Instagram. “But the weather is still harsh on the mountain, so we are waiting.”

John Snorri is getting K2 BC ready for Christmas. Photo: John Snorri

About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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2 Comments on "More on Colin O’Brady and the K2 Rumor Mill"

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Steve Jones
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K2 is a high-risk mountain to go to in order ‘to gain experience’ because of the significant rock fall hazard, which is made worse by large numbers. David Hamilton explains this really clearly on this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7puotGrIA0Q from 38 minutes in.

Ryan
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O’Brady’s critics are irrational. If you don’t like him, fine, no one really cares. But if your issue with him is over the word “unassisted” and him wanting walking across Antarctica to be classified differently than having two kites drag you across the continent, then grow up. He also gave Ousland the credit that he deserved. It’s not O’Brady’s fault that the NatGeo writer doesn’t know how to do his job properly.