Pakistan: Uncertain Flights, Secret Plans, and Stomach Bugs

8000ers K2 Karakorum
Don Bowie at the belay, while Lotta Hiintsa follows, on the lower slopes of Broad Peak. Photo: Lotte Hintsa's Instagram

For the increasing number of climbers aiming to double Broad Peak and K2 this summer, the hurdles begin before the climb. They must obtain a visa, nab one of the few plane tickets into Pakistan, complete their vaccinations, then get a fresh PCR test to be sure. Those who have completed this process hope to fly this week — hope, we said.

“My flight has been canceled for a second time,” says Spain’s Carlos Garranzo. “I am [supposed to] leave on June 17, but I will believe it when I step on Pakistani soil. Several other climbers I know are experiencing similar difficulties.”

Garranzo went to K2 last winter but gave up because of health problems. After he left, his friend Sergi Mingote suffered a fatal accident. Now, Garranzo will erect a plaque to Mingote at the Gilkey Memorial, which honors those who died on K2. He will then climb with a high-altitude porter and “try to find some evidence of what happened to Ali Sadpara, John Snorri, and Juan Pablo Mohr,” he said in a recent interview.

Fotis Theocharis of Greece, who is aiming for Broad Peak and K2, contacted ExWeb today from Qatar, in between flights. “Hopefully, I’ll reach Islamabad tonight,” he said. You can follow his climbs through his tracker. Theocharis is a member of Mirza Ali’s commercial team.

Fotis Theocharis, on the way to Broad Peak and K2. Photo: Fotis Theocharis

It will be interesting to check how Ali’s Karakorum Expeditions’ team coordinates with those independent climbers who have hired logistics only until Base Camp. They may have BC crew, O2, and high altitude helpers, but it is unclear how willingly everyone will share the fixed ropes.

C1 and back on Broad Peak

As far as we know, no one has reached K2 Base Camp yet. Don Bowie and Lotta Hintsa are the only ones on Broad Peak.

“I started off the expedition with a four-day intestinal infection with the second-highest fever of my life,” Hintsa wrote. “Not a treat on the Baltoro Glacier.”

After her antibiotics kicked in, the pair brought supplies to Camp 1 and spent two nights there. They are currently resting in BC, waiting for the weather to improve.

An Andalusian team should reach the base of Nanga Parbat this weekend.

Meanwhile, contradictory reports centre around the French team currently in the Batura area. Helias Millerioux contacted ExWeb to say that the team is not intending to climb Shispare, contrary to a now-deleted Facebook post by one of Millerioux’s friends.

“We were just trekking around,” Millerioux insists.

On a second FB account under his name, Millerioux notes that the climbers are acclimatizing and the expedition’s tracker placed them near Shispare on June 11, the last day it was on. ExplorersWeb has asked Millerioux to clarify the team’s climbing plans. No word back yet.

Dujmovits and Hansen’s Base Camp tent, with Laila Peak behind. Photo: @RalfDujmovits

Ralf Dujmovits and Nancy Hansen established their Base Camp three days ago in one of the most spectacular spots in the Karakorum. Their tent looks onto Leila Peak, with views of Masherbrum, Chogolisa, and of course, their targeted peak, Biarchedi I.

“To say we are fortunate is an understatement,” Dujmovits wrote.

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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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Don Paul
Don Paul
1 month ago

Sajid Sadpara said he wanted to look for the missing team, but maybe changed his mind.

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