K2: Who Will Fix The Ropes, and Who Will Use Them?

K2 Karakorum
K2, before the crowds arrive. Photo: Madison Mountaineering

The first staff members of Mirza Ali’s commercial expedition reached Base Camp today, along with Ali’s sister and K2 climber, Samina Baig.

“Hopefully, we will start the rope-fixing asap,” Ali told ExplorersWeb. His company, Karakorum Expeditions, plans to take 11 clients up K2 (and some also up Broad Peak) with a local force of 22 Pakistani climbers, supervised by UIAGM guides Jordi Tosas and Stefan Keck.

Samina Baig at Concordia today, with K2 in the background. Photo: Samina Baig

Garrett Madison told ExplorersWeb that he is also leading a team on a K2-Broad Peak double-header. But it will take some time for them to reach the mountain. Madison is still at home in the U.S., working on logistics. They plan to get to Base Camp by July 5.

Madison team climbers on K2 in 2019. Back then, they chose the Cesen route, shown, to set up Camp 2. Photo: Madison Mountaineering

“Independent” climbers

Meanwhile, another group of climbers is already in Skardu, ready to start their approach trek. Virtually all of them will need fixed ropes in order to climb.

“Some of them have asked me about this,” Jordi Tosas told ExplorersWeb last Friday. “They are listed as independent climbers but they expect the Abruzzi Route to be fixed. Otherwise, they say they wouldn’t have come at all.”

Tosas has finally reached Skardu, after enduring repeated cancellations of his flight to Islamabad. He is aware that he will be short on acclimatization by the time he reaches K2.

A group of five climbers from Belgium, led by Sophie Lenaerts and Niels Jespers, have already offered to contribute ropes and help with the fixing, says Mirza Ali. He already has plenty of rope but is open to cooperating with other teams.

Jordi Tosas: Photo: Jordi Tosas/Instagram

What would happen if some supposedly independent climbers chose simply to use the ropes put up by others?

“Speaking for myself and not for the expedition,” said Tosas, “I’d kindly explain what we are doing, but ultimately let them use the ropes anyway. I don’t think the mountain becomes the sole property of the company that fixes the route. Besides, all climbers here have hired a company for logistics, even if it’s only to Base Camp. I’m sure companies can reach agreements among them.”

Tosas is more concerned about the scant room available at the higher camps, especially at Camp 2. “K2 cannot be commercialized on the same scale as Everest,” he said. “It just can’t handle that many climbers. The crowding and lack of space at higher camps would be too dangerous.”

He adds: “I understand that more permits mean more money for a country. Still, I like how the Pakistani people are aware of the peak’s limits and want to keep a sustainable approach.”

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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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Wanna-Be
Wanna-Be
1 month ago

All the wanna-bes will be at K2 soon

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Paulo
Paulo
1 month ago

Ropes have been fixed forever on 8000 so the real news was the ones reporting alpine style ascents or new routes. Nowadays the big news seems to be the fixing of ropes on the mountains for the jumarists… Already missing the days when excess fixing was a bad thing. It will be interesting to follow the wars between jumarists to find a place to put the tents on the narrow K2 camps… Bah! Not Alpinism at all!

+1
Armchair Critic
Armchair Critic
1 month ago
Reply to  Paulo

Yep, it’s sad to see how the big news on expeditions is about “who is going to fix ropes” instead of “who’s going to be attempting something novel”.

+1
topdoc
topdoc
1 month ago

Doubt anybody will summit this season without the Sherpas.The Pakistanis just don’t have the expertise and these so called international guides are all right in the Alps but are lost in the Karakorum mountains !!

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Paulo
Paulo
1 month ago
Reply to  topdoc

For ages people are summiting K2 and the other 8000 in the area without Sherpas.

+1
DTP
DTP
1 month ago
Reply to  topdoc

Jordi Tosas was on the Spanish magic line team. Even though he didn’t summit, his experience would be sufficient.

+1
F v
F v
1 month ago

Elia Saikaly is heading to K2 with Saijid, PK Sherpa, Fazal ali, Mosin, Aziz and the cooking staff from the winter attempt to find answers. Prayers to them.

+4
Candace
Candace
26 days ago

“They are listed as independent climbers but they expect the Abruzzi Route to be fixed. Otherwise, they say they wouldn’t have come at all.” Jeebus!!!

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