K2: “They Believe that with Money They can do Everything”

Among seracs above Camp 3 on K2. The Great Serac and the summit loom above. Photo: Elia Saikaly

The recent events on Broad Peak have impacted those at K2 Base Camp, especially when Fahad Badar of Qatar frostbit his fingers, as Anastasia Runova had.

“During the day there were various discussions about mishandling and lack of organization,” wrote Fotis Theocharis. “If something similar to Broad Peak happens [here], tragedy will be certain.”

Fahad Badar receives treatment on his frostbitten fingers in Base Camp. Photo: Fotis Theocharis

“It makes a special impression on me that there are people whose first mountain was simply Mount Everest and came to ‘conquer’ K2,” the Greek climber added. He noted the lack of previous experience and absence of technical climbing skills among some people in BC.

“They believe that with money they can do everything safely, but Broad Peak is proof that this is not true. Stress is evident on all of us… Something is not right for me in the whole organization,” Theocharis said, without detailing exactly what is wrong.

A few days more

Meanwhile, it’s still stormy at K2 Base Camp today, but forecasts show an imminent change for the better. According to Garrett Madison, the storm seems to be passing, but it’s still quite windy at altitude. He expects to launch his team’s summit push next week.

Pioneer Adventure’s Sherpa teams have fixed the route to Camp 4. But the mountain has received a fresh load of snow, and they will have to assess the conditions carefully, especially above Camp 3.

West Ridge team ready

The West Ridge team of Ian Welsted and Graham Zimmerman is also prepared to go once the weather clears. They faced difficulties on their latest venture up the ridge, when they went off-route onto dangerous terrain.

K2’s West Ridge. Photo: Graham Zimmerman

“Progress on the West Ridge has been moving in fits and starts,” Zimmerman admits. “Route finding on the bottom of the route has been more complex than expected, and the early spring snow has caused problems.”

However, the climbers have had time to check the route thoroughly from Base Camp. They hope that the summer heat will allow the snow to sluff off the mostly rocky West Ridge.

“A weather window is on its way at the end of the week and we’ll be back at it,” said Zimmerman.

The Search

Before the onset of bad weather, Elia Saikaly, Pasang Kaji Sherpa, and Sajid Sadpara pushed as high as possible, in their quest to find out what happened to the three missing winter climbers. Following the trail broken by the Sherpa teams, the three searchers reached 7,800m.

“We had hoped to make it a bit higher, but a technical impasse blocked us,” Saikaly wrote.

From 7,800m, on the windless day, they were at least able to fly their drones beneath the Bottleneck up to 8,300m. They looked for clues and reconnoitered the route ahead. “No traces thus far [of the missing climbers],” reported Saikaly.

Saikaly, who is filming a documentary about last winter’s dramatic events on K2, has spent much of his storm-bound time in Base Camp grappling with the poor internet connection. Problems have beset the satellite tower erected recently on the Concordia Glacier, and it seems that most climbers have had to return to their slow satellite devices. “The last image I posted took me four hours to upload,” wrote Saikaly.

Sajid Sadpara on K2. Photo: Elia Saikaly

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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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Frederick
Frederick
2 months ago

I know climbers and adventurers need a desire to achieve but after reading of the Broad Peak rescues. What surprises me is that climbers described as low on technical ability and carrying injuries are taking on mountains with reputations so well documented. Do they care about their own lives and those of mountaineers who abandon their own climbs or return to mountains to save them?

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TangoMikePapa
TangoMikePapa
2 months ago

Please properly credit Elia Saikaly’s partner, Pasang Kaji Sherpa, not Pemba Kaji.

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Jerry Kobalenko
Admin
2 months ago
Reply to  TangoMikePapa

Corrected.

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Matthew Rind
Matthew Rind
2 months ago

so sad yr internet connections are so slow in remote Mountains. They’re much better in major urban areas. i had to go 3 days once w/o a connection. scary. I had to live off the land. The locals helped me.

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Tara
Tara
2 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Rind

🙂 It’s about business up there

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Matthew Rind
Matthew Rind
2 months ago

does anyone remember or recognize there were always climbers / mountaineers that did their thing, up there, in their own way, smiling,
with no need, to “publish” their ‘route’
it still happens & always will…

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Marie
Marie
2 months ago

Carlos Garranzo has decided to quit climbing 8,000ers for good. He says (according to my Google translation) that the mountain (K2) is screaming at him not to climb him this year, that he does not know why (i. e., what for) he should do it anyway, and that younger climbers nowadays want to do everything so fast instead of relishing in the way to the mountain and in the climb itself. Mr Garranzo was a close friend of Sergi Mingote. You can read his latest blog entry here: https://carlosgarranzobp.blogspot.com/2021/07/22-de-julio-empieza-una-nueva-etapa.html?m=1

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Marie
Marie
2 months ago

On Vitaly Lazo’s Instagram account (latest 2 posts in 2 parts) he gives a flaming, heart-wrenching report on Mr Kim’s rescue mission in which he accuses the “tourists” of not reporting Mr Kim’s plight all night long, thereby contributing to or even causing the tragic turn of events. I think it’s a must-read for every climber. https://www.instagram.com/p/CRrlUvCqkY2/

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Marie
Marie
2 months ago
Reply to  Marie

Part of the text in English below

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8610D5EA-B1E1-4EFA-A1B5-675D23B996A8.jpeg
Michael A.
Michael A.
2 months ago

What probably happened to Sajid sadpara, john story n other climber on k2

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