Bad Weather Stalls Early Progress on K2

The weather is bad in Pakistan’s Karakoram, delaying early progress on K2 until next week for both alpine-style and commercial teams.

the lower part of K2 and the glacier below wrapped in clouds.

K2 today. Photo: Vedrines/Seb Montaz

Alpine-style teams

Kazuya Hiraide and Kenro Nakajima are back in Base Camp after scouting the West Face of K2.

Benjamin Vedrines of France is also in Base Camp after paragliding from just below Camp 3.

“It took five attempts but I finally managed to take off,” he wrote.

Vedrines attached a video of the flight, showing the Baltoro Glacier at his feet.

Another paraglider, Jean Ives Fredriksen, filmed a flight he made from Base Camp. Fredriksen is there with Bertrand Roche and Liv Sansoz. Reports are that they will attempt the first tandem flight from K2.

In general, the weather has not made things easier for this season’s several paragliders. Antonie Girard has been acclimatizing in the Hunza Valley for a month but only spent one night at 5,700m before moving on to the Baltoro. According to the French media, he may be planning to paraglide above K2.

A questionable soloist

We also expect to hear news shortly about Yousef Al Nassar of Kuwait, who wanted to try K2 without oxygen or porters. On his social media, he mentioned he wanted to climb “alpine style, via the Cesen route or the South Face.” He probably meant the Polish route up K2’s South Rib.

Last weekend, Al Nassar reported he was climbing a variation of the Cesen route. But according to his tracker, he didn’t get to the mountain. From 5,200m (the altitude of Base Camp or slightly above), he went back down the glacier. His latest track today locates the climber at 4,760m.

Commercial groups

All the main commercial outfitters will again be on K2. 8K, working with Karakoram Expeditions, set up Camp 2 and returned to Base Camp before the weather worsened. Garrett Madison arrived in Base Camp today. He has teams for K2, Broad Peak, and an unclimbed lesser summit, which he has not named for now.  Seven Summit Treks, as usual, have teams on all of Pakistan’s 8,000’ers.

Elite Exped has also confirmed its participation, despite the company’s and founder Nirmal Purja‘s recent controversies.

“We have a team climbing and guiding, including Nims, and will be supporting a group of clients, as well as some 14 peaks projects,” Elite Exped confirmed.

We asked about Elite Exped partner Mingma David Sherpa, who has climbed K2 a record six times.

“Mingma David still wants to go and attempt K2 for a record-breaking seventh time, but currently, he is preparing the teams for the autumn season in Nepal,” explained an Elite Exped spokesperson. “As soon as he can…find some spare time, he will go to K2.”

One prominent absence this year is Furtenbach Adventures. The Austrian outfitter has decided to skip Pakistan and focus on Cho Oyu and Ama Dablam in the fall. Lukas Furtenbach’s team retreated on K2 because of high avalanche risk last year. Two of his team members were the ones who filmed a dying Muhammad Hassan beside the fixed ropes under the Great Serac. Meanwhile, other climbers, who had continued despite conditions, headed past him toward the summit.

A wide view of K2's traverse and the Great Serac above.

A long line of climbers traverses under the Great Serac on K2, while Muhammad Hassan (location circled) lies by the ropes. Photo: Philip Flaemig

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.