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Karakoram 2008 Season's end Chronicle

Posted: Sep 30, 2008 06:58 pm EDT

(K2Climb.net) You've seen his name here plenty of times and following his Everest and Himalaya Season's end Chronicle; last week ExWeb's contributor Brazilian writer and chronicler Rodrigo Granzotto Peron compiled an amazing season's end report from the past Pakistan season. Enjoy! <cutoff>

<b>Karakoram 2008 Seasons end Chronicle</b>
<i>by Rodrigo Granzotto Peron</i>

<b>I RACERS:</b>

More than in previous seasons; in summer 2008 a large number of climbers took advantage of the proximity between K2, G1, G2 and BP to collect multiple peaks in a short time period.

The only one with real conditions to accomplish the race was Finnish Veikka Gustafsson, with a triple-header in his path. Teaming-up with Japanese Hirotaka Takeuchi and Kazuya Hiraide, he summited Gasherbrum II (July 8th) and Broad Peak (July 31th), but in between Gasherbrum I was elusive. A summit bid was launched with Colombians Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio and Jose Barrera, Spanish Esther Sabadell and Pakistani Hassan, but they stopped at 7800m when a storm broke with full rage.

The three lady climbers that are dueling to be the first woman to summit all 14 8000ers did not show up this season (Gerlinde recovering from pneumonia and Nives and Edurne already having conquered all 8000ers in Pakistan). Better for Korean Go Mi-Sun, the rising star who summited K2 (August 1st), her 6th 8000er in a very short lapse (her first 8000er was Cho Oyu 2006 , and since then, in mere 22 months, she had accumulated success on EV, BP, SH, LH, and now K2). She is still far from The Three Sopranos of mountaineering, but is getting closer fast.

Current status of racers who bagged a summit this season*:

13 Veikka Gustafsson (FIN)
11 Hirotaka Takeuchi (JAP)
11 João Garcia (POR)
09 Jorge Egocheaga Rodriguez (SPA)
09 Mario Panzeri (ITA)
07 Peter Hamor (SLK)
06 Alberto Zerain (SPA)
06 Dodo Kopold (SLK)
06 Go Mi-Sun (S-K)
06 Marco Confortola (ITA)
06 Piotr Morawski (POL)
05 Kim Jae-Soo (S-K)
05 Martin Ramos (SPA)


The 2008 Karakoram summer was aflame with ambitious goals and high hopes shared by many expeditions.

Dodo Kopold & Vlado Plulik aimed for a never-before-done tetralogy on Baltoro, summiting all four giants. The first goals were accomplished rapidly: Gasherbrum II (June 9th) and Gasherbrum I (June 15th). But on Broad Peak things got dark hues. The duo split. While Vlado proceeded alone on the regular route, Dodo went on virgin terrain and did a new variation, topping out on June 26th. When he returned to BC no trace of Vlado. The last time he was seen was on a bivouac below the Rocky Summit. Afterwards, silence

These days Tres Pedros Piotr Pustelnik, Piotr Morawski and Peter Hamor are among the most exciting groups in mountaineering. Tough routes, difficult repetitions, and traverses are all on their menu. In summer 2008, 24 years after the first traverse of Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum II by Reinhold Messner and Hans Kammerlander, they organized a plot to do the second traverse, adding difficulty by reaching also Gasherbrum III. Piotr Morawski and Peter Hamor ended up doing a traverse of G1 (in alpine style and alone on the route), and then bagged G2 via the normal route.

Russians Valery Babanov and Viktor Afanasyev had an incredible partnership in Pakistan. First came a 3000m-long new route on SW Face of Broad Peak (July 17th), only the fifth route on BP, and the second from this flank. Then the Russians also drew a new line on the SW Face of Gasherbrum I (August 1st). Also scheduled was a new route on Gasherbrum II, but bad weather prevented this final goal.

The difficult Batura II (7.762m), known as the highest unclimbed mountain, has resisted many expeditions. The first one in 1959 by an Anglo-German party under leadership of Keith Warburton ended in tragedy. The Japanese made an attempt in 1978 that resulted in the first ascent of the nearby Batura IV (7.594m). Some years later the Polish-German team of Wladyslaw Wisz also tried BII but summited instead BIV. In 2002 and 2006 Marcus Walker gave it a try, but no cigar. Simone Moro & Joby Ogwyn made an attempt in 2005, up to 7100m. Finally Batura II lifted its guard a little bit, enough for Kim Chang-Ho (6, 8000ers in the curriculum) and Choi Suk-Mun, two members of the Seoul University Expedition, who climbed the entire South Face and entered history as the first ascenders.

Batura II was also the aim of Simone Moro and Hervé Barmasse, but they changed plans since the Koreans had arrived first and were fixing the entire route. Instead they targeted Beka Brakai Chhok (6.940m), a peak recently tried twice by lady climber Pat Deavoll, from New-Zealand (2007 and 2008 attempts). With no difficulty, Simone & Hervé made the first ascent through the South Face.

The strong team from Spain comprising Alberto Iñurrategi, José Carlos Tamayo, Ferrán Latorre, Juan Vallejo and Miguel Zabalaza summited Gasherbrum IV via the Australian-American route on the NW Ridge (the third ascent through this route). On descent, Latorre was hit by a falling rock and had a leg injury, but managed to reach BC and was evacuated by helicopter without further complications.

Another Spanish team with Carles Figueras Torrent, Josep Maria Solá Caros and Josep (Pepe) Permañe Sabates, after a failed attempt on Rakaposhi, did the first absolute ascent of Neyzah Peak (5.788m), a spire in northern Pakistan, above Kunti Glacier.


With little noise, French lady climber Elisabeth Revol, in her first experience on 8000ers, summited BP (July 17th), then G2 (July 30th), and finally G1 (August 1st), to amaze the mountaineering community with an astonishing fast triple-header, a 15-days run.

She matches the record of Erhard Loretan and Marcel Ruedi on 1983 and beat the previous female record holder Nives Meroi (20 days in 2003). She was even faster than Dodo Kopold, who also bagged the same triple-header this season, but in 17 days.

(Ed note: Some of the recent ascents are yet to be fully confirmed.)


The first partial ski descent of Nanga Parbat took place in June 1990, when Josef Walter, Marianne Walter, Rudolf Bilgram and Josef Stiller skied down the Kinshofer Route of Nanga Parbat, from 6.400m to Diama Col. Some days later Hans Kammerlander and Diego Wellig skied down from the top of Nanga Parbat North (8.070m), a subsidiary summit of Nanga Massif, to BC also along the Kinshofer Route. The entire face, from main top to BC was never accomplished.

This season German climber and skier Luis Stitzinger made amazing things on Nanga Parbat. First, leading clients for DAV Summit Club he topped out June 21th. After a few days of rest he climbed up again with Joe Lunger, along the Mazeno Ridge, going as far as Mazeno Peak (7.120m), from where they turned back due to weather instability. One week later he was on the slopes of Nanga Parbat for the third time. Climbing solo he managed to reach 7.800m, from where he made the first partial ski descent on the central slopes of Diamir Flank.


Tragedy spread shadows upon Karakoram this summer.

Very early in the season a crevasse took the life of the great mountaineer and extreme skier Jean-Noel Urban on Gasherbrum I. Among other realizations, he skied down Cho Oyu and Gasherbrum II. A great loss.

Almost a month later and another crevasse killed Karl Unterkircher, a rising star with new routes on Gasherbrum II and Jasemba in 2007 and Chongra on 2008. His team mates Walter Nones and Simon Kehrer faced difficulty to get out of the dangerous Rakhiot Flank of Nanga Parbat, but managed escape traversing the slopes to Hermann Buhls 1953 route after a week of ordeal and were rescued from 5.900m by helicopter.

On Spantik, Austrian Armin Liedl fell and broke a leg. The air rescue, performed by the Pakistani Army, was incredible. The injured climber was airlifted just in time from 5700 meters and is alright.

August 1st was to be one of the finest days on K2 ever. Eighteen climbers from eight countries summiting together in a joint effort between the Abruzzi and Cesen teams. But the first news was not good. A Serbian mountaineer (Dren Mandic) let some climbers pass him on the Bottleneck, lost his balance and fell down the face. Shortly after, a porter also fell to his death. Almost everybody else summitted, the first at 2 pm, and the last wave at almost 8 pm. This was, unfortunately, the eye of the hurricane.

On the way down, a huge serac broke from the superior ice field and caused an avalanche that swept the Bottleneck and the upper slopes, taking the lives of five climbers. Four others were trapped when the avalanche cut off the fixed ropes. At the end of August 2nd the obituary had 11 names. This was the third most terrible disaster on an 8000er ever (just after Nanga Parbat 1937 and Manaslu 1972). The summit/fatality levels on The Killer Mountain were dropping considerably (38% in 1986; 31% in 1996; 23% in 2007), but with this tragedy the numbers went back to what they were in the 90´s, with now almost at 26%.

Another tragedy took place on Muztagh Tower (7.273m), where ace climber Pavle Kozjek fell to his death on the North Face. He was known for tough new routes on SH and CH and his impressive fast climbs on Andes.


a) K2:

First Norwegians Cecilie Skog and Lars Naesse
First Irish Gerard McDonnell
First Nepalese from Bhote ethnic group: Jumik and Pasang
Second Oldest Hugues d`Aubarede (FRA), 61 years old, just behind Carlos Soria (65)

b) Nanga Parbat:

First Iranians: Leila Esfandiary, Kazem Faridyan, Sahand Aghdaei, Hossein Abolhassani and Amir Hossein Partovinia

c) Broad Peak:

First Portuguese João Garcia
First Finnish Veikka Gustafsson

d) On Gasherbrum II:

First Finnish Veikka Gustafsson
First Danish Jakob Urth & Jacob Klaris-Jensen


a) Ascents:

K2 18
Nanga Parbat 17
Gasherbrum I 11
Broad Peak 15
Gasherbrum II 32


b) Curiosities:

In 2008, just like Manaslu, also Nanga Parbat and K2 surpassed the 300-ascents mark. Nisar Hussain is the third Pakistani and the second Balti to summit all 5, 8000ers in Pakistan. Hirotaka Takeuchi is the first Japanese to summit 10 different 8000ers.

<i>*The numbers in the sections marked * are based on preliminary data and under analysis. Some will be revisited in the following months, with possibly a few corrections to be done by then.</i>

#Mountaineering #feature

Another piece of history has been carved in the Baltoro rock, and at AdventureStats.
Image by ExplorersWeb courtesy Explorersweb, SOURCE
Vlado (left) and Dodo in Pakistan (click to enlarge).
Scouting a new route on Nangas Rakhiot face, Karl (38) perished in a crevasse fall. Image of Unterkircher in K2's BC in 2004, courtesy of Unterkircher's website (click to enlarge).
Very early in the season a crevasse took the life of the great mountaineer and extreme skier Jean-Noel Urban on Gasherbrum I. Image of JN at Chogolisa this summer, courtesy of Jean-Noel Urban's website (click to enlarge).
Another tragedy took place on Muztagh Tower (7.273m), where ace climber Pavle Kozjek fell to his death on the North Face. He was known for tough new routes on SH and CH and his impressive fast climbs on Andes. Image of Pavle courtesy of Pavle Kozjek (click to enlarge).
Image of Rolf Bae (left) and Gerard McDonnell (right) courtesy of the Beyond Endurance Expedition 2006.