[Updated] Gasherbrum I SW Face: Czech Duo Holed up High on the Mountain in Bad Weather; Back in BC

Bad weather thwarted the duo’s summit-bid at 7700m, while they remained stuck up there with very limited resources in hand. Update: Climbers are back in BC.

Update (22-Aug-16 / 1200hrs local time)

Ondra Mandula’s home team just updated that the duo is “successfully” back in BC. Further details are awaited.

Original Post

After days of silence, Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula were finally able to send a message over the weekend. Bad weather thwarted the duo’s summit-bid at 7700m, while they are still stuck up there with very limited resources in hand.

After sitting in bivouac at 7700m, where overnight we were rolled by avalanches, we ran to the plateau where we are (currently) trapped under fire, wind and falling white of nothingness. The forecast is totally out of control. Food almost zero and very little water. We are wet, slightly frosted and we … We will have to escape; perhaps with God’s blessing.” The duo wrote in a brief message to home-team. Note that they have almost run out of batteries and previously haven’t been able to communicate since August 15th.

After due acclimatization and a couple of false starts, Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula launched summit push on GI Southwest Face in alpine style from BC on August 9th. They estimated the climb – both ascent and retreat – to conclude in 10 days. However, bad weather slowed their progress right from the start. After multiple halts, they were able to reach 7700m on August 15th. The two climbers hoped that they will be able to reach the top next day. However, as evident from latest communication, weather broke out that night.


Day 01: BC to 6000m
Day 02: Climbed to 6800m
Day 03: Remained in bivouac at 6800m due to bad weather
Day 04: 7000m
Day 07: Communication after a few days; bivouacking at 7700m.
Day 11: Message; trapped on mountain in bad weather.

Day 14: Back in BC.

Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula reached Gasherbrum BC at around mid-July. They climbed GI normal route till 7500m on July 25th for acclimatization, before returning to BC for rest and recovery. On Southwest Face, they are heading up in pure alpine style; no ropes, no camps, no oxygen, no support.

Marek has already attempted the route three times; twice with Zdenek Hruby in 2009 and 2013 – who sadly perished during latter attempt, and Tomas Petrecek in 2015. Ondra Mandula planned to climb G-IV, together with Jirka Pliska, this season. However, the expedition got delayed due to health issues of Jirka Pliska. Ondra Mandula thus joined Márek Holeček’s GI expedition.