It’s Over on Masherbrum; Climbers Going Down

Marek Holecek and Radoslav Groh have admitted that they simply cannot go any further up on Masherbrum’s West Face than 7,300m.

“Everything higher was already beyond our skills,” Holecek said. “Conditions…can only be described as catastrophic.”

The main difficulty was loose snow that “sticks on the rock for some mysterious reason [but] as soon as you touch it, it falls over 2,000m down to the glacier.”

Need to descend quickly

After seven nights of very slow progress on the face, they tried different ways to gain altitude toward the summit ridge, in vain.

“There was no ice, firn, or belaying, just crumbly rock, non-holding snow stuff and horror in the eyes,” Holecek colorfully recalled. “When we calculated our chances, only one thing came out: This is out of our reach.”

The two Czech climbers are tired, frustrated, and very far from safety. Below them, 3,000 vertical metres of a steep face in dangerous conditions, in which no single mistake is allowed.

They hope to make it down by Tuesday before a long period of bad weather settles in.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer 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.