K2: Chaos at Camp 2

After a week at Base Camp waiting for the storm winds to drop, Nirmal Purja and company hurried to Camp 2 today, only to find tents and equipment destroyed and blown away. Likewise, Sergi Mingote seems to have lost his tent at Camp 1. Some expeditions may even be in jeopardy of ending prematurely.

While Purja had expected some damage from the winds up to 120kph in recent days, he wasn’t expecting to find what he called a “wreckage site”.

We have lost everything,” he said. “Sleeping bags, mattresses, heated shoe insoles, summit gloves/mittens, summit base layers, paragliding equipment, cooking equipment, etc.”

Why paragliding equipment, you may ask? It seems that Purja wants to paraglide from the summit of K2, if he gets there.

Now back at Base Camp, he wrote dispiritedly, “ I am devastated to be breaking this news. Now I have to reassess and re-plan everything.”

There is no news about Mingma G’s tent and gear, which is located a little higher than Purja’s at “Upper” Camp 2. But last night, Mingma G remarkably revealed that most of his team’s equipment was stashed at Camp 2, so that if his camp faces devastation similar to Purja’s, “We are done to go back home.”

Shredded tents at Camp 2 on another K2 expedition years earlier. Photo: Alan Arnette


Climbers with experience on K2 pointed out online today that Camp 2 is particularly exposed and that tents are regularly destroyed there, even in summer.

Expedition in doubt?

Meanwhile, Sergi Mingote’s tent appears to have been lost at Camp 1. He is also rightly concerned that a backpack he anchored at Camp 2 may also have been whisked away. The pack includes sleeping bags, a stove, fuel, food, and more. The securely anchored pack may have survived, but if not, “it looks bad. Very bad,” Mingote wrote somberly this afternoon. “So now, at 1700h, when the night has already taken over Base Camp, all are doubts. Tonight we will take the final decision. This is winter K2.”

Given that hurricane winds are not uncommon on K2 in winter, it begs the question: Was this poor planning by this season’s main protagonists, or just unfortunate timing?

Elsewhere in the Himalaya, Seven Summit Treks report a successful winter ascent of Ama Dablam (6,812m) by the three Sherpas fixing ropes, with two clients in tow. More guided climbers will follow up soon.