K2 Exclusive: Alex Gavan Reports From Base Camp

Today, ExplorersWeb reached Alex Gavan by phone at K2 Base Camp, where the mood is rather somber, despite the gorgeous day. The damaged gear in Camps 1 and 2 has most climbers deeply concerned. But Gavan and his partner, Tamara Lunger, were cautious enough to secure their gear in those higher camps and now have a much brighter outlook.

“It seems that in Camp 2, five tents were blown away,” Gavan told ExWeb. “Our deposit in Camp 1, however, is fine because we put the tents down and we anchored every piece of equipment we had inside.”

The pair have also secured their BC tents and the 10 blue plastic barrels with their 145kg of gear. A wise strategy: Even at Base Camp, the wind roared at 80kph yesterday.

Because of their prudence/experience, while others ponder whether to call off their expedition and go home, Lunger and Gavan are thinking ahead to their next acclimatization round and beyond. “We want to set up Camp 2 and spend the night there,” said Gavan. “Then weather permitting, we will venture up to the Black Pyramid, aiming for lower Camp 3.”

“For more than a week I could not see the top of K2 because of the unstable weather, but this is normal in the high mountains and even more so in winter and in this place,” wrote Gavan elsewhere.

As for their immediate plans, they are waiting on a new weather forecast at 5 pm today. “If the weather remains good, we will go up tomorrow for a first night at Camp 1,” Gavan explained. “Then we will establish Camp 2 and try to remain there for two nights because we haven’t been to Camp 2 yet.” If the fair weather holds, they will press on to Camp 3 for further acclimatization.

Tamara Lunger right below Camp 1. Photo: Alex Gavan


Tamara Lunger has repeatedly stated that she believes that the key to potential success is good acclimatization and that she and Gavan would focus on it.

Gavan revealed that it was recently -34˚C in Base Camp, not counting the windchill,  and -66˚on the summit. “Sometimes when you inhale, the air that enters your lungs hurts, ” he said. Still, he insists that he’d rather be here than anywhere else. “I am exactly where I am meant to be and I am infinitely grateful for that,” he added.

Gavan has also been careful to keep his team on an even mental keel. From the time he left Skardu, he stayed away from the news and off social media. Today for the first time, the Romanian climber relaxed his discipline and posted a long, personal reflection on FaceBook about his philosophical approach to the climb.

Gavan declined to comment to ExWeb about the plans of other climbers, especially those who lost precious gear at Camps 1 and 2. “Right now, I am not sure what’s going to happen,” he said.

Uncertainty is, indeed, the best word to describe the immediate future of most expeditions currently in Base Camp. “We are not sure about our Camp 2 just below the Black Pyramid at 7,000m,” Mingma G reported earlier today. He hopes that the gear is safe, but if it’s been blown away, they may have to give up and go home.

The three Sherpa climbers will go and check shortly. Mingma G’s tents are higher than the others, so it is not possible for them to get there and back to BC in one day.

A masked Mingma G during his last rotation up winter K2. Photo: Mingma G


Sergi Mingote, Juan Pablo Mohr, and other climbers hope to head up today as well to check the damage. Mingote fears that he may have lost his tent in C1 but hopes that a cache of gear that he has left in Camp 2 is intact.

Purja, at least, vows to continue: “I am just a bit gutted about missing another summit window,” he wrote today. “However, the plan is still ON, and the summit will be pushed a bit late in the season.”

Purja spent the day regrouping, but plans to do another, even heavier carry with his team to the higher camps. “It will have to a bigger push this time,” he says. “The plan is to complete fixing lines up to Camp 4.”