K2 Gong Show Continues

“The commercialization of alpinism consists of selling extraordinary first ascents to ordinary people,” Jost Kobusch told ExplorersWeb two weeks ago about the Winter K2 attempts. “I don’t doubt some will be skilled and experienced, but it’s hard to believe that in such a large group, all of them are.”

As more participants make their ambitions public, his words seem prescient. The latest additions point to possible clients of Nirmal Purja, who is now acclimatizing in Nepal and will head to Pakistan by Christmas.

Training with him for K2 is Canadian Marie Pierre Desharnais, 35. Desharnais intends to “elevate the female footprint” by summiting five peaks (Everest, K2, Ojos del Salado, Vinson, and Sidley) within a year. Her website is out of date, however, since her project was meant for 2020. It is not clear whether she has climbed any of the peaks on her list. A picture with Nirmal Purja, below, shows her on the summit of Ama Dablam last year, when the expedition controversially wrapped the mountain in a Kuwaiti flag.

Desharnais with Nirmal Purja on Ama Dablam last year. Photo: Marie Desharnais


Meanwhile, a 19-year-old (!) British woman, Adriana Brownlee, claims that she is joining Purja’s team as well.

Originally aiming for Everest, Adriana Brownlee practiced her ladder-crossing techniques during lockdown (yes, the manufacturer of the vehicle is one of her sponsors). Photo: Adriana Brownlee


On her website, Adriana Brownlee explains that she’s been knocking about the mountains with her father since she was nine, that she climbed Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, and Aconcagua in 2019, that she is going to Everest in spring as part of her Seven Summits challenge, and today on IG, that she is leaving for Pakistan in nine days for Winter K2. Purja has not confirmed his clients, and although Brownlee links to his Elite Himalayan Adventures website, it is hard to believe that Purja would take on this sort of responsibility.

Snorri and Ali Sadpara at the top of the fixed ropes yesterday on K2. Photo: John Snorri


Back to reality, John Snorri and the Sadparas fixed the route to Camp 1 at 6,000m yesterday: “It was sunny for part of the day and -25ºC,” Snorri reported. The climbers then retreated to ABC for the night. “[Today] we will head back to Base Camp because we are totally exhausted,” Snorri added, although the relatively good weather is forecast to continue until the weekend.

Mingma G has just arrived in BC, and Seven Summit Treks’ first Sherpa team is on its way to the Baltoro. Snorri’s and the Sadparas’ days of owning the mountain are almost over.

Despite the brief sunny window, the overall outlook is gloomy, with a poor weather forecast for the next several days. It was -17ºC last night in Skardu, and the BBC reports upcoming temps down to -46ºC at Base Camp. International climbers may get a taste of what faces them on K2 from the moment they start trekking. Most fly to Islamabad today or tomorrow.

Magdalena Gordkowska interviewed on her way to Islamabad today. Photo: Magdalena Gordkowska


While most begin their expeditions, a few are just wrapping up theirs. Stef Maginelle and Sophie Lenaerts are back in the “wifi zone” after their skiing trip to Hispar-Biafo. Further details about their successful adventure are expected soon.

Sophie Lenaerts and Stef Maginelle in Biafo-Hispar. Photo: Stef Maginelle