K2: The Moment of Truth

The next 48 hours will be crucial on K2. Using no supplementary oxygen, Juan Pablo Mohr and Tamara Lunger are breaking trail up the Shoulder. They are carrying a small tent that they plan to pitch for a short rest. Then they will set off in the pitch-black toward the infamous Bottleneck, the mountain’s upper slopes and the summit.

Behind them, most climbers are moving up to Camp 3 at approximately 7,300m.

Camp 3 during this year’s first summit push (January 14). Photo: Alpine Adventure Guides Pakistan

 

For everyone on the mountain, with or without supplementary O2, this is the last chance to test their acclimatization and stamina before making a final decision about a summit push. In addition to weariness after so many weeks enduring the Karakorum winter, lack of acclimatization is a concern. Other worries include conditions on the mountain (especially unstable snow slabs on the shoulder and ice at the bottleneck), as well as the state of the fixed ropes.

Forecasts still show very good conditions today. Though the wind may pick up slightly, the weather will be acceptable tomorrow morning, too. However, by Saturday, climbers might be facing gale-force winds.

The weather forecast for the summit of K2 from February 4 to February 6, according to MeteoExploration.

 

Speed record attempt

Pasang Norbu Sherpa has set off on a K2 speed record attempt. The Nepali climber left Base Camp at 6 am local time today, aiming for a lightning-fast ascent to the summit. Stay tuned for a separate story.

Teams back in Base Camp

Magdalena Gorzkowska has not recovered from the stomach bug that has bothered her since the start of this summit push. She was sick on the way to Camp 1, and her condition worsened yesterday morning. She returned to Base Camp under her own power but has since been airlifted to Skardu, where she is recovering. In fact, a stomach bug is plaguing half of the climbers, according to Atanas Skatov’s team. ¬†“Even Atanas went up with such health issues, but with will, stubbornness and faith,” he made it to Camp 2, they said.

Atanas Skatov of Bulgaria and Lakpa Dendi of Nepal leave Base Camp yesterday. They are expected to reach Camp 3 today. Photo: Atanas Skatov