K2: Who Will Fix The Ropes, and Who Will Use Them?

The first staff members of Mirza Ali’s commercial expedition reached Base Camp today, along with Ali’s sister and K2 climber, Samina Baig.

“Hopefully, we will start the rope-fixing asap,” Ali told ExplorersWeb. His company, Karakorum Expeditions, plans to take 11 clients up K2 (and some also up Broad Peak) with a local force of 22 Pakistani climbers, supervised by UIAGM guides Jordi Tosas and Stefan Keck.

Samina Baig at Concordia today, with K2 in the background. Photo: Samina Baig


Garrett Madison told ExplorersWeb that he is also leading a team on a K2-Broad Peak double-header. But it will take some time for them to reach the mountain. Madison is still at home in the U.S., working on logistics. They plan to get to Base Camp by July 5.

Madison team climbers on K2 in 2019. Back then, they chose the Cesen route, shown, to set up Camp 2. Photo: Madison Mountaineering


“Independent” climbers

Meanwhile, another group of climbers is already in Skardu, ready to start their approach trek. Virtually all of them will need fixed ropes in order to climb.

“Some of them have asked me about this,” Jordi Tosas told ExplorersWeb last Friday. “They are listed as independent climbers but they expect the Abruzzi Route to be fixed. Otherwise, they say they wouldn’t have come at all.”

Tosas has finally reached Skardu, after enduring repeated cancellations of his flight to Islamabad. He is aware that he will be short on acclimatization by the time he reaches K2.

A group of five climbers from Belgium, led by Sophie Lenaerts and Niels Jespers, have already offered to contribute ropes and help with the fixing, says Mirza Ali. He already has plenty of rope but is open to cooperating with other teams.

Jordi Tosas: Photo: Jordi Tosas/Instagram


What would happen if some supposedly independent climbers chose simply to use the ropes put up by others?

“Speaking for myself and not for the expedition,” said Tosas, “I’d kindly explain what we are doing, but ultimately let them use the ropes anyway. I don’t think the mountain becomes the sole property of the company that fixes the route. Besides, all climbers here have hired a company for logistics, even if it’s only to Base Camp. I’m sure companies can reach agreements among them.”

Tosas is more concerned about the scant room available at the higher camps, especially at Camp 2. “K2 cannot be commercialized on the same scale as Everest,” he said. “It just can’t handle that many climbers. The crowding and lack of space at higher camps would be too dangerous.”

He adds: “I understand that more permits mean more money for a country. Still, I like how the Pakistani people are aware of the peak’s limits and want to keep a sustainable approach.”