Karakoram Update: Camp 1 Established on K2

After several days of bad weather in the Karakoram, conditions have finally stabilized. Heavy snowfall at high altitudes and rain at low altitudes hindered progress until June 25.

Several groups are still approaching their base camps. Those who had already arrived have now started to plan, and climb.

More climbers in the Karakoram

According to data reported by the secretary of the Alpine Club Of Pakistan, Karrar Hiadri, to mountain blogger Alan Arnette, a total of 672 climbing permits have been issued for 23 Karakoram peaks. The permits are spread between 57 expeditions.

Two huge Karakorum peaks with an alpine lake in the foreground.

Approaching K2 and Broad Peak. Photo: Stefi Troguet

 

The most interesting climbs confirmed so far include Latok II, Pumari Chhish East, K7 Central, Uli Biaho, Trango Tower, Nangma Valley, and Diran. These feature new route attempts, first ascents, and first ski descents made by small teams of two to five climbers.

Climber Edu Marin stands in front of the Nameless Tower, Trango.

Nameless Tower, Trango. Edu Marin recently reported that with the weather improving they will start to climb. Photo: Edu Marin

 

This season there will be a lot of teams on the Karakorum 8,000’ers. Permit data suggests 348 people are going to try to climb K2 or Broad Peak. Most will climb the normal routes, although there may be some variations. On K2, we expect that some teams will ascend the Cesen route, instead of the crowded Abruzzi route.

So far, no one has confirmed that they will attempt a new route on any of the 8,000’ers.

Most people will climb on the fixed ropes, with supplemental oxygen, and Sherpa support. Others will also use the normal fixed route but intend to climb without O2 and without Sherpa support.

Denis Urubko with climbing rope and making a fist.

Denis Urubko is back on the big mountains. Photo: Israfil Ashurli

Urubko is back

Denis Urubko, who has returned to the highest peaks, needs to decide which 8,000’ers he is going to climb this season. Urubko has four climbing permits: Gasherbrum I and II, Broad Peak, and K2. He is keeping his options open. Urubko told Desnivel magazine that he would see how everything flows before deciding how many he will attempt. Attempting all four would be extremely ambitious because Urubko never uses supplemental O2.

A group of Sherpa climbers gather together in the snow to discuss rope fixing work.

The fixing team planning their work on Nanga Parbat. Photo: Adriana Brownlee

Nanga Parbat

Several climbers have taken advantage of the good weekend weather to acclimatize on nearby Ganalo Peak (6,400m). Italian climbers Marco Confortola and Mario Vilemo climbed up to 5,000m on its south flank, with Turkish mountaineer Tunc Findik, Swiss climber Sophie Lavaud, and Belgian Paul Hegge.

Norwegian Kristin Harila, who intends to beat Nirmal Purja’s speed record by climbing all 14 8,000’ers in record time, has already been on Nanga Parbat for a week. Until Thursday she could not climb because of snowfall.

“The weather has been great the last two days. Good atmosphere and plenty of friends,” Harila reported on Saturday. Harila hoped to reach Camp 1 on Sunday, and then go down to Base Camp again. She might make a summit push next week. She is using O2 and is accompanied by Sherpas from 8K Expeditions.

A huge glacier running past several large mountain peaks.

Some climbers are acclimatizing on Ganalo Peak, close to Nanga Parbat. Photo: Marco Confortola

 

British climber Adriana Brownlee reached Camp 1 on Saturday and Camp 2 on Sunday, after a 1,000m ascent. Brownlee reported that the final pitch was very technical, with mixed rock and ice, and there is constant rock fall. Today, she intends to go down to Base Camp and wait for a summit window. Brownlee usually climbs with the use of O2, accompanied by Geljen Sherpa.

More teams will arrive at Base Camp over the next few days. On Saturday, the Imagine Nepal team arrived, led by Mingma G.

A rope fixer from the Karakorum Expeditions Team, on K2 stands holding a rope with blue sky above the slope behind him.

A rope fixer from the Karakorum Expeditions Team, on K2 on Sunday. Photo: Mirza Ali

K2 and Broad Peak

On June 24, Furtenbach Adventures announced that with the improved weather they would start rope fixing to Camp 2 so that their classic team could start their first rotation. Their “flash team” (a team that aims to pre-acclimatize and summit very quickly) was due to arrive over the weekend.

Route fixing has already started on K2, where members of Karakorum Expeditions have successfully established Camp 1. Its founder, Mirza Ali, reported that their two five-man teams started work early in the morning from Advanced Base Camp. After reaching Camp 1 on the Abruzzi route, ‘Team A’ returned to Base Camp safely. Team ‘B’, who reached Camp 1 on Sunday, will fix the route to Camp 2 today.

Starting towards Camp 1 on Broad Peak. Hungarian alpinist David Klein moves up a slope next to a steep rock wall.

Starting towards Camp 1 on Broad Peak. Hungarian alpinist David Klein reached Camp 1 before the rope fixing team. Klein climbs without bottled O2. Photo: Esemenyhorizont/Hohatar

Pakistani climbers

Several Pakistani climbers will attempt major peaks this season. Sirbaz Khan is going to try Gasherbrum I, Sheroze Kashif will attempt Nanga Parbat, Abdul Joshi, Wajid Ullah Nagri, Samina Baig, and Naila Kiani aim to climb K2.

Karrar Haidri with Naila Kiani, a Dubai-based Pakistani banker, and amateur boxer. Kiani will attempt K2.

Karrar Haidri with Naila Kiani, a Dubai-based Pakistani banker, and amateur boxer. Kiani will attempt K2. Photo: Karrar Haidri

 

Samina Baig was the first Pakistani woman to climb Everest, in 2013. Naila Kiani, who is an amateur boxer, was the first Pakistani woman to climb Gasherbrum II, and the first Pakistani woman to climb an 8,000’er in Pakistan.

Paragliding over the Baltoro

Three paragliding pilots, two Spaniards and one Belgian, have flown past K2. Approaching by paraglider from Paiyu (about 40kms away), Ramon Morillas, Hector Llorens, and Thomas De Dorlodot carried out their first flight on Sunday.

De Dorlodot and Llorens reached 7,010m on K2, and Ramon Morillas 6,500m. The team has two or three weeks to go higher.

Unlike previous paragliding flights which have taken off from K2, their flight is the first to fly from ground level up to the mountain using thermal currents. You can read more about their flight here.

A screenshot of a GPS tracker showing Thomas de Dorlodot's recent flight to K2.

Thomas de Dorlodot’s tracker on June 26.

 

In 1979 French adventurer Jean-Marc Boivin set an altitude record for a hang glider when he launched from nearly 8,000m after climbing K2. In 1989, Spanish mountain guide Alberto Posada launched with his parachute from Camp 3 (7,300m).

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law.

Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.