Karakorum Update: Will There Also Be Traffic Jams on K2?

Deep snow on the Baltoro Glacier has slowed teams trekking towards K2, Broad Peak and the Gasherbrums, Alpine Adventure Guides told ExplorersWeb. The same poor conditions thwarted today’s air search for two missing Chinese climbers on an unclimbed peak in the Liligo Glacier/Trango Towers area.

Luckily, better weather in the Hindu Kush allowed the rescue of the four Italians and two Pakistani caught yesterday in an avalanche on Melvin Jones Peak. Sadly, another Pakistani member died in the incident.

Climbers recued on Malvin Jones Peak

Climbers rescued from Melvin Jones Peak. Photo courtesy of Alpine Adventure Guides


Nearly 400 climbers are heading for the Karakorum this season: 164 for K2, 84 for the Gasherbrums, 58 for Broad Peak, plus a large number of double and triple permits. Some small teams are also targeting 6,000m and 7,000m peaks such as Distaghil Sar, Muztagh Tower, Pumari Chhish, Spantik and Rakaposhi.

The groups on their way to K2 include both big commercial expeditions led by Furtenbach Adventures and Seven Summit Treks, and a few independents, including Ecuador’s Esteban Mena and Carla Perez, who will climb without supplementary O2. Adrian Ballinger, owner and head guide of Alpenglow Expeditions, also aims for a no-O2 K2. Canadian Louis Rousseau and Brit Rick Allen may follow suit; precise details about their K2 plans will come soon.

The large number of K2 permits suggests possible lack of room for tents in higher camps (as noted by Stefan Nestler) and traffic jams in technical sections such as the House Chimney and the Bottleneck.

7Summits Treks K2 team.

German Billi Bierling and New Zealander Lydia Bradey will lead a woman’s climb of Broad Peak. Bierling is well-known for her mountain journalism, as she has become Liz Hawley’s de facto successor in maintaining the Himalayan Database.

While snow has delayed many Karakorum teams, climbing is already underway on Nanga Parbat, usually the first peak reached by summer expeditions. The Russian-Italian Death Zone Freeride skiers have already set up Camps 1 and 2. True to their name, they risked using an old rope they found on the Kinshoffer Wall. On their way back to Base Camp on Sunday, they skied down from 5,300m.

Nanga Parbat skiers

Nanga Parbat skiers near Camp 2 last weekend. Photo: Mountain.ru


According to a list of climbing permits issued, a second ski expedition from France will soon join the Freeriders on the mountain. So will Sergi Mingote: Instead of starting with the Gasherbrums, he has decided to head directly to Nanga Parbat to join Ali Sadpara, who is currently guiding Instagram influencer Stefi Troquet and other clients on the mountain.

Denis Urubko and María Cardell will attempt a new route on Gasherbrum II. Photo: Mountain.ru


After several days and sleepless nights spent grappling with red tape, Denis Urubko and María Cardell finally got their climbing permit for Gasherbrum II. The pair set off for Askole today. Once at Base Camp, they’ll assess conditions before attempting their new route. For now, they plan to go on their own, traveling as lightly as possible.

In an interview with the Spanish magazine Oxigeno, Cardell admitted that despite their careful preparations and experience, their chances of success on this challenging project are only 50-50. “For me, this is about fulfilling a great dream together with the person I love,” she said.

Swift, comfortable Pakistani Airlines jets have replaced the hazardous drives along the Karakorum Highway. Photo: Lina Quesada


Related story:

2019 Karakorum Season: K2, Gasherbrums and Nanga Parbat