Pakistan Update: K2, Gasherbrums, Nanga Parbat

Most teams in Pakistan’s Karakoram and Himalaya are using the good weather to acclimatize, but those on Nanga Parbat may be ready for the final push. K2 remains in its early stages, and those currently on the Gasherbrums can’t find a route across the glacier and through the icefall to begin their climbs.


Kazuya Hiraide and Kenro Nakajima set off today to scout the lower part of the West Face.

Commercial teams should start reaching Base Camp this weekend. Some may stay on K2 but others will acclimatize (and maybe climb) the easier Broad Peak first. Broad Peak’s Base Camp is just hours away from K2’s.

Alpine-style teams

Helias Millerioux and Yannick Graziani have set up base camp on the moraine of the Khunyang (Khingyang) Glacier after two days at 5,200m on their first acclimatization round. As we previously mentioned, they are surrounded by huge 7,000’ers guarded by serac barriers: Trivor (7,640m), Balarung Sar (7,130m), Distaghil Sar (7,885m), and Khungyang Chhish (7,850m).

“All of them have been summited at least twice,” Millerioux wrote but still did not reveal their goal.

Mathieu Maynadier and the Ladevant brothers are off for their final acclimatization trip on nearby peaks before attempting a new route on Pumari Chhish Central. They left Base Camp on Wednesday, planning to sleep at 6,000m and possibly climb a lesser peak. They expect to be back in base camp by June 30.

“Iā€™m feeling in great shape, better than I did two years ago in the same place,” Maynadier wrote. “Conditions are good, we just need some nice weather to maximize our chances of success.”

The Spanish team is on its way from Skardu to K7.

Problems at the Gasherbrums

Again this year, Gasherbrum hopefuls are discovering that the hardest part comes even before the climbing. This time, it could be worse than ever.

“Already a week below the Gasherbrums and no progress,” complained Lukasz Supergan of Poland. “The icefall leading deep into the Gasherbrums offers no easy passage ā€“- in fact, none at all. There is no logical route visible through it, and every potentially accessible corridor is surrounded by massive crevasses and blocks of ice.”

According to Supergan, they unsuccessfully tried to find a passage on the left side of the glacier based on the route opened in recent years. A French team tried on the right side for a week, but it was also in vain.

“Even the scouting we do with a drone doesn’t help much,” Supergan said. “Rather, it illustrates the number of obstacles.”

The always tricky Gasherbrum Glacier has become even more dangerous in recent years because of climate change. Traversing it is often riskier than climbing the peaks, even in winter, as Denis Urubko learned last January. His solo winter attempt ended abruptly when he fell into a crevasse and suffered frostbite.

Nanga Parbat: summit push next week

Anna Tybor and Tom Lafaille are back in Base Camp after their final acclimatization climb to Camp 3, where they have left gear and supplies for the final push.

“It wasn’t easy due to the large amounts of snow,” Tybor noted.

The pair will climb without supplementary oxygen and plan to ski down the mountain.

No news yet from David Goettler, Tiphaine Duperier, and Boris Langenstein on the Rupal side.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.