Summit Tsunami on K2

When the weather improved, six Sherpas quickly fixed the route to the summit of K2. Meanwhile, climbers gathered in Camp 4 to start their own summit pushes.

Today, the floodgates opened, with dozens of summits. The ratio of paying climbers to staff (international mountain guides, Sherpas, and local support climbers) is as wide as on Everest, and in some cases even wider. Each team reports its summit news, and these reports started to arrive at around 5 am. They are still coming in.

Among the throng, there is only one confirmed summit without O2, Stefi Troguet of Andorra. Troguet is now on her way back to Camp 4. She hopes to stop for the night in Camp 3. You can follow her progress here.

Stefi Troguet’s tracker puts her on K2’s summit at around 10:45 am local time.

The weather turned

Yesterday, some climbers were concerned about the wind. However, it abated, and Grace Tseng says that conditions are excellent. Tseng also spoke of psychological obstacles and more difficult terrain than on Everest.

Tseng was not the only record seeker to top out. Kristin Harila and Dawa Ongchu bagged their eighth 8,000’er in a row, as part of their project to climb the 14 8,000’ers in only six months.

Jenn Drummond, aiming for the Second Seven Summits, summited with the Imagine Nepal team.

Samina Baig. Photo: Karrar Haidri

 

Samina Baig reached her dream summit and became the first Pakistani woman to stand atop of her country’s highest peak. She did so as part of a strong all-Pakistani team.

Sad news

Among the celebrations and excitement, there is a casualty to report. Ali Akber Sakai of Afghanistan has died on the mountain, Luis Soriano confirmed. “He was trying to take the name of the Afghan people to the highest summit,” Soriano wrote. There are no further details yet.

Jams on the way down?

As the old saying goes, the summit is just halfway, and the second half of K2 is proving less than relaxed for the descending teams.

“It was very busy for our team when they were descending the traverse and Bottleneck. They had to fix about 200m of new rope because of the many climbers coming up,” Garrett Madison told ExplorersWeb from Base Camp.

Luckily, the U.S. outfitter has a lot of staff. Out of the 15 members who reached the summit last night and this morning, only two were clients. The rest comprised two Western guides, 10 Nepali climbers, and one Pakistani climber. Their staff includes three members of the rope-fixing team who opened the route to the summit: Siddhi Bahadur Tamang, Dorji Gyeljen Sherpa, and Rinji Sherpa.

Madison’s team planned to descend at least as far as Camp 2 today. Most other expeditions have similar plans. Camp 2 has limited space, so it will be interesting to see how the teams cope. Those going on (limitless) O2 and feeling strong might try to reach Base Camp tonight. However, that may prove too far for others, especially if the going is as slow as it seems.

Those still high on the mountain must be careful, as conditions may get increasingly risky as temperatures rise later in the day. It’s pretty warm on the lower half of the mountain and it was only -17°C on the summit, according to Lukas Furtenbach. The Furtenbach Adventure team will decide where to stop for the night based on the temperature and risk factor, Furtenbach told ExplorersWeb.

It is hard to keep track of all the summits today, but the final figure could end up being the highest in K2’s history. Imagine Nepal has listed 23 summiters, Madison Mountaineering 15, 8K Expeditions 11, Pioneer Adventure 10, Baig’s Pakastani team numbered seven, and Seven Summit Treks reports 11 “and counting”.

Furtenbach Adventures said 100% of the team was on top today. There is also an unknown number of climbers outfitted by local agencies, so these numbers are far from the final tally.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specialised on high-altitude mountaineer 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 corporates, press manager and communication executive,and a published author.