More on Colin O’Brady and the K2 Rumor Mill

The game of secrecy, the calculated dissemination of teasers, work very well with upcoming Netflix series, but not so when preparing for a winter K2 expedition.

The interest created around the ever-growing number of climbers heading for winter K2, the lack of a complete list of members under each expedition permit, and the incomplete information posted by some participants on social media has caused a surge of rumors. It’s not until the news is out that the climbers or their entourages set the record straight.

The Brownlees, daughter and father, atop the Matterhorn last year. Photo:


Adriana Brownlee, 19, of the UK caused a stir when she revealed her intention to go to Winter K2. Yesterday, her father, Tony Brownlee, clarified to ExplorersWeb that his daughter will not try for the summit. If conditions are right, she will simply go to an intermediate camp. The idea is to learn from the extreme conditions in order to prepare for a (surely not so cold) Everest in spring 2021.

“She has been climbing since the age of nine and has slowly built up her resumé of experience of climbing, altitude, and endurance,” Mr. Brownlee wrote. “She has performed beyond expectations and always acts responsibly and with maturity. She will learn and grow as a mountaineer tremendously on this expedition without putting herself or others at risk.”

Colin O’Brady with SST, not Purja

A second correction concerns Colin O’Brady. According to his wife, Jenna Besaw, he is going to K2 under the Seven Summit Treks permit, not as a client of Nirmal Purja, with whom she says there is no connection.

“Colin has never spoken or met Nims and is not being guided,” she tweeted, although it remains unclear what “not guided” means for an explorer who has been criticized for playing with definitions. O’Brady will climb with long-time partner Jon Kedrowski.

Alex Gavan on the summit of his latest 8,000er, Gasherbrum II, in 2019. Photo: Alex Gavan


More climbers for K2

Neither Purja nor his company, Elite Himalayan Guides, has published a list of clients for K2, although some of them have leaked news of their plans. Irina Galay, who in 2016 became the first Ukrainian woman to summit Everest, is reportedly on the list.

Meanwhile, new Winter K2 aspirants pop up seemingly by the hour. Some, like Slovenian Tomaz Rotar and Romanian Alex Gavan, prefer to show their hands only once they’ve arrived in Pakistan. Rotar attempted Winter K2 last winter on a Mingma G-guided climb. Like John Snorri, Rotar spared no criticism for how he felt the expedition was run. He was cited as a member of the SST group from the very first, but then had his name deleted from the list. Now he is back again, publicly.

Gavan, meanwhile, seemed to have no intention of leaving home this winter. He has never been in a winter expedition before, but he has already summited seven 8,000’ers, all without O2 or Sherpa support. With over 10 years of Himalayan experience, he will rank among the strongest climbers there.

Meanwhile, Snorri and the Sadparas are still in Base Camp despite beautiful weather. “It is sunny, -11 Celsius, and it feels like a heatwave,” Snorri admitted on Instagram. “But the weather is still harsh on the mountain, so we are waiting.”

John Snorri is getting K2 BC ready for Christmas. Photo: John Snorri

Angela Benavides is a journalist specialised on high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news working with

Angela Benavides 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 national and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporates, press manager and communication executive, radio reporter and anchorwoman, etc. Experience in Education: Researcher at Spain’s National University for Distance Learning on the European Commission-funded ECO Learning Project; experience in teaching ELE (Spanish as a Second Language) and transcultural training for expats living in Spain.

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Steve Jones
1 year ago

K2 is a high-risk mountain to go to in order ‘to gain experience’ because of the significant rock fall hazard, which is made worse by large numbers. David Hamilton explains this really clearly on this video: from 38 minutes in.

1 year ago

O’Brady’s critics are irrational. If you don’t like him, fine, no one really cares. But if your issue with him is over the word “unassisted” and him wanting walking across Antarctica to be classified differently than having two kites drag you across the continent, then grow up. He also gave Ousland the credit that he deserved. It’s not O’Brady’s fault that the NatGeo writer doesn’t know how to do his job properly.

1 year ago
Reply to  Ryan

The issue isn’t with unassisted, it’s the fact that he didn’t really cross the continent from water to water as Ousland did. He literally took the shortest route possible from one land edge to the other and used the polar road along the way. Turning 45 degrees at the pole kind of discredits it as a transit. Just look at his route on a map, it’s a far stretch to call going to the pole by the shortest route, then turning towards the nearest coast, a traverse