After an incredible spring and summer of high altitude action, perhaps the most remarkable feats are about to happen on Pakistan's K2.
First Korean Oh summits Annapurna becoming the first woman to climb all 14 8000 meter peaks. Then the Spaniard Pasaban tops out on Shisha to become the second woman to send the 8000ers. Now on K2, Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner is in position to be the first woman to climb all of the 8000ers without the use of supplemental oxygen. Reinhold Messner was the first to accomplish this in 1986 and since then only 10 people have been able to pull it off.
Another amazing attempt is going on as well, Swede Fedrik Ericsson is going for a ski descent of the Cesen route. Fred is back for another attempt after his trip last year was cut short by the death of his partner. He is super strong and has already skied sections of the mountain that were previously unridden, the most dramatic of which is the huge bowl that drops off of the shoulder. It starts at 7800 meters on the lowest point (top of the S-SE spur) and extends up and over to the Bottleneck at 8300 meters. This feature on the south face is probably one of the most appealing slopes to ride on K2, huge, steep, exposed, super dramatic no-fall skiing. Huge respect to Fred for riding this. I had dreamed so many times of dropping into this wall, a 3000 vertical foot shot hanging on the south face, I'm so happy he got to ride it.
The usual weather window for K2 occurs around the 1st of August. This is not like an Everest window where the winds die down and the weather is good for a week or two. This is a K2 window, 3 days maximum. From the forecasts that I've seen, it looks like the 5th and 6th have low winds up high (14 km p/h). That would mean that the climbers would leave base camp on the 2nd or 3rd depending on if they were skipping camps on the way up. Some climbers choose to climb from bc direct to camp 2, stay the night, climb to camp 3, rest for a few hours, then start a summit push from there. This may be the strategy for a few of the strongest people but since no one has reached the bottleneck, there are no ropes fixed. I'm sure there has been a collective discussion in bc to sort out who will fix the ropes. The folks fixing the ropes will most likely follow a more conservative ascent schedule, launching a summit push from the traditional place, camp 4 on the shoulder.
The next few days will be very interesting ones, as this will likely be the last attempt of the season. With many teams already on their way home, there are few left. If the weather doesn't hold, most will be forced to leave due to depleted resources on the mountain (food, gas, O2) or to travel agendas. Hopefully the weather cooperates and all top out like in 2004. If so, we will see, the first complete ski descent, first woman to climb all 14 8000ers w/out O2, first couple to summit together (George and Lakpa). Maxut and Vassilli will complete their project of climbing all 8000ers w/out O2. As well as some other stuff that includes frisbees, golf clubs, hacky sacs, beer bongs, etc.
Positive vibes to all the the folks out there! Check out Fredrik's site for the details on this expedition