K2 Climb 2016

Blog #52 – One Step Closer To Home

Day 52: Mondole Camp 3300m

It’s been a few days since my last blog. I recognise that the minute that a summit attempt is called off, or an expedition is on its homeward bound journey, people tend to stop reading, as the potential excitement wears off. In some ways it’s been a bit of a relief not having to write up my daily diary everyday, but I am conscious that some are still interested.

Of course from our point of view, the moment that we formally brought an end to the mountain part of the expedition, our minds were focused on getting the ‘hell out of Dodge’ as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately nothing is instant out here, and from the moment we called for the porters to come to BC, we knew that it would take them four days to reach us. Whilst it was frustrating to feel like we were hanging around in BC for this time (especially as other teams were departing and starting their journey home), there was still plenty to do.

The mountain had to be cleared of all of our equipment: our oxygen just below C3 (which had survived the avalanche), five tents from ABC, C1 and C2, and our personal kit in those camps. The Sherpas and HAPs did a great job of clearing a lot of the kit off the mountain. Of course there was some irony in the fact that the Sherpas had said that they wouldn’t go back on the mountain to support a summit attempt, but helping clearing the mountain of kit is very much part of their role, and they couldn’t easily refuse that.

Our estimation of fifty-two porter loads was pretty close by the time that we’d bagged up and sorted the kit into 25kg loads. In the end, only nine actual porters arrived, but they came with a number of mules (and a single small grey donkey), which would carry the majority of the kit.

We departed an empty BC early in the morning on the 30th August. With the departure of the other teams, the old tent platforms gave the BC strip the look of a Machu Pichu style ancient settlement, with odd man-made structures dotted along its length.

The sky was clear on the morning of departure: it was as though the mountain had come out specially to bid us fairwell. I must admit that as I left BC and started walking down towards Concordia, I hardly turned around to look at the mountain which had been the sole focus of our attention for the previous seven weeks. By the time we reached Concordia, where we stopped for a quick lunch, the top had been obscured by clouds and it disappeared out of view quietly as we continued down the Baltoro.

We reached Goro 2 that night, and had to sit on the glacial moraine in the cold wind for four hours waiting for our porters and mules to catch up with us – and it was past dark by the time we got any hot water and food. We collapsed into bed exhausted after our long day’s trek.

The next day we hiked down to Khubursay, which was a camp we’d only stopped for lunch in on the way up. It was here we caught up with a British KE trekking group who’d been up to Concordia and were now returning, as well as crossing paths (for the night) with another Adventure Peaks group who were doing a trek to K2 BC. It was great to meet the team (of twelve), but there was a huge juxtaposition between the fresh Trekkers who’d only been walking and sleeping under canvas for a few nights, and us long-bearded (three out of four!) mountain Wildlings, who’d been away from civilisation for seven weeks and couldn’t get out of there quick enough – dreams of proper beds, sit loos and hot showers at the forefront of our minds! They were still washing after a day’s trekking – we were caked in sweat and dust, had been living and sleeping in the same clothes for weeks and couldn’t care less!

Today we trekked down to Mondole Camp (3300m), a camp between Paiju and Jola, which again we’d stopped for lunch on our way up. It’s great to finally step off the glacier, although we are now contending with the heat and dust, and be walking amongst (some) greenery – the wild lavender, shrubs and alpine flowers. Whilst we are definitely not frolicking in grassy alpine meadows, the change in scenery has been very welcome. The other treat which we’ve been experiencing for the past couple of days, is the ability to buy bottles of Coke and Mountain Dew in the camps, it seems that at each camp the price drops by about a dollar per bottle, but we’re still each buying a 1.5l bottle for lunch, and also sharing a couple of bottles in the evening – the cold sugary nectar is (an expensive, but well worth it) God-send!

Tonight is our last night under canvass (something that I’m not going to miss for a while!), and tomorrow we trek to Askole and the jeeps to take us back to Skardu. All things being good, we’ll be back in the hotel in Skardu by 10pm tomorrow night.

We’ve been trekking long distances each day, in an effort to get out as quickly as possible. I for one am certainly feeling it in my feet and legs, but it will be well worth it when we reach those jeeps tomorrow afternoon. It finally feels like we’re getting a little closer to home.

 

Jake Meyer 2016 K2 Expedition fundraising in support of Walking With The Wounded

www.k22016.com @k2climb2016 @jakeclimber Youtube: K2climb2016

Sponsored by:

The Inspirational Development Group, Patron Capital Partners, The Thomson Fraser Group, The Bremont Watch Company, Arqiva, Cotswold Barristers

Supported by:

Snow and Rock, Mountain Hardwear, Wessex RFCA, The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Yeomanry Association

Please note, that Jake’s comments are his alone (as are his spelling and grammar mistakes and poor jokes), and do not represent the views of any of the Sponsors, Expedition affiliates or Expedition Team Members. All praise/complaints to Jake on his safe return.

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Jake’s Blog: Q&A

Just before he left to make his summit attempt, we put to Jake some questions that had been sent in for him via Twitter, Facebook and the K2 2016 newsletter.

Jake’s Blog #34: Back at BC, waiting for a window

Day 34 – Basecamp Rest Day, 5000m

The weather report says that summit winds are 75 knots today. However galling it was to have to come all the way back down the mountain, we definitely made the right decision.

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