K2 Expedition 2018

Jake’s K2 Blog #12: C3 or not C3?

Location: Basecamp

Having hardly been able to see our hands in front of our faces for the past 4 days, imagine our surprise and excitement when we woke this morning to find that the cloud had lifted. Whilst is wasn’t a completely clear sky, we could clearly see the summits of both K2 and Broad Peak, as well as a number of other mountains all around us. Even though our clear view of our targets only lasted around 30 minutes, it was enough to put a smile on everyone’s faces! Cameras came out to capture the moment, and maps to identify unknown peaks.

Even as the cloud enveloped us again, it was clear that it was low and thin, as the sun was baking hot, even though we couldn’t see it. In these circumstances, the environment becomes a complete juxtaposition – cold snow on the ground, but the air temperature is up around 30 degrees C. As a result, I’ve been in shorts and t-shirt most of the day (although doing my best not to get burnt). When it’s like this (and you’re not climbing), you make the most of the warmth – to wash oneself, clothes, dry out anything that might be wet or damp and soak up some rays.

Our first (up close) view of the summit of K2 from our BC.

Our first (up close) view of the summit of K2 from our BC.

I went for a walk up to K2 basecamp (the main one), which took me exactly 30 minutes tent to tent. It was a great opportunity to stretch the legs, as well as catch up with old friends – specifically Serge (French Canadian Team), Garrett (Maddison – leading a team of 13 members and 13 Sherpas), and the guys and girls from the 7 Summits Team.

There are conflicting reports about how far the rope on K2 has actually been fixed by the Japanese – we’d initially thought that they’d reached C3 (7300m), but it now sounds like they’ve called Advanced Basecamp (ABC) Camp 1, and therefore ‘their C3’ is actually C2 (6700m). It also sounds like they might not have even fixed House’s Chimney (just below C2), but we’re not entirely sure about what has or hasn’t been achieved.

Serge and his team have only had one short rotation (1 night in C1 (6000m)) in the past 9 days – which gives an indication of how bad the weather has been. There certainly seems to be frustration on BC from the teams who’ve been here for some time. The rest of the teams (including us) have only really arrived in the past 3-4 days, so we’re still happily sorting ourselves out – but it won’t take long until we’re itching to get on the hill.

Our camp amidst the glacier, with Broad Peak behind us. The summit is actually the furthest right hand Peak. On the far left is the start of the Abruzzi ridge on K2.

Our camp amidst the glacier, with Broad Peak behind us. The summit is actually the furthest right hand Peak. On the far left is the start of the Abruzzi ridge on K2.

My visit to the 7 Summits Team included a mug of red wine from Noel – which was delicious, although it did seem to go straight to my head! On my way back down to our camp, I came across the remains of an old (destroyed) mess tent. I helped myself to 4 of the long metal poles (as the Sherpas wanted something to hold up their prayer flags when we have our Puja ceremony). What also caught my eye, was a sheet of plywood, which had been part of a box – on the front of it was a packing note addressed to my team from 2016! It was from one of the boxes that our oxygen had been freighted in! I suspect that someone had used it as a table top last season – but it was very strange and nostalgic to see Dihanne Gilbert’s name on a random piece of wood here!

Back in our Basecamp, we had a delicious lunch of samosas, soup and pizza, with tinned peaches for pudding. This afternoon the weather has closed in again, although thankfully no snow yet – so I’ve mainly stayed in the dome tent – reading, working my way through a book of sudoku and playing cards with Bond and our Liaison Officer, Zaid.

The temperature is starting to drop now (1730), and even the greenhouse effect of the dome tent is losing its appeal, so I’m going to retire to my personal tent for a couple of hours before supper (which is at 1930). Tomorrow we plan to have our Puja Ceremony, and also a chance to get out on the glacier in our kit – to try and remember how to walk/climb without tripping over, or stabbing ourselves in the ankles with our crampons.

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