K2 Climb 2016
Blog #36 & 37 – “Regardless of how well prepared you are, there really are no guarantees”
Day 36 & 37: Basecamp 5000m
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It’s been a pretty miserable weekend, weather-wise, with the temperature hovering around zero during the day, and therefore alternating between rain and snow. Saturday was a complete washout with rain most of the day, whereas Sunday had a little bit more snow. Either way, regardless of what sort of precipitation we were experiencing down in BC, it invariably meant plenty of snow higher on the mountain.
On the lower slopes, this would be good, as when we came down from our last rotation, there was so little snow, that we were either rappelling down rock or sheet ice. Higher on the mountain however we could do without too much more snow, both from avalanche risk, but also the strenuous and exhausting requirement to break trail. In 2009, the main reason that no one summited is that there was too much snow high on the mountain, and it was too tiring for those climbers who were able to make a concerted summit attempt to break trail.
Given that since the mid 1980s (when expeditions to K2 started to become annual), there have been zero summits on something like 40% of the seasons, you can’t guarantee anything. Last year (2015) there were no summits because of weather – I’d like to think that this year we stand a chance, but there are many examples of multiple years without summits. This is one of the things that can be so frustrating about these kind of big expeditions, and K2 especially, is that regardless of how well prepared you are (as an individual, team, or group of teams), and regardless of how the early part of the season goes (with your various trips up the mountain, rotations and acclimatisation), there really are no guarantees.
It’s easy for us sitting in BC for days on end to start to lose faith in the weather, and our chances of getting up this beast. After a couple of days down from a rotation, these are no longer really ‘rest days’ but more enforced ‘weather days’ – purely waiting for the weather gods to do their thing and to then move aside and allow the winds to drop so that we can have another run at it.
The good news is that it looks like there is a window on the horizon (in a few days time). The bad news is that we’ve got another couple of days of snow before then – which in itself causes problems and doesn’t necessarily mean we can charge up the hill the minute the snow stops. We have at least one ‘semi-seriously’ injured climber in another team, who has been waiting for a helicopter to evacuate him (due to a back injury sustained in a fall last week) for five days now – and it looks like it might be another couple of days before the weather clears up enough for the choppers to get him out.
In terms of our news, not a huge amount to report. Saturday was spent entirely in the ops tent, reading, playing cards, listening to the rain on the canvas. Sunday was slightly more interesting, as we were invited to a ‘movie night’ (well, late afternoon anyway) up in Vanessa’s camp. Di, Phurba, Pete and I went over to watch ‘Meru’ which is a climbing film (how appropriate I hear you say!). It’s a beautiful film, and it was a really fun afternoon. Vanessa laid on a wonderful spread of treats (Oreos, skittles, popcorn etc), and it was nice to have some different food.
Once we’d finished the film and chewed the fat with her for a bit, we had to high-tail it back down to our camp, as we were entertaining others for dinner. We had Serge and Ben from the French-Canadian Team over for dinner, which was great fun. We’ve become very close to them (we met them in Skardu, they are camped next door to us, and we share a Liaison Officer – Lt Fahad), so we see them regularly, but it was nice to formally have them over for dinner. They took the idea of ‘bring a bottle’ to a brilliant extreme and brought along a bottle of propane and a heater – which was a real treat (we have a propane light, but not a heater in our mess tent), so we had a lovely toasty evening.
So a particularly social Sunday afternoon, their weather forecast seems to tally with ours about a potential window later this week – fingers crossed!
Jake Meyer 2016 K2 Expedition fundraising in support of Walking With The Wounded
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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Although the summit attempt is over, there is still a challenge ahead: getting everything and everyone safely off the mountain…
It is with deep regret that Jake announces that the expedition is over, and the UK team will be heading home.
The Savage Mountain maintains its reputation, as Jake and the team’s worst fears are confirmed as they reach Camp 3.
In wild and windy conditions, Jake bravely leaves Camp 2 and battles his way up the mountain.
Jake’s summit attempt begins, and he is joined by an enjoyable partner – clear skies and warm sunshine!
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.
Day 40: Basecamp 5000m… but not for long!
Clear blue skies and an encouraging weather forecast mean that Jake and the team are making their final preparations for their attempt to reach the summit of K2!
Day 38 & 39: Basecamp 5000m
With the day of the summit attempt just round the corner, the team enjoy some birthday cake before the final dramatic push begins!
Day 35: Basecamp 5000m
Jake has gone from the visceral thrill of climbing up to 7300m, to getting excited about KitKats and margerita-flavoured jelly shots…
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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