Monday, June 9, 2008

K2 Tall Mountain Expedition - Preparation

There’s a Karhu banner in our office that reads “Dave Watson, 8848m, 5/20/04, 6:55am,” and it’s a constant reminder that it takes a cool mind to stay safe at high altitude. Karhu Ambassador Dave Watson brought it to the summit of Everest on a successful bid in 2004. Two years later, Dave returned with skis and after summiting again, he made turns down the North Ridge from 7200m. It takes something more than a cool mind to click in and ski at that kind of elevation, dealing with technical skiing, difficult snow, steep angles and such thin air.

After a couple years of planning, Dave is headed back to the Himalaya, with a new goal in mind – a ski descent of Broad Peak and K2 via the South-South-East Spur (Cesen Route). Dave departs next week with a pair of next year’s Spire BCs for turns and the superlight waxless XCD Guide as his summit set-up. We’re bringing you insight into the preparation and how the trip came together, and we’ll continue providing updates through the trip from Dave and crew right here on

(K2 and the Cesen Route. Photo courtesy of Dave Watson.)

Here’s wishing Dave and the rest of the team and safe, sound and successful trip to the top of the world and back.

The time has come, two years in the making. We're leaving to go climb and ski K2. It even sounds ridiculous to me, but I'm still going to do it. I feel like all of my time in the mountains and studying the mountains has led me to this project.

It all started in 2004, climbing Everest with Chuck Boyd. We had a great time hanging out, climbing, skiing. We wanted to do another big trip together, but Chuck’s mountain guiding service (Vertical Realms) doesn’t let him get away as easily as I can. When I returned from another Everest trip in 2006, Chuck and I decided K2 was the next objective. Back then the planning was mostly talk, these days it is pure action – put the money where your mouth is.

Funding, logistics, equipment, food, training… the preparation is a full time job, in addition to other forms of employment and preparing the home team (wife) for a three-month absence. But it's a small sacrifice to make for the opportunity to climb and ski in Pakistan's Karakoram Mountains for a full summer.

The guys are all super stoked and spirits are as high as can be. In addition to Chuck and me, we have Dan McCann and Andy Selters. Dan is a rad guy from Park City, who’s certainly been around – skied Cho Oyu, soloed the Grand Teton, firsts in the Himalaya, classic testpieces in the Alps. I'm psyched to have him as my main ski partner.

Andy is another guy who we are really lucky to have with us. He's been cruising around amongst the greatest mountains and walls on the planet for decades. He has authored books about the history of North American mountaineering, glacier travel and crevasse rescue as well as a guidebook for Mt. Shasta. Andy has guided major expeditions all over the world, and in 1992 he made a serious attempt on the then-virgin summit of Shipton Spire in Pakistan. He climbed with Chuck, and the guys were stormed off within feet of the summit before Chuck went back in ’96 and sent it. Andy has also climbed a first ascent on Trango Tower. With a team like this who wouldn't be stoked.

Our main objective is to safely climb and ski K2 via the South-South-East Spur. This route is a variation of the classic Abruzzi Ridge and is also known as the Cesen Route or Basque Route. The route was chosen for its skiable nature and the possibility that we may be the only team on this line. We also have permission to climb and ski Broad Peak, the 12th-tallest mountain on earth. We plan to do so by the classic West Ridge.

Time is ticking away and next week (June 11) we'll be flying to Islamabad to start the amazing adventure. More to come soon!

For more info visit the expedition site at or stay tuned here on

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Emily said...

Hey best of luck to everyone on the K2 expedition. Everyone here in Park City is so excited and rooting each of you on. We look forward to hearing how it's going. Have the most excellent adventure.

Anonymous said...

Dave! Can't wait to hear about everything when you get back to CT! Best of luck to all!!!