Thursday, August 28, 2008

Green Pastures

It’s probably the last update from Dave Watson and his K2 Tall Mountain teammates until they’re back stateside, but here’s one more as the trip winds down.

Excerpt from the K2 Tall Mountain post:
Picture them soaking their feet in a stream and surrounded by grass and flowers. They have hiked 20-25 miles, gone over a 18,368-foot pass to the next valley, and descended a thousand meters to Khuispan near the base of Laila peak. They are enjoying the view of a 55-60 degree snow slope on the peak and a horse grazing in the camp…

…They left Ali camp at about 3am to go over the pass and descended to Khuispan, which is at an altitude of 15,472 feet, the lowest they have been in months. The trail over the pass was in good shape and they had no difficulties…

For more dispatches and info, see all the K2 Tall Mountain posts here or visit the K2 Tall Mountain site.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Final Attempt

Summer vacation brought a little radio silence on our end last week, but we’re back with last updates from Dave Watson and his K2 Tall Mountain teammates. They’ve committed a ton of time, energy and resources into the trip, but it’s coming to a close. The summits have been tantalizingly close and frequently unreachable, but few understand better than Dave that the experience comes from the entire journey and not just the attainability of the top.

Excerpt from the K2 Tall Mountain post:
Chuck and Dave left base camp today after a final reconnaissance of the Abruzzi Ridge from Advanced Base Camp and getting another weather forecast. The weather conditions have been severe, and they decided that the potential weather window of three days with another storm coming in on the fourth day would not be safe or sufficient for one last attempt at the summit. They would need a minimum of three clear days with a couple medium days on either side to consider climbing higher.

They headed out with a plan to hike over the Gondogoro La to Hushe, which translates to hiking over a high alpine pass to the next valley and the village of Hushe. This is a different hike out than the way they went in. Hushe is the village where most of their local support team and many of the porters live, and they have been invited to visit with them in their homes…

For more dispatches and info, see all the K2 Tall Mountain posts here or visit the K2 Tall Mountain site.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Summer Dreams

Word from Vermont is that it’s been a stormy summer, with a seemingly endless stream of thunderstorms saturating the ground and overflowing the riverbanks. Among the skiers, it’s hard not to think about the rainfall amounts and daydream about that kind of accumulation in winter. Photographer Brian Mohr dropped us a line yesterday about his recent dreams:

I don't know if it's because we haven't skied in nearly two months, or if it's because the leaves are just beginning to show the earliest signs of fall color, but for some reason, we've been dreaming. Dreaming of going back to East Greenland, climbing away from our seashore camp, skiing from summit to sea, and catching fresh fish for dinner...

(Sea to ski in Greenland. All photos courtesy of

(Fresh catch for dinner)

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Combining Resources

K2 seems to be a quiet place these days, as everyone winds down from the tragic accident a few weeks ago. Once again, Dave Watson and his K2 Tall Mountain teammates are waiting for a weather window to go higher up and assess the conditions and necessary repair work. They called into KSL’s Utah Outdoors radio show again over the weekend, and the podcast is up online here:

Excerpt from the K2 Tall Mountain post:
The team is waiting impatiently for a weather window, again. K2 Base Camp is deserted with only this team, Sunny Mountain Chogori Expedition (George Dijmarescu and his two sherpas) and Mike Farris, one of the leaders of the Altitude Experience team, remaining. There is a snowstorm underway today, but the team is hoping to get a couple of clear days to go up to Camp 2 or 3 before the weather forecasts predict more unsettle weather. They plan to bring down some of the trash that was left on the mountain. They are looking for a minimum of three days of good weather to make a summit attempt…

…The team will need to take about 500m of rope up the mountain to fix the ropes that were taken out by the ice fall. They are still planning to take their own oxygen up the mountain to ensure they have an adequate supply, although it is rumored that oxygen tanks were left on the mountain. There was a lot of equipment left on the mountain as many teams left in a hurry after the incident. There have also been high winds for the last few days, so it’s hard to guess at what may or may not be left on the mountain and what the condition and stability of the snowpack is higher up.

For more dispatches and info, see all the K2 Tall Mountain posts here or visit the K2 Tall Mountain site.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Continuing Rescue Operations on K2

Dave Watson and his K2 Tall Mountain teammates have made their way over to the K2 base camp and spent much of the week assisting with ongoing rescue operations for climbers stranded in the accident over the weekend. We’re awaiting word on how this and conditions on the mountain will affect continued climbing, but the loss of so many climbers was certainly weighing heavily on their minds:

Excerpt from the K2 Tall Mountain post:
The Tall Mountain team is at K2 base camp helping out however they can. Chuck led the effort to prepare the landing zone for the two helicopters that have taken climbers to Islamabad hospitals. A third helicopter was planned for the injured Italian climber on the mountain, but it was cancelled due to bad weather in the helicopter departure zone…

The recent accidents on K2 echo the tragic 1986 season when 27 climbers summitted the peak, but 13 mountaineers lost their lives on the mountain. It appears that weather, objective hazards, snow conditions and human judgments all played a part, and the incident will no doubt be super-analyzed in the months and years to come. Meanwhile, everyone is doing what they can to help those in distress.

Chuck reports that he is feeling good again and seems to be over the virus he had. It slowed him down, but he still managed to help shovel gravel to prepare the helicopter landing zone and help out around base camp. He just didn’t feel well enough to go to a higher altitude. Andy and Dave have been helping out where needed at base camp and talking to lots of different people and getting multiple angles on what has happened on the mountain. They also managed to set up a shower tent and get their first shower in over a week. Chuck said that by the time he got to shower, the sun was going down, it was getting cold, the water was lukewarm and he was standing on a block of ice – but it still felt great! It’s all relative…

Overall, K2 base camp is not a cheery place right now. Many teams are trying to get porters arranged so the expeditions can leave and head for home. The weather forecast is for changing weather, so the future plans are back in Mother Nature’s hands. The team is planning to get some rest while the weather is unsettled and then move on to the mountain when the opportunity presents itself.

For more dispatches and info, see all the K2 Tall Mountain posts here or visit the K2 Tall Mountain site.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Ok and Onward to K2

Just a quick update this afternoon to let everyone know that Dave Watson and his K2 Tall Mountain teammates are okay after the accident on K2 this weekend. The first reports were unsubstantiated, and it appears that it will take a few days to sort out the toll of a serac fall that took out fixed ropes high on the mountain, stranding climbers (>info here). Our condolences go out to the teammates, friends, and families of the climbers lost on K2 over the weekend, and we’re wishing safe passage for those still on and around the mountain.

During the accident, the K2 Tall Mountain Team was still in the Broad Peak area, getting ready to move over to K2. They didn’t get the summit, but the K2 Tall Mountain Team has deemed their time on Broad Peak a success. As they sort through the situation on K2, they will assess further plans. Here’s what they had to say on the blog yesterday:

Excerpt from K2 Tall Mountain:
The team is finished with the Broad Peak ‘warm up’ climb. Overall, the team is having a good experience all around. Andy reached a new personal high altitude record, and Dave had some good skiing from an altitude of 7500 meters. The team is a bit disappointed that they didn’t get the summit, but they are comfortable that they made the right decisions to turn around when they did. They have worked out the details of what they need to do as a team of three and are a cohesive team ready for the challenge of K2…

There is more snow on K2 and there are routes on the mountain with fixed ropes. The team will assess the route options more closely once they are in base camp and can get information from other expeditions. Dave would like to climb the route that he is planning to ski so he can get a preview of the terrain and conditions. We will provide more information about the tragedy that occurred on K2 this weekend when the facts can be substantiated.

For more dispatches and info, see all the K2 Tall Mountain posts here or visit the K2 Tall Mountain site.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Waiting It Out at Broad Peak Base

Another dispatch from the K2 Tall Mountain trip with Karhu ambassador Dave Watson, getting ready for a summit attempt on 7/31...

It has been just about two weeks of bad weather here on the glacier. We have been stuck in base camp (BC), going for walks either up to K2 BC to hang out, or down towards Concordia to visit some of the other teams camped lower than us.

We have established camp three on Broad Peak at 7,100m and are ready for the summit push. We called Jim for a weather report, and were told that the weather would start to clear today, the 28th, but there would still be strong winds. Starting on the 29th, a large high- pressure system would move in with good weather for at least five days!

Some teams have left already, but we can see that they are battling rough conditions. We will head up tomorrow, as well as several other teams, for Camp 2. If all goes well, we expect to summit on 7/31. All the cameras are charged, and our packs are ready. Good rest today, then the work beings.

Hope all is well with everyone back home.


For more dispatches and info, see all the K2 Tall Mountain posts here or visit the K2 Tall Mountain site.

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