Text Box: Nicholas Rice
Extreme High Altitude Athlete
Text Box: Xpedition 8000

2007 Broad Peak Expedition

Dispatch Thirty-Seven: July 16th, 2007

Day Thirty-Seven: Missing Climber, Dirk Grunert Back in Base Camp

Today, we woke up at 8:00am, had our breakfast, again preoccupied with Dirk’s condition on the upper slopes of Broad Peak. Afterwards, Bill, Badia, and I went down to Gerlinde Haltenbruner’s camp and talked with her about what she had observed of Dirk during her summit bid. We discovered that he had lost his pack on the way up but had decided to continue despite this (a decision few mountaineers would make). Additionally, she said that she had offered him food or water, but he had refused, saying that he had all the food and water he needed in his down suit. After taking some photos for him on the summit, she said that he departed before her and Ralf, however, he sat down on a rock before the fore summit and when asked what was wrong, he stated that he was just cold. As her hands were quite cold as well, and moving is the best way to warm them up, she continued down, encouraging him to start moving. That was the last she had seen of him. After saying our goodbye’s as Gerlinde departed for K2, we started the long walk up to the Italian’s camp, as one of their members had just arrived from Camp III and had said that he believed that a German in a small tent similar to Dirk’s was at Camp III. We accepted this glimmer of hope, knowing full well that with the breaks in the weather, if Dirk was able, he would have taken those opportunities to come down to Camp II or Base Camp. We returned to our camp for lunch, worked on our computers for awhile, and had showers so we would be fresh for our summit bid. After this, I had the grim responsibility of cataloging all of Dirk’s possessions, so we would know if someone who had heard that he was not returning had taken the opportunity to steal his things. When this was finished, I returned to my tent to finalize the contents of my load for the morning, when I was called down to the mess tent by our cook. When I arrived, he informed me that one of the other high altitude porters who had just arrived was descending with a German climber. This turned out to be Dirk. He in fact had slept in the day after summiting, and when he awoke, the weather was quite bad, so instead of waiting for a lull in the weather, he decided to spend another night at Camp III. After this he again awoke to bad visibility and yet again stayed the night. The following day, he descended to Camp II and spent the night there as well. From there, he finally descended to Base Camp. All the members were quite upset that he had chosen this very strange descent plan and allowed us to become convinced of his demise. All climbers at Base Camp agree that the stay at Camp III at 7,200 meters is something that should be kept to a minimum, however, Dirk seemed to disagree staying there for three nights; normally a recipe for a climber to develop high altitude cerebral edema (HACE), a condition where fluids build up around the brain and swelling occurs, causing altered mental state and poor judgment. But in the end, I am glad that Dirk made it down safely, even if his decisions caused the entire group to suffer emotionally in the mean time. After Dirk’s arrival, we had dinner, finished organizing our packs, and went to bed in a very blustery base camp. 

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