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

2008 K2 and Broad Peak Expedition

Dispatch Thirteen: June 11th, 2008

Day Thirteen: Skardu to Askole; Landslides, Injuries

Today, we woke up at seven, gathered our bags, had a quick breakfast, and waited around for 45 minutes for our jeeps to arrive and get loaded up. We left around 8:45am, expecting a pleasant four hour journey to our lunch break and then another two to Askole. The ride began well; our driver moving at a good pace, and we arrived at the K2 Inn Hotel and Restaurant at 1:00pm. I was delighted to see my Italian friends from multiple expeditions in Pakistan at the restaurant (they were the Italian GI and GII Expedition led by Gloria Brighena). We caught up for awhile and were pleased to discover that we were on the same trekking schedule, so we would be able to visit a few more times before we parted ways at Concordia. After lunch, we piled back into the cramped jeep we were given by ATP, and continued for about 20 minutes. This is when we discovered that there was a huge landslide that had and was continuing to eat away at the already narrow road. The rock falls continued, beginning every two minutes or so, and not showing any sign of stopping anytime soon. We finally decided to risk it, and we crossed the section on foot and watched anxiously as our jeeps navigated the narrow road, keeping our fingers crossed that another rockfall would not begin while the jeeps were in harms way. After about two hours stopped, we were finally on our way, with all the jeeps accounted for. But it was only about another hour when we again discovered to our horror, that what probably was in the past, a small creek, had turned into a raging torrent of fast-moving water carrying huge stones with it. As we surveyed the road, the newly formed river swelled and broke through another part of the road. We scuttled away, and luckily escaped injury. We decided that it would be best to spend the night in the village before the flooded road and wait till early morning, when the river would be at its calmest before attempting to cross it. We returned, but about fifteen minutes later, discovered that ATP had sent up our cook tent as well as the kerosene we would need to stay the night. Our trekking “guide” returned with this news and told us that the porters had already crossed the new river with all our equipment (so we were kind of bullied into continuing based solely on that fact). I held back my objections, knowing full well, that complaining would get me nowhere at this point, and began the short walk to the flood. When we arrived, the water had not calmed down, but had resumed its original trajectory, and therefore was more narrow. We began to cross, first Ali and Karim (Hughes’ High Altitude Porters), then Hughes, then I began to cross. It was quite precarious and I was a bit uncomfortable taking these kind of risks this early in the expedition, but I continued. It turns out my gut feeling was correct, on the last jump, the rock that I landed on collapsed under my weight, and I went crashing into the water, bashing my knee on the other jagged rocks. I got up, soaked, and began climbing out of the channel, when the dirt I was standing on collapsed. I grabbed Ali’s hand, but not before I scraped my forearms quite badly on the side. I sat down when I was safely away from the river, and examined my knee, as there was blood on my pants, and I knew I had hit it quite hard, as it had torn through my pants. I had a lump the size of a walnut just below my kneecap. Again, I knew it was useless to bring up how stupid the idea of continuing on to Askole on foot in the heat of the late afternoon was, so I just continued to walk. A few minutes later, we stumbled upon another creek, swollen beyond recognition with rain water from the previous week. We managed to cross this one more easily (despite my knee throbbing with every jump). Another two or three minutes into the walk, there was yet another washout (this one carving a deep, narrow chasm, making the crossing very difficult. I again managed to fall into the water, but this time it wasn’t serious. I completed the hour long walk at a very fast pace (knowing full well that if I stopped, the swelling would get worse, and it would be hard for me to begin walking again. I finally arrived at Askole, sent a message to the Italians saying that it was a wise decision to stay in the village before the washout and tackle the river crossings early in the morning. Needless to say, this was not the start to my expedition that I had in mind, and I hope that the injuries I have inflicted to my knee aren’t too serious. Tomorrow, we plan on going to Jhula (that is if my knee permits me).