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

2008 K2 and Broad Peak Expedition

Dispatch Thirty-one: June 30th, 2008

Day Thirty-one: Climbing Politics Take over K2 Base Camp

This morning, after a pleasant breakfast with the French, we were bombarded with a large majority of the Norit Expedition. They had with them 400 meters of 8mm rope. Wilco asked Hugues to get Qudrat and Karim so he could “tell” them to carry the rope up to past Camp III and then fix the remaining slopes to the shoulder for his team so that they could save their strength and attempt the summit. Wilco made numerous references in a negative light regarding individual climbers. He inferred that they were unable to carry their own tent and fuel to the higher camps, and would simply find an empty tent from a large commercial expedition, get inside, use their fuel and food and continue up. I resent this statement, as I carry more than double the weight of any of their members, and have never and will never use anything that isn’t mine that I don’t have express permission from the owner to use. I also found the inferences ironic, as Wilco himself had come to use the resources of Hugues (an individual climber) in order to facilitate his own team’s summit push. After charging Hugues and I $500.00 each to use the fixed lines on the Cesan route, he was now telling Hugues’ high altitude porters to carry and fix the remaining rope to the shoulder of K2. This would allow his team members to save their strength to continue onto the summit, however would exhaust Qudrat and Karim and leave them weak for Hugues’ summit push in a few weeks. This I find extremely selfish and hypocritical, as he resents ill prepared individual climbers who use the resources of commercial groups to get to the summit, yet he is willing to exploit individual climbers for his commercial group’s gain. Also, he has mandated that climbers on the Cesan route who use his fixed rope pay $500.00 each when in 2006, after Qudrat and Karim fixed the Abruzzi route all the way to Camp III, he offered (on behalf of an 18 member Field Touring Alpine expedition) a grand total of $100.00 to cover the cost of the fixed lines and the labor of putting them up. People like him widen the rift between independent climbers and big commercial expeditions. They accredit solo climbers with apathy and inexperience. After this discussion was finished, and the Dutch returned to their camp, the French returned for lunch, and then Badia and Mauricio showed up for their promised visit. We all had lunch together with Dodo, and Patrick showed off his fluent Spanish that he picked up in South America. We chatted for awhile in Spanish, and after lunch, I helped Badia and Mauricio with their solar panel charging system. Their charge controller was not allowing any voltage through, so I gave them my spare and taught them how to hook it up in their base camp (without any of the proper connections). While I was trimming wires, Wilco returned again to our camp with his version of the weather report and insisted that it was necessary to leave tomorrow for camp II even though we had had extremely heavy snowfall for the last few days, and Hugues, Qudrat, Karim and I all thought it wise to wait a day and allow the new snow to either settle or avalanche. For us, since we lacked proper acclimatization for a summit push, it made no sense to rush things and take additional risks. He became quite abrasive after we asserted this fact, accusing us of being lazy, and sitting in base camp while they fixed all the way to the summit. We insisted that it wasn’t our fault that they had decided to arrive at base camp a month before us and that they couldn’t expect any of us to be properly acclimatized in order to be able to help them fix lines above camp III to the shoulder. Qudrat and Karim still offered to carry to Camp III for them, but only after waiting a day for the snow to settle. Wilco wouldn’t have it. He accused us of being irresponsible, took no responsibility for “sitting back and allowing others to fix the route” in 2006, and finally stormed out. The four of us chatted about how to proceed; whether to change routes and take the Abruzzi, as who knows what Wilco might do to the fixed ropes after his team is finished with them now that he is so bitter about our decision to wait a day for the slopes to stabilize. We will not make any hasty decisions but at the moment, it is still possible to change routes with a minimal amount of gear up high on the mountain. After all this was over, we chatted some more with our Mexican friends, finished charging their electronics with the generator, had coffees, and said our goodbyes for now. Hugues and I worked on our messages to family, and then we had a pleasant dinner.