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

2008 K2 and Broad Peak Expedition

Dispatch Forty-six: July 15th, 2008

Day Forty-six: Narrow Escape from Huge Avalanche on Cesan Route

Today, after waking up at 4:00am, in clear calm weather, and deciding that we would indeed climb to Camp II (but thanks to my aversion to early starts, we would wait to begin until 6:00am rather than the usual 5:00am departure), we rolled over for our final hour of sleep. We again awoke at 5:00am and began to ready our backpacks. As we were preparing to leave, we heard a loud noise, and looked out of our tents to witness a huge avalanche pouring down the Cesan route blasting the base of the route, crossing the valley between Broad Peak and K2, and actually going up Broad Peak’s lower slopes. If we had been climbing on the route (which we would have had we left at 5:00am) we would have surely suffered serious injuries if not worse. We finally decided to postpone our climb till tomorrow and allow the newly fallen snow to settle on the route. This turned out to also be a wise decision as the route avalanched again around 7:00am (this avalanche considerably smaller than the one we had seen earlier). We woke up around 8:00am, and had breakfast outside with the three French. Peter Guggemos is still presumably “acclimatizing” for his third day at Camp II on the Abruzzi Route (he has spent two nights at Camp I and another two in Camp II; in poor weather might I add. He sent his high altitude porter down to base camp while he continued to remain at Camp II). Although we have no communication with Peter, we expect to see him in Base Camp later today. After breakfast, Hugues and I checked our mail on his computer and then got to writing our dispatches and reading in our tents. We are quite eager to climb again after spending such an extended period of time in Base Camp. I sent an email to Alex Gavan on the Italian Gasherbrum I and II Expedition to check in on them, as we hadn’t heard any news from them over Thuraya in around two weeks. They are at Camp I on GII on their summit push. We wish them luck and hope that our forecast of extremely high winds around 8000 meters is unique to K2. Also, Badia and Mauricio are considering leaving relatively soon for their summit push on Broad Peak. I hope that the mountain is not too crowded when they leave for Camp I, as the rock fall danger is evident even from K2 (with binoculars; as we can see the tracks that rocks have left on the route below Camp I). In the afternoon, I did some laundry, and after lunch, Hugues and I went up to the Singaporean Camp to pay Robert a visit. The early evening routine of sending news and mail, charging all our tech equipment, and sifting through photos recurred yet again today. Tomorrow, we plan on a 6:00am departure from Base Camp to climb to Camp II. We will sleep there (winds will be around 30km/hr) and the following day, we will climb to Camp III with a replacement tent, touch Camp III, and then return to Base Camp the same day (the following day, winds at Camp III are forecast to be 50km/hr). The forecast at the moment is quite grim with winds on the summit reaching 120km/hr; definitely not within acceptable parameters for a summit push. Everyone at base camp (who is sufficiently acclimatized for a summit bid) is quite frustrated with the gorgeous weather coupled with the horrendous winds above Camp III. Time is running out for some, and the forecasts are quite discouraging. Hopefully, climbing again high on K2 will lighten our spirits. After lunch, Daniele Nardi (Italy) came to visit us. He was climbing on K2 with Hugues in 2007 on the Abruzzi Spur with a big Italian Expedition. He reached the summit after sleeping only one night in Camp III. I was happy to hear this, as the three French have been telling me over and over that I am not properly acclimatized for an attempt of K2 without oxygen after only having slept in Camp III for one night, yet this is precisely what Daniele did last year. No two people are the same and the body’s response to altitude varies drastically from person to person, but it certainly is encouraging to hear of his success with the same acclimatization schedule, and a lot of high altitude climbing is mental. After speaking for awhile about mutual friends (Mario Panzerri, Mario Merelli, Michele, etc.) in our base camp, we all headed down to Marco Confortola’s base camp to share some Italian coffee and chat a bit with Marco and Angelo. Their forecast is more or less the same as ours, but is a bit more far reaching and gives some news of hope for a summit window opening on the 23rd. We will certainly keep our fingers crossed. After our coffees, Daniele headed back down to Broad Peak base camp. It turns out that he and Mario are sharing my permit on Broad Peak as well so I will have yet another two familiar faces when I finish on K2 and head over to Broad Peak BC. I look forward to sharing the mess tent with these fine climbers. Mario and Daniele have already summitted Nanga Parbat this season (thanks in part to good weather) and now have set their sights on Broad Peak.


In Photos:

Left: Daniele Nardi in K2 Base Camp

Right: The Avalanche of this morning crossing the Austin Godwin Glacier and climbing the lower slopes of Broad Peak (K2 (base of the cesan route) is on the left of the frame and Broad Peak is the slope visible on the right of the frame). The avalanche came from a serac quite close to Camp II.