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

2008 K2 and Broad Peak Expedition

Dispatch Forty-seven: July 16th, 2008

Day Forty-seven: Climb to Camp II; Enormous Avalanche on Cesan

Today, we woke up at 5:00am, packed up our things, and left base camp at 6:00am (Hugues left at 5:30am). The morning was calm and clear, and we reached the base of the route in approximately 45 minutes. The route was visibly deteriorated, with ice and rock replacing the white snow that we had seen the last time we had climbed to Camp II. About an hour up the route, an enormous avalanche swept down the slope next to us. I began filming it as I thought that it was contained on the adjacent slope. I quickly realized I was wrong as one enormous cloud of snow, ice, and rock blasted toward me. I threw myself into the slope in order to shield my face from the ice and rock, and covered my mouth and nose with my buff. Luckily I was secured into the fixed lines with my jumar, so I was secure on the route. The blast hit with enormous force, pelting me continuously for at least two minutes. The cloud blackened out the sun, and every time I looked up to see if it had finished, I was hit by yet another cloud of rock and ice. After it finally subsided, I gathered myself, tried without success to rid myself of the layer of snow that had covered me, and continued for a couple minutes until I reached an icy rock that was flat enough for me to put down my pack and get the snow out of everything (it had managed to stuff itself in every nook and cranny on my pack, in my jacket, in my gaiters, etc). After this was finished, I noticed that I was feeling a bit nauseous. A few of the rocks that hit my helmet were quite large and were travelling quite fast. They had managed to crack my helmet in five separate places. Thank goodness I was wearing it. I figured that the impact of one of one of the larger stones had managed to give me a very minor concussion (hence my nausea). I continued on to Camp I where I saw Karim, Qudrat, and Hugues (they were all alright, and since they had been higher on the route, had only been dusted with snow). They continued on while I traded a few items in my pack with the items I had cached in Camp I. I finally left for Camp II at 12:00pm. Knowing the route really allows you to pace yourself more effectively, and I arrived at Camp II at 1:45pm (despite my nausea and sore neck). I joined Qudrat and Karim in the tent and showed them the film I had taken of the avalanche. They too had filmed it, thinking that they were safe from its deadly blast. We all had some soup, hydrated, then I decided to head over to my tent to organize my things before the heat of the day yielded to a cold gusty evening. My tent platform had melted quite badly, and some snow had accumulated and been packed by the wind on one corner of the tent. Since our shovel was at Camp III, I decided to just leave it and try to get some sleep; a decision I was going to regret. I snacked a bit in my tent and then fell asleep. Around 10:00pm, I awoke with a terrible pain in my neck (I presume from the stones hitting my helmet). All night I attempted to adjust my position to support my neck, but to no avail. I hardly slept at all.


In Photos:

Left: The route to Camp I just after the avalanche cloud cleared

Right: The route a half hour out of Camp II; the serac that broke off and started the avalanche is visible in the upper right of the frame.