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

2008 K2 and Broad Peak Expedition

Dispatch Fifty-three: July 22nd 2008

Day Fifty-three: Change in Weather Forecast; Summit Window in Sight

Yesterday afternoon, after checking our email, we were shocked when we received the forecast. It spoke of a weather window opening at the end of July; the 29th, 30th, 31st, and 1st. Four days would be perfect for a summit push on our route. Hugues, who had already decided to head down, and whose porters were on their way, was not at all pleased. After reassuring his family and friends that he was finished with K2 and heading home, he now had to decide whether to count on the weather forecast and stay and was faced with the task of breaking the news to his family that he would in fact stay and head up for a summit attempt. I was ecstatic about the news, as I had already decided to stay and extend my flight date for a summit attempt on Broad Peak; K2 would be even better. I told Shaheem Baig that I wanted to keep all my equipment in Camp II and was still intending on trying for a summit bid. During all this commotion, Robert Goh and Edwin from the Abruzzi Singapore Expedition came down to visit. They had just come down from Camp II on the Abruzzi Spur. They had initially intended to go to camp III, but the bad weather and high winds had thwarted this plan. The Singapore Expedition arrived quite late to base camp and therefore has all of August to acclimate and isnít scheduled to depart until the 28th of August. We spoke a bit about the weather and his plans and then suggested that it might be better if we visited tomorrow afternoon, as things were quite hectic with the recent change in all the weather forecasts (the Korean, American and Serbian forecasts all predicted that the window would begin around the same time). We only hope that the forecast will remain the same for the rest of the month. Gerard came up to visit and tried to convince Hugues to stay in Base Camp and go for the summit with the rest of the teams; one complication for Hugues is that Qudrat has another expedition to guide in Shimshal on the 1st of August (something that he had made Hugues aware of prior to the start of the expedition). Therefore, if Hugues decides to wait, he may only have Karim with him on his summit push. However, as everything is already in Camp III prepared for the summit push, having only one high altitude porter wouldnít be such a disadvantage. Hugues has said, for the moment, that he will wait till he receives the next forecast to make a definitive decision; if the weather forecast holds and still predicts the window beginning on the 29th, then he will stay; if the weather forecast changes, and the timing of the start of the window is pushed back, he will head down to Skardu, and move his flight back to France. After talking with Qudrat and Karim for awhile, we headed back to our tents to warm up. The three French had dinner with the Norwegian team so Hugues and I had a quiet dinner with Peter. Afterwards, we headed down to one of the lower camps for a party. This morning, after breakfast, we had a visit from Gerard and Mark from the Norit Expedition. We chatted for awhile about some of the places we have been. Mark told me about the time he walked across Oman, and of his travels to Egypt. After this, we received the updated forecast, which gave even better news. The weather window is predicted to stay open till around the 5th of August.† This gives us ample time to allow avalanches to clear prior to starting up for Camp II on the Cesan Route. Even today, we saw a relatively large avalanche pour down the base of our route. The snow is predicted to continue until the start of the weather window, so we will have to wait a bit for the route to settle and clear before beginning our summit bid. After lunch, Mark visited again. He had some problems with his camera battery, which he had charged directly from a solar panel (no diode protection, and no charge controller). The battery was discharging rapidly and I explained that since energy will travel from where there is more to where there is less (unless the circuit is protected with a diode, which regulates the direction of the current), his battery probably was charging for a time, however, when the weather got bad, and the output of the solar panel dropped, the current reversed directions and the energy from his battery discharged into the solar panel and dissipated as heat energy. I explained all the elements that were necessary in order to safely utilize a solar panel to charge expensive technical equipment without ruining the batteries or blowing out fuses in the charge adaptors (basically, you need a solar panel plugged into a solar charge controller, plugged into a 12V rechargeable battery, plugged again into the solar charge controller, with a load output that is regulated in order to protect the battery from discharging completely). Thankfully, Hugues has the same camera, and loaned Mark a battery until we can get his properly charged, and make sure that the cells havenít been damaged by the rapid discharge. Moving on, it seems that the three French are inclined, despite the good weather forecast and long weather window, to head down as soon as tomorrow (they hope by the Gondogoro La). They had Qudrat call down to Concordia to arrange for porters this afternoon.

 

In Photos:

Left: Stormy Broad Peak viewed from Camp I on the Cesan Route (K2)

Right: K2 shrouded in clouds viewed from Base Camp