Fotis Theocharis is aiming for a Broad Peak / K2 double this summer.
Here is a diary of his journey…
“Stress is obvious to all of us. While we shouldn’t normally think as customers, the basic things. Had a briefing with our mission manager. Something doesn’t suit me right for the whole organization. However, I am taking my measures!!! I only have one chance, I will strive for the best but as safe as possible for climbing and descent. Today is celebration day for Muslims Happy Eid. They made a pineapple flavored cake and Nutella, we had a beautiful moment of joy with the bastazos, fixing team and son of the bereaved Ali Sadpara (winter k2 2021), Sajid.”
“Woke up this morning, went to breakfast and see Fahad who had arrived at midnight. His hands have been damaged by frostbite. We are all happy that everyone is now in BC K2 alive!. During the day various discussions about wrong handling and lack of organization. Trying to see what plan we can do at K2. K2 is neither Everest nor Broad Peak. There are few camping seats and an excellent degree of difficulty, which if anything similar to Broad Peak happens, the tragedy will be certain. I’m surprised that there are people who simply first mountain was Everest and came to ′′ conquer ′′ K2. Some don’t have an ice route but not a rock leader even to an easy degree of difficulty. They believe that with money they can do anything and safely. This proved not to be the case (see. Broad Peak). Two people will leave our mission by helicopter.”
18th -19th July
“Woke up to Nana Mouskouri’s song, ‘ Away to Kathmandu ‘. Then had my breakfast with Jerry and Jordi. Unfortunately things didn’t go so well for trying to climb Broad Peak, lots of errors and poor logistics management on the part of the organizer company. I hope this will be a lesson for K2. Although as far as I know it takes a lot of work there too. Glad I didn’t even get into the climbing process with the background of the mistakes made in the effort of the other climbers. Night turns into nightmare, tragic moments, tragic figures. It was dark and there were still people on the edge before the top. They were stuck. Stuck (waiting) at the scene because two different accidents happened, fell into a crevasse (ice fault) two people at different time trying to release them. A Russian woman and a Korean. The Korean before falling while she was already down the Russian woman wanted to pass, was told that they should first release the Russian woman, he insisted on passing and died… News from one moment was good and the next moment the worst. You didn’t know what to believe Some were crying. Jordi was ready to rescue.
“All night the conversations what might have happened, the mistakes, the fact that there are our friends up there was sad and none of us slept for a second. We’re all together, customers, some bastazos, BC staff in a stage with a wireless. At 05:00 in the morning we had the information that a helicopter was coming to the rescue, Jordi was already ready, he still wanted three people. Got ready in my uniform and backpack and waiting for the helicopter. Couldn’t sleep thinking some people are in danger. We had to act. Eventually we learn that they are coming down (finally half truth and that). We learned that the helicopter would finally arrive at 09:00 (finally we didn’t have to)…. we did see some flashlights coming down. About 07:00 I get a message on my satellite system from Fahad that he slept outside at 7800 m and needs oxygen and water. With him are people from the fixing team. They are also overwhelmed… They are already 15:00 and have not even reached camp 3. Their return is extremely slow. We are afraid… At 18:47 I get a message that he is at camp 3. They are all well but completely tired. There are some bastazis and they have taken them oxygen, water and food…
“We saw some of our own people were coming down from the mountain for BC K2. We were waiting for them. Strong emotions were created from all the tragic history of attempting to climb. Late afternoon arrived Saeed who had climbed to the top. His wife was looking forward to him and when she saw him she ran to hug him. How beautiful to be loved and eagerly awaited!!! Now at BC K2, we are waiting for Fahad. Who was going to get them here tomorrow… At dinner we were all awake with our faces clearly overwhelmed.
“Sadly the Broad Peak situation was not the only thing we have been concerned about. On the morning of 19/7 one comes and tells us that three people (HAP) are in K2 and spoke via radio about a large avalanche between C3 – C2 and then communication went missing… some people went to check the situation there. Luckily everything is fine!
“On the afternoon of 19/7 come some gasped from BC K2 but from another company that an elevation gap (HAP) has broken its appendicitis! Immediately went to the spot. Paula came who is a doctor. Finally she had kidney colic. (He didn’t drink enough water and did heavy work). The necessary instructions and recommendation for hospitalization were given.”
“I woke up better than I was the day before. Thinking about getting dressed to start straight for camp 3, it’s my spontaneity, but instantly something like that would be completely dangerous. Opening up my tent, sunny, hot weather. Outside listening to the mission manager talking to the radio with the fixing team. They’re out of rope, they didn’t do proper calculations. I learned they would come down below to cut from easy rope track pieces to take it with them to fir extra. Thinking it was better to stay here in the end! One reason I don’t like commercial missions is that you ′′ hang ′′ on to the fate of the fixing team. Maybe in the future I will try lower peaks, untouched. After all, the creation or adventure of a new route is nothing else. Then while I was at the Internet site, I saw someone coming down the mountain. It was Jerry Gore, feeling tired so he decided not to attempt to go higher. Later in the afternoon, I saw several coming down, I learned that a vastazos was in bad shape, he was hit by altitude disease and was taken down. During dinner I encouraged Jerry with positive thoughts and that he made the right decision. Told him we going together after K2. When I went to bed in my tent I saw one coming down the mountain, I heard it was Jordi, coming down like a rocket. What had happened I didn’t learn…”
“Supposed to be starting for Camp 2 Broad Peak today, feeling better but not summit push. I am alone in Basecamp of our company. Everyone left for summit push. In the morning I ate an omelette and bread. My will is so strong but protecting my health more important. I’m staying at BC K2. To fully recover then my goal is K2. We talked with the manager and he said the best thing to do is try Broad Peak after K2. I may feel sad but I’m here and counting!!!”
“Couldn’t get up, tendency for vomiting, dizziness and extraordinary weakness. Didn’t eat breakfast. Afternoon I ate a handful of rice and a small bread-pie. In the afternoon I was drinking water so my body wouldn’t dehydrate. Guess the altitude disease hit me with time delay. Melted all day on stage like I had a hangover from bad hangover…”
“I had a restless sleep at night. Woke up this morning with my lips glued, sunburned because I only put lip balm without sun protection… had my breakfast. Today the weather is better with partial sunshine but with plenty of wind.”
“Woke up to the sound of falling snow on my tents. Soon I got up and went to the dining room for breakfast. Today we had briefing on how everyone would move up the mountain (Broad Peak). My shot moving straight to camp 2 in the next few days. Akbar will be with me who will help me achieve the goal, thanks to the bastazos and fixing team, it is more likely to become the top. In the evening we had various conversations about climbing style etc.”
“Up at 04:35, melted snow to drink water but also to take with me. I ate two frozen cereal bars. Outside it was strong air. I wore my clothes and the storm mask too. I got my Piolet and started coming down, Paola was close to me. When I found the steady ropes, I continued by myself, with repeated rappels passing through Camp 2, Camp 1 to the end of the slope. Continued myself through the glacier as the BC K2. Glacier is supposed to be marked with ′′ hoodies ′′ (stones on top of the other) so you don’t get lost. But in a glacier that melts the trail of the course is never the same!!! My acclimatisation is over and I’m ready for summit push.”
“My toes, been frozen all night. I wore the double boots and for a very long distance my fingers were frozen. In the morning I was very cold. Arms and legs all frozen, didn’t want to stop to get the biggest gloves out of the backpack. My rotation backpack is Gregory Alpinisto 50 L, very easy to use and hard-headed. Me and Paola have one elevation gap each, unfortunately today one of the two vastazos got sick so I carried all my stuff so I wouldn’t force the other with more burdens. Continuing to Camp 3, up to a certain point I notice there are no steady ropes anymore and we must continue. Taking out my Piolet (mountaineering hoe) and with slow steps I reach the supposed camp 3. There were no scenes ready for our company, so we digged and cleaned the space to set the tent. After a while Rick came, I layered my substrate on a snowy pedestrian and sat gazing at the beautiful view at 7000 m. I didn’t sleep well at night, they warm up. I didn’t use supplemental oxygen.”
“05:30 departure from BC K2 to Camp 2 camp in Broad Peak. This time I had enough cereal bars and food. I got my own gas tank to melt snow and drink enough water. At low cost companies you have to be ready for any unexpected in logistics. With me is Paola from Finland, mother of two kids about my age. Strong and with discipline. We will find Rick and Jerry at camp2. We reach the point where the steady ropes start and this time I don’t use them until Camp 1. A few minutes stop to rest at camp 1 and continue to Camp 2. route moves in a snow field alternately between rocks. The presence of a previous avalanche makes me not complain at all and notice everything around me. Arriving at camp 2 found an almost flat surface to sleep on stage. My sleep was good. Alone on stage, melting snow, making food and thinking about tomorrow.”
“Today the day washed clothes in the glacier river 🥶 (my hands froze). One of the unexpected things of the day was laying on stage, someone ′′ parked ′′ outside two yaks, something between cow and ox with plenty of hair. Then they took one and took it to the river and in front of me his massacre happened. I said I will never eat meat again! Then went to get my backpack ready for tomorrow going for the last acclimation at Broad Peak. Specifically the goal of tomorrow’s Camp 2 6300m.”
“Day of rest and relaxation, basically we never relax. Cleaned up my tent.”
“Woke up around 07:00. The body battery on the clock says 100 %! Had enough sleep probably the best night of sleep I’ve had so far on mission. Opened the tent door, all white, it had snowed about 7 cm of snow. With snow you can’t see dirt (trash in the mountains).”
“I am at K2 Base camp after three nights spending at Camp 1 on K2.”
“At Broad Peak Camp 1”
“I have reached K2 Base Camp.”
“We are on our way from Urdukas to Goro II.”
“Unfortunately today we stayed at Urdukas Camp due to morning snowing that porters refused to move to Goro II.”
“I have reached Urdukas Camp.”
“We are at Paiju Camp going to Urdukus Camp.”
“8am in the morning, it’s our breakfast time. Going down to the lobby, eating, and waiting to get started. At breakfast I met a couple from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saeed Al will try the same program as me and his wife Nayla, aspires to become the first UAE woman to climb Broad Peak.
“After breakfast I was waiting in my room to get called to leave, our schedule is to go to Askole – Jhola Camp. Door knocking, I say finally, I open and he tells me today our transition is cancelled, we will leave tomorrow! The reason is that we are waiting for liaison officer from Islamabad to get the permits we need for the mountains. Unexpected things are common in missions. So I didn’t lose my mood. After this we have arranged to go to nearby Satpara lake which is located at an altitude of 2626 m. We took some pictures. It was time to go back, the well known trio now, we decided to walk back to town but before that we went for a walk higher so we could get a little more altitude to help our acclimation.
Finally liaison officer came, tomorrow we will start moving. In shaa allah they say here too (let’s see if it works).”
“Morning wake up found me in the toilet, why did I want the cold water bath! It’s rest day and prep day because we’re supposed to be off to the mountain tomorrow. So again the trio (Fotis, Jerry, Rick) we went shopping at the Skardu shops. Shopped the latest essentials needed for shipping needs. We went to the mobile phone store to pick up the local SIM card to get in touch with our own people. The afternoon finds me in my room sorting the bags, some will go straight to Base Camp and one will follow me on my way to base camp. Lots of things to settle and get things sorted because the weather is forecast to rain at low altitude and snow higher. All ready, feels good that tomorrow we will start…”
“The hot water supposed to be 9 to 12 in the morning was cold and unfortunately for the next two days I had a stomach issue, the problem here is the lack of essential elements. Took my bath, washed some clothes on hand and then left along with my other two companions for a walk to town so we could see and explore the shops.”
“Oh my goodness, oh my god what a road this! Have you seen what collided cars look like at the luna park huh but no colliding yet… OMG the road was closed and we had to wait for it to open. Me and Jerry decided to walk, walked two and a half hours until he found us the car and continued. We have seen closely the explosion that workers are doing to broaden the road and the machinery are constantly working.
“First impression I get so far, locals are very friendly even Pakistani army soldiers. We arrived after 15+ hours travelling at the hotel!!!
“An unrepeatable experience.
“The journey to Skardu is two days of driving through the Karakorum highway (KKH). It is considered the eighth miracle of the world. Watch various videos on the internet and you will understand…
“Wake up at 05:00 in the morning to load our stuff in the car. I sat in the front seat to take videos and photos. The driver of the car, a 25-year-old, who has two wives, one is 18 years old with two children already and the other woman of 15 years old. He told me he had two left to go.
“We arrived at Batta Kundi village. Together on the mission I’m with two other great, famous and true alpinists Rick Allen (with a Piolet award) and Jerry Gore with some very difficult climbs in the world.
“Jerry is diabetic and dedicates climb to Pakistan for his foundation Action4Diabetes.org. We’ll be all three alone together on the way to base camp. Others will come in the following days, because they have problems with flights through Qatar to Pakistan. At least I was lucky to catch and my flight was not cancelled.
“After eating we went for a walk in the village only we found ourselves on the opposite side to enjoy the view of the village from above… evening in our room while talking and laughing and having fun, we said time to lay down because in the morning we would wake up at dawn to continue our journey. As soon as I sat on the bed I got soaked, the mattress, pillow even the curtains next to me… the journey to K2 is not easy for the basics either.
“Arrival at Islamabad International Airport. Checking for Covid-19 using the rapid test method. Really unorganized, just took the test, and found a guy stamping that I was checked and left.
“Then found the employees from the office hosting the mission, they told me I’ll wait a while for two more customers to come so we can all go to the hotel… 06:00 was at the hotel! Same day in the afternoon we had a briefing for our transition to Skardu. It’s the town we’ll prepare our things for our departure to the mountain. Usually climbers go by plane to Skardu to save the inconvenience but we will drive. We came for adventure!”
“The moment I was waiting for has arrived. Since 2020 been postponed, months went by fast and 2021. came. Really how much effort did it take to get this far? What is it that we chase in the mountains? My mind is quiet… dreaming.
No matter how many mountain conquests we do, the real conquests are those of our own people’s hearts. Those who truly love us. I feel lucky to have people to love me, I believe it’s my best conquest.”