Jerry Gore – K2 / Broad Peak updates

This summer Jerry Gore aimed to climb K2 as part of his ‘Insulin Challenge.’

We will follow his excellent updates with this diary…

2nd August

“From the high hopes of Broad Peak to the devastating death of Rick, my K2 Insulin Challenge journey has been a roller coaster.
But the ride has only been possible because of the amazing Pakistani guides and porters.
Arshad Karim, Shah Daulat, Waqar Ali, Rizwan Dad, Ahmed Baig, Ishaq Ali, Liaqat Karim and Muhammad Qasim are all from Shimshal village (3100m) in the Hunza district. Raised breathing the same mountain air, their spirit of togetherness and ability to operate at high-altitude make them the perfect partner for expeditions to the Karakoram.
And after the avalanche last Sunday, with Rick lost to the ice, these men came into their own.
Arshad, Shah, Waqar, Rizwan and Ahmed were at K2 Camp 2 when they got the news of the avalanche. They all knew Rick – he was a sort of legendary grandfather in these parts! – and they came rushing down the mountain to help.
At 7 pm they burst into our tent at Advanced Base Camp (ABC). My guide, Ishqat Ali and I gave them tea. It was all they needed to get their strength back before we set off into the night to find Rick. I tried to keep up but they moved liked greyhounds over the glacial rubble.
Over the past 4 weeks, the porters fixed ropes up to K2 Camp 2 (6700m) and to the summit of Broad Peak (8047m). All the while going up and down the mountains to help guide and support clients. As they darted across the mountain to find Rick, I was in awe of their incredible energy and fitness.
By midnight they found Rick and wrapped his body in a tent flysheet and carried him a kilometre back to ABC. All at 5500m. We then huddled together in the tent and ate before going to sleep.
We buried Rick the next morning. We stood together in the shadow of K2 with prayers in different languages and for different religions filling the air. It was a moment of total unity, and it was a good way goodbye to a Scotsman who loved these mountains and the people who call them home.
I’m back at Base Camp now and about to begin my journey home. This challenge has taken so much out of me, but it has also given me so much back. None of it would have been possible without the porters and guides and for that I am grateful.
These young men are not here to chase summit dreams. Of course, they love the mountains but they are also here to earn money and build a future. Not just for themselves, but also their families and their community. And they do so with super-human strength and wonderful humanity at every step.
Knowing they will still be up here when I am home will continue to inspire me. They are my mountain heroes!
Onwards and upwards.”

July 27th

“We buried Rick yesterday morning in a mountain grave as his family wanted.
He was one of my oldest friends and the most honest and good-natured person I have had the honour of sharing a rope with. I had known him for more than 25 years.
The night before he died he was on fire with excitement for a potential new route up K2, the mountain of mountains. The next morning, I was with Ishaq Ali on the normal route and only 300m from Rick when the avalanche happened. He died doing what he loved, and every minute of his life he lived.
It was a hot day and the conditions were difficult. We went back down and waited until midnight at Advanced K2 Base Camp before going to get him off the mountain. Rick was a legend in these parts and porters came down from Camp 2 to help us find him.
At 6 am we woke to say our final goodbyes. Rick had a strong Christian faith. I washed his face and said a few words and a Christian prayer then Liaqat Karim, one of our Pakistani guides, said a Muslim prayer.
Rick was a true gentleman. My thoughts are with his family and his lovely girlfriend, Kathi.
This is the end of my K2 Insulin Challenge. I am at Base Camp and will be here for the next few days sorting Rick’s affairs before beginning my journey home.

July 25th

“Bad news. Rick Allen was killed in an avalanche today trying a new route on K2.
“My expedition partner was with two European guides, Jordi Tosas and Stephan Keck, who were both unharmed. I am safe and was not with Rick when the avalanche happened.
“I am now with Ishaq Ali at Advanced K2 Base Camp. We spent time with Rick and the two guides here last night. Ishaq and I were going up the normal K2 route, but “Rick and the others were trying a new route this morning when they got avalanched.
“Rick died doing what he loved. His greatest achievement was the Mazeno Ridge on Naga Parbat with Sandy Allen in 2012 which was the last, great unclimbed “Himalayan route. He had an amazing ability to climb fast over 6000m.
“Rick is the 17th friend I have lost to the mountains and probably the closest. He was an eccentric Scottish gentleman and was kind and compassionate to the end. He was just a really lovely person. He leaves behind few close family members but a lifetime of extraordinary experiences. He died aged 66.
“The climbing world has lost a true legend.
“Ishaq and I will stay the night here at Advanced Base Camp before heading back to the main base tomorrow morning.

July 20th

“Wow!! What an epic. K2 INSULIN CHALLENGE UPDATE!
It was my first attempt at climbing above 8000m and it did not go to plan. But I’m back at Base Camp and feel lucky to be sharing time with amazing people in an amazing place.

“50 climbers tried to get to the top of Broad Peak (8047m) in the weather window over the weekend. It was tough going and I began to feel ill after Camp 1.
By Camp 2 I was feverish, weak and totally exhausted. My Type 1 Diabetes had also pushed my blood sugar levels sky-high and I had no choice but to turn around.

“I was devastated. My incredible climbing partner Rick Allen pushed on up to Camp 3 as I crawled back down to Base Camp. Lots of people have been falling ill with a non-covid bug going around camp but I still felt like a total failure.

“When I got back to Base Camp we could see on the Garmins that many climbers had had to turn around. The snow conditions were slowing things down as routes needed to be cleared through deep snow. With the omens not looking good and the weather beginning to turn, Rick decided to head back down the mountain after getting to 7,300m.

“But 10 people decided to go on and got to the summit as night closed in. After the mountain pushed my body to breaking point, I know that this is an amazing achievement!

“But then, on the way back down, disaster struck. A Russian climber, Anastasia Runova, fell into a crevasse while descending during the night.
The details are still blurry, but a military helicopter was called out and a group of Russian climbers in Camp 3 rallied and pushed up the mountain to try and find her.
In Base Camp, I was with Anastasia’s partner. I quickly forgot about feeling sorry for myself and tried to comfort him as best as I could. We both knew that up above us in the dark people were battling to rescue his partner and save her life.

“Thankfully, she was hauled out of the crevasse and made it to Camp 3 just as the bad weather rolled up the valley. It was such a close-run thing and everyone’s relief was palpable. Rick got back to base and we have both spent the last 12-hours resting up and talking about what’s next on the expedition – it’s always great to be back with your mate after a big epic.”

“Although it was tough to not make it past Camp 2, I know if I had I would not have been able to support Anastasia’s partner at Base Camp. Of course, I am not going to be making any headlines. Why should I? But I am pleased I could do something, even if it was just making him a cup of tea. It made me realise that I was not a failure.

“Big things in life are important. And getting to the top of one of these big mountains IS important to me, especially with my Type 1 Diabetes. But the journey and the people you meet along the way are as important as reaching any summit. If you stay positive, you remain undefeated.

“Onwards and upwards!! Our attention now turns to the big beast that is K2. I can’t wait to give it a go.”

July 15th

“Still jabbing at 7000m! Hoping to summit broad peak tomorrow!”

July 14th

“At 10pm on Saturday, we are going for the summit of Broad Peak, 8,047m. It is the next brutal stage of our acclimatisation before we turn our attention to K2.
I have never gone above 8000m before. At this altitude, you start to shut down because there is 25% less oxygen in the air than at sea level. I do not know how my body and my Type 1 Diabetes will react. It is a step into the unknown.
But we have spotted a weather break and will go for it! Tomorrow we will head to Camp 2 (6,300m), then Camp 3 on Friday (7,300m) and then the final push on Saturday.
The past few days of climbing have been the hardest thing I have ever done. Going up and down these steep slopes at altitude is gruelling. It takes everything out of you. My fingers and lips are cracked and bleeding from the cold. Being 60 years old and having Type 1 Diabetes does not help!”

July 13th

“We spent the last few days at 6300m on Broad Peak. It’s tough and unforgiving up here. But we have to acclimatise to low oxygen levels before we push for the K2 summit.
Although I am getting used to the lack of oxygen, I know my body will never get used to Type 1 Diabetes.
High-altitude climbing is difficult and adding T1D into the mix does not make it easier. You need to inject way more at these altitudes and there is also the risk of your insulin freezing over.
But as I look at the stunning views of the Karakoram and enjoy laughs in camp I know I am lucky. If I did not have insulin to inject I would not be ‘Jerry Gore the mountaineer trying to climb K2’…. I would not be alive.”

July 11th

“We spent last night at 6300m on Broad Peak. It’s tough and unforgiving up here. But we have to acclimatise to low oxygen levels before we push for the K2 summit.
Although I am getting used to the lack of oxygen, I know my body will never get used to Type 1 Diabetes.
The condition stops me from producing the hormone insulin. We all need insulin to survive, it’s just that I have to inject it because my pancreas decided to pack up!
High-altitude climbing is difficult and adding T1D into the mix does not make it easier. You need to inject way more at these altitudes and there is also the risk of your insulin freezing over. Those with T1D know it can be such a pain.
But as I look at the stunning views of the Karakoram and enjoy laughs in camp I know I am lucky. If I did not have insulin to inject I would not be ‘Jerry Gore the mountaineer trying to climb K2’…. I would not be alive.”

July 3rd

“K2 Insulin Challenge: I am standing on a rocky outcrop at 5300m in a snowstorm to send you this update. The wonders of 4G!
We are into the steady acclimatisation phase of the K2 expedition.
Over the past two days, we have gone from K2 base camp up to Broad Peak camp 1, back down to the bottom and then back to camp 1 for the night.
There is only a 750m altitude difference between the two but it is still a five-hour climb. It leaves you exhausted but it has to be done to get ready to go 8000m +
Rick and I have normal high altitude side-effects: headaches, nausea, fatigue and loss of appetite. It is a challenge juggling the altitude with insulin injections. You need to inject more because you are doing loads of exercise and eating loads of carbs for fuel.

“I had a sugar low coming down over the K2 glacier yesterday and sat down and ate three cereal bars. Icy torrents all around.
My Type 1 Diabetes can be super frustrating at times. But my strength came back and we made it to Base Camp in time for that traditional Pakistani dish, Pizza!
We are now at Broad Peak camp 1 for the night. It is surreally balanced on a tiny snow shelf with steep drops on every side. All against the most amazing vista of the Karakoram.
Slowly but surely, our bodies are getting used to this place. We are using a pulse oximeter to measure how much oxygen we have in our blood. At sea level, we would be at 90. But up here we are at 79. It is different in the land of the giants. Everything is extreme and savagely beautiful.
Back down to K2 Base Camp in the morning, before we head back to Camp 1 for a two-night stay. Onwards and upwards! Wish us luck.”

July 1st

“Rick Allen and I heading up to Broad Peak Camp 1 today to help acclimatise before we take on the 8,611m K2.”

June 29th

“We made it to Base Camp!
After back-to-back 20km hikes, we are now in the shadow of the giant. OMG, it is huge. Our camp is under a glacier and it rises 3600m vertically above us. Sheer ice and rock.”

“Controlling my Type 1 Diabetes is tough. I need to eat a lot of carbs for the hiking. But then my sugar spikes. If you put in too much insulin you go low. Which happened on Monday night.
At midnight I had dropped too low so I ate tango orange powder and frozen honey in the mess tent. I was pleased to get 100 mg/dl (a good level!) after arriving at K2 Base Camp this afternoon.
I know that if I can keep my sugars stable, I can get up the big beast looming above us.
Diabetes is NOT an excuse!”

“Yesterday, the porters went on too far and we nearly had to bivvy out in plastic bags. Not fun in -10C. But thankfully we managed to catch up with them.
We got the BBQ going and had potato and Dzo, a cross between a Yak and Cow. Really tasty and morale is very high. Onwards and upwards!”

June 28th

“Miracles happen, especially on the throne of the mountain gods.
My challenge of getting from Paiju (3450m) to Urdukas (4,130m) on route to K2 basecamp started at midnight with diarrhoea and fever from a head cold.”

“Strong winds, rain and dust did not help. I could not sleep. At 4am I just made it to the toilet cabin. A flock of starlings. Stomach cramps.
My blood sugars were at 370mg/dl. Sky-high. Time to rationalise.
I knew I could not walk 20k today with all my kit. I was in a mess, sat shivering in the tent wearing 6 layers. The rest of the team arrived and I asked them for paracetamol and luck.
We set off early, moving very fast. I was so cold. But after an hour I was exhausted. I remember the constant look of concern from the porter, Yassim.”

“The rest of the day was full of pain and grit. I counted every minute. I also had to get my blood sugar levels back under control.
Being sick can throw them into disarray. I could not absorb sugars from anything I ate or drank. I was also dehydrated.
The last hurdle was freezing river crossing. Yassim helped me. Our bare feet slid on the slippery rocks as the icy-greywater swirled around us.
We reached the next camp at 16.30. It was 6km before Urdukas so we had walked 14k and gained about 1000m.

“I felt like I had come through the eye of a physical storm.
I was very tired but happy to have made it. Rick came across smiling. At 66 carrying a 20kg load, he was constantly supportive and in total control. Apart from losing one of his sandals in a traverse!
We ate in a cramped but warm shelter made of rocks. Just Rick, me, Yassim and a local guy who was running a little store for passing mule drivers. After eating I collapsed in a heap of sleep.”

“We woke at 6 am for the final short push to Urdukas. I went outside for a pee and looked up to see myself surrounded by giants. Trango, Masherbrum.. all 8000+. Some of the biggest, hardest and most beautiful mountains on our planet.
I had got both long and short acting insulin injections right the night before and my sugars had stabilised to around 120mg/dl.
I felt proud of my body. It had been punished the day before. But I started to feel strong again. The day before was one of the worst I can remember. But today was one of the best.”

“We covered the 6km to Urdukas fast. Rick was carrying more than 20kg and Yassim even more. Yassim was smiling today and sang.
The mountains punish you one moment and inspire you the next. That is what it is to be a mountaineer.
Diabetes is NOT an excuse!!”

June 23rd

“We started the approach to K2 Base Camp (BC) two days ago.
It’s tough terrain, especially carrying a 15kg bag full of insulin and other supplies!
The first day was just driving to Jhola but amazing scenery. My head cold got worse during the day and had a bad night’s sleep. Very dirty, dusty and cold.”

“Yesterday we left Jhola around 8am and walked 20k. It was a fight for me every step of the rocky trail. The path goes up and down along a crumbling hillside with big drops to the Baltoro river below.
My rucksack weighs 15kg and is full of insulin, clothing for -10c to +30c. Plus water and food.”

“Yesterday, one of our five-person team was walking close to a crumbling edge that dropped 15m to the river. You have to walk carefully otherwise you risk spraining an ankle and ruining your expedition. The edge collapsed and his wife tried to hold him from falling. I was just behind and fell on him and pinned him to the earth so we could pull him to safety. He bruised his rims but nothing was broken. If he had fallen he could have easily broken an ankle.”

“The moves were only Fr.4b probably but with trekking boots and a rucksack not so easy. At that point, we were 100m above the river. Later on, Rick and I were traversing a hillside section and the trail just went to bare exposed rock.
We reached Paiju Camp around 17.00hrs. I was tired and had a dodgy stomach. Luckily, we decided on a rest day. I needed it. I was coughing up phlegm and had a raging sore throat.”

“Morale is very good in our team. We all make each other laugh a lot despite we all come from different cultures: Greek, French, Scottish, UAE, Qatari, Pakistani and English.”

“An Arab husband and wife who climb for world peace, a well-dressed banker who misses his family, a Greek policeman who cleans everything and helps everyone and a determined diabetic with a lot of needles!”

“We also have a great Liaison Officer from the Pakistan army. He feeds our team with information about this huge and exciting country.
Tomorrow we have a hard day as we leave Paiju, and head towards Urdukas which is at 4130m.
20k+ and 1000m height gain. At present we are at 3300m. So today I eat, drink, sleep and repeat.
And remember, Diabetes is NOT an excuse!”

June 21st

“We are off finally. We have our trekking permits so today we drive to Johola and camp. And tomorrow We hike. Today I woke with great blood sugars but a bad head cold. We will see how I get on. Inshallah.”

June 19th

“HUGE OMG Day today. During and since that awesome journey up the Karakoram Highway I have been very uncomfortable and experiencing alot of pain in my groin and lower back.”
“Long story short after alot of crazy motorcyle rides around Skardu on the back of Nasir (Manager for Karakoram Expeditions – our great agents) bike, two consultations with cancer Specialist Dr Asif Raza, a bloodtest and a detailed ultrasound examination, all within 3 hours the whole medical emergency was diagnosed, medicated and sorted.
The sheer speed of it all let alone the medical professionalism was astounding. Well done to the Pakistan Health System and its amazing healthcare professionals.”
“I cant describe the roller coaster of emotions I experienced this afternoon. But the bottom line is I am fit to fight. We start the trek to K2 Base Camp tomorrow.”

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