Kenton Cool was in the Karakoram for the first time in 25 years this summer with K2 as the target.
Fresh from Everest, Kenton is climbing and guiding Rob Lucas with Madison Mountaineering and we followed his updates here.
“We were blessed by the very best overhead and under foot conditions.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have had this chance to climb such a majestic mountain. I have no qualms saying that without the fixed ropes placed by our amazing sherpa team and without such a dedicated support team this opportunity would never have become a reality.
“To stand shoulder to shoulder with my friend Rob Lucas and Dorjee Glygen was beyond any aspiration I could have had when I left home.
“As I process what the last 5 weeks have held I’ll post my thoughts from the expedition. Until then look out for TFTT on the @thecoolconversations podcast which records the summit push on the mountain as it unfolded!!
“For now THANK YOU everyone for following and for the support and love you have given!!”
“Now all Sherpa, Pakistani staff and member safe at Camp 4.”
“We’ve made Camp 3!
“I won’t lie it was an effort to get up here today. Nearly 700m of shattered rock followed by a soul destroying 300m of never ending snow.
“The forecast looks amazing and our stella sherpa team have fixed high above Camp 4.
“It’s all to play for….”
“Camp 1 on K2
“Today, July 25th we left this camp and climbed steadily up to Camp 2.
“We were all pleasantly surprised by the state of the tents at C1 when we arrived yesterday. However this was not the case at C2 where there winds have torn the tents apart.
“However Rob and I are here, in good time and good spirits!!!”
“All good things come to those who wait’.
“That’s a saying that my mother and father use to say all the time. Obviously being a teenager back then I never really subscribed, and being honest it’s something I still struggle with at times even today.
“We always knew that K2 was going to be a waiting game. High altitude mountaineering is as much about sitting it out as it is about climbing, but boy she has strung us out this time!!
“But just like my dear parents continually told me when I was younger our waiting game seems to have paid off.
“There is a good weather window forming and it’s time to think about heading back on the mountain.
“After so many days kicking our heels it is fair to say that excitement (and a little anxiety) levels are rising.
“Here’s hoping for fair winds, good views, amendable snow conditions but above all fun (and safe) times.”
“The forecast storm is well and truly set in now with cloud down, heavy snow and cold. Despite all of this, we battle the elements to maintain contact with the outside world.
“Our super-detailed daily forecasts beamed in by a world expert in Belgium continue to predict an excellent window once this storm passes.
“We try to remain fit, well, hydrated and rested in anticipation – more challenging than it sounds at 5,000m where the body is working at double rate just to hold its own and where recovery from any form of illness or injury takes 5 times as long as at sea level.”
“K2 the Savage Mountain.
“She dominates Basecamp, looming over us with her formidable presence.
“Even on a good day the winds can whip around her upper reaches rendering her impossible to climb.
“We sit at Basecamp waiting patiently for the right opportunity, then and only then do we hope that she allows us safe passage.
“Will we get to stand on her hallowed summit!…..only time will tell.”
“There aren’t many places to pitch tents on K2, least not at the first 2 camps.
As the team move up the Abruzzi Spur we are experiencing uncompromisingly steep terrain. As such the small oasis’ of flat(ish) ground need to be utilised to their full advantage.
Right now at Camp 2 I’m perched on the edge of the abyss with little more than wafer thin tent fabric between me and the mind numbing drop of 2000m to the glacier.
The question of why springs to mind….
To surround yourself with such majestic beauty, to push yourself out of existing comfort zones, to experience hardship and discomfort. This for me is all part of a deep and rich tapestry that is life.
“I’ve had the privilege to climb all over the world throughout my career as a mountain guide but this is simply unreal.
It seems that every step Rob and I take the vista expands to a new level. One that constantly leaves us both gasping for air through it’s sheer beauty.
Never have I climbed on a mountain and been surrounded by such majestic peaks.
Being in the mountains always grounds me, these last few days have left me humbled and grateful for this wonderful thing called life!”
“After a day of snow the clouds finally parted. We were greeted with unprecedented views, it was time to look up and marvel at what a wonderful place we are in.”
“First views of K2….. Trek to BC has been amazing, finally seeing peaks that I’ve only read about for years!”
“I’m currently surround by giant majestic peaks in the Karakoram (Pakistan), peaks that I’ve spent a lifetime longing to see with my own eyes.
I first came to Pakistan as a shy, naive 19 year old, it was my first trip to the greater ranges. It was a trip that opened my eyes to the world and set me on a trajectory, but one without direction.
Fast forward 28 years. I was recently asked by my buddy Patrick after a days climbing ‘Whats your purpose?’. I didn’t have a solid answer but it’s made me question myself and delve within.
Expeditions give you time, time to think and reflect, time to digitally detox (the irony is not lost guys). If I’m ever going to have space it’s now, have I found my purpose out here?…..of course not, but I’m making positive steps and that’s a win, but then I think I’ve been making baby steps since my first visit here in ‘93.”
“I type this from my hotel in Skardu, a town nestled in an arid yet beautiful river valley surrounded by hills. I was last here 28 years ago and boy it’s changed…yet so have I. Being here has stirred up many memories and generated more than a little reflection, some good some bad.
But for now Skardu represents the gateway to the mighty Karakoram and of course K2…..”