This summer Rob Lucas is climbing K2
He is with Kenton Cool and Madison Mountaineering and we will follow his updates here…
“Safe at last! We are greeted by the Pakistani Army Liaison Officer and the Pakistani team on the glacier just after Advanced Base Camp and given traditional celebratory garlands.
“Kenton and I could not have dreamt of doing this without the two Dorges here and the whole Sherpa team. Super heroes!
“Done! K2 Summit 05.45 Wednesday 28 July. 8,611m. Totally amazing! I just can’t believe it. Mind blowing! Now to get safely down.”
“Another bit of signal from the Concordia beacon – we have line of sight albeit at a strap angle! We climbed the Black Pyramid yesterday. A long day (680m) from 6,686m to 7,366m. Amazing views. Weather forecast looks encouraging and Sherpas report good snow and ice conditions above C4. So we are currently all systems go to depart C3 for C4 around lunchtime and then depart from C4 for the summit at about 10pm! The summit day is a huge day so today is mostly about resting, hydrating.”
“We departed C1 just after 7am and arrived safely at C2 just before 11am. Weather remains fine and settled.
I don’t know whether we will catch any more cellular signal above this point so this may be the last post until we are down.
Sherpas are arriving at C4 around now and we will know tomorrow whether they think it’s possible to fix a route towards the summit.”
“At last the cloud clears from the summit of K2 and we are on! We have a weather window through to approx next Wednesday. We are waiting for our latest weather forecast update at noon our time / 8am UK time Friday which will dictate exactly when we depart base camp. If all goes according to plan we will be back in base camp 6 days after we depart.
“I may have a tiny bit of signal as we ascend but otherwise it won’t be possible to post until we are back down. Kenton and I both have sat trackers.”
“Our main concern is still the quantity of snow above C4 and our ability to summit will be heavily influenced by this. You can see from the video clip the high winds at the summit – we are hoping that this will blow much of the fresh snow off the mountain.”
“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 – searching for the illusive and fleeting 4G signal that dances tantalisingly along the glacier. In Harry Potter lingo, imagine the golden snitch!!! Here’s hoping this gets through! 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.”
“With wind and snow outside, preparations continue inside. Today the Sherpas and the guides carry out a detailed analysis of drone footage above C4 to try to work out the best route to the summit. The drone footage was taken a couple of days ago by Illa, a superb professional mountain photographer and is invaluable in our planning. Weather forecasts continue to show a period of settled weather once this storm has passed.”
“The bad weather arrives as predicted. Cloud, snow and high winds are forecast for the next 4 or 5 days. Summit attempts have been on going on at Boad Peak over the last couple of days of fine weather and while confirmed information is hard to come by, rumours suggest that there are still a number of climbers up on the mountain as the bad weather takes hold. Our thoughts are with anyone who is in difficulty.”
“While somewhat nervously waiting in BC for the perfect time to “scramble”, the structure of routine & tradition become significant. Today is Sunday and it’s 4pm – so for us Brits, that means tea & cake!
But this isn’t any old cake, this is special home made banana cake made by my daughter as an expedition gift just before I departed the UK. It tastes delicious – kept fresh over the last 3 weeks by being frozen in God’s own deep freeze (my tent) each night! It’s things like this that keep the spirits up – the physiological side of high altitude expeditions is enormous!”
“Things start to get serious as the guide and Sherpa team study photos taken by the Sherpas who have just come down from high on the mountain. Kenton (centre, head down), Jon seated to K’s right and Conan standing behind Jon are all particularly focussed on snow conditions. The Sherpas (Dorge and Siddhi are standing on the right of the picture) have done an amazing job fixing ropes to above C4 up to around 8,000m. They have found the snow deep and tiring. More heavy snow is forecast for tomorrow and Tuesday but then super high winds (c 80mph) are forecast so the hope is they will blow the snow off or at least consolidate it into hard pack.”
“With the better weather we can admire K2 in all her glory – her formidable presence dwarfing us in base camp and demanding huge respect. Even on a fine day such as this, the winds at summit level of 8,600m are strong as this time lapse shows – even as the sun sets.”
“A bit brighter today and so making the most of the sunny morning to shave and wash the laundry. Meanwhile the Sherpas are up the mountain establishing camp 4, fixing ropes and depositing oxygen. We will then be fully prepared for the. next good weather window (this one due to finish Monday with heavy snow)”
“The poor weather continues as predicted. K2 looks ominous shrouded in cloud bearing down on BC. We trek down the glacier in the wind and snow to find an internet signal. The second photo shows John Gupta @mountexpeds and me stalking a signal so we can place some of these posts! John has posted a great description of our high mountain rotation you can find it on https://youtu.be/M_xNJD6OWnA after 6min 15secs. The third and fourth shots show the type of weather data we receive each day – you can see the 3/4 days of settled weather from 15th thro Sunday. But beware the winds – you can see winds of 66kn/76mph today at 9,000m. We need winds below 20kn to climb. The Sherpas are using this window to fix ropes and stock camps with oxygen so we are completely ready when we get the next weather window – we need 5 or 6 days of good weather.”
“The view that greets me on opening my tent first thing – the cloud is right down, it’s snowing and the wind even at BC is shaking the tent. We are worried for the Sherpas who are still on the mountain between camps 2&3 carrying 3 oxygen bottles a piece to create our supply points. They are forced back after we hear they are all down or in Camp1 sheltering.”
“The weather breaks overnight with winds so strong we thought we were going to be blown off the mountain. We new things would deteriorate further so at first light pulled our things together and set off down the mountain as fast as we could. By camp 1 where this shot was taken the wind was less severe and we were out of the cloud. We rested, drank and deposited some kit for our summit attempt: hIgh altitude sleeping bags and mattresses. We then pushed on down to ABC as fast as we could – the ground so steep that this was super tiring. At ABC we were met by the kitchen team from BC who had amazingly made the 3hr trek up from BC to greet us off the mountain with food and drink – super welcome! We then stumbled back through the ice fall and along the glacial moraine to BC. We’re we glad to be off the mountain and back in the relative comfort of BC!”
“We spend the day acclimatising at camp 1. Kenton and I push up above the camp to admire the spectacular views.”
“We set off from base camp for our single 6 day acclimatisation rotation. Today we walked up the glacier to Advanced Base Camp at 5,350m. To get there we pass through a stunning ice fall!”
“We arrive K2 Base Camp. The weather has turned, the cloud has dropped and the last part of our trek in had been through driving snow.”
“We are going to try to navigate all the Covid-19 complexities to get out to Pakistan and into the Karakoram.”