Fresh from the summit of Everest in May, Jenn Drummond has quickly set her sights on K2.
The Mother of 7 from Utah USA is aiming to climb the ‘second seven summits’ so we followed her progress with interest with this diary of events…
“Let me get right to it: I’m coming home.
“This expedition has challenged and changed me in ways I did not expect. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions and just a lot to take in. A team member was lost to an avalanche and another one had to be heli rescued for injuries sustained in the same avalanche.
“Unlike Everest, K2 wasn’t about me and my journey. It was about how I show up in each others’ lives and how I champion others. What can I do to celebrate success, celebrate life, honor life, and honor myself?
“I can decide to surrender. I could go up, but at what cost? The people close to me know I am going to make decisions that include them is more important than waiving a summit flag. The porters will do whatever I ask and I looked at them and see them and when I said “we can go down”, one cried tears of gratitude. Instead of pushing, I respected where they were and together we chose to go down. So to me I surrendered. But not in a negative way. In a way that puts humanity first.
“I don’t have a summit this time around, but I have so much more that matters.
“I’ll share more later this week after I have a little more time to process. I thank everyone for following this journey with me.”
“Human kindness goes so far, and is something the world could use more of.
When we got to camp 2 (I was the first to arrive), we found all of our tents were destroyed by wind. We had to build new tents and re-establish platforms for them.
“By the grace of God, lakpa Sherpa owns Pioneer Mountaineering. The amount of empathy and kindness he showed brought me to tears. His tents were established, he made me tea, gave me a glass of coke, gave me hot water bottles to hold to get warm, AND made me a freeze dried meal.
“When pieces of our world are out of our control, it’s humbling to be shown kindness and compassion. We’re all one and there is no place to be selfish when aiming for a shared goal.
In these times, it comes down to communication and selflessness.
“I then was on my way up to camp 3, past all the hard obstacles, and was asked to return to camp 2. I spent time trying to collect my thoughts and make sure I still have support staff that would be interested in doing the journey to summit K2 with me. A lot of the ropes from camp 3 to camp 4 got buried so they would need to be redone, and then set from camp 4 to the summit. The drama on this expedition doesn’t stop and I am experiencing what it feels like to surrender to Mother Nature’s will and understand that this expedition isn’t really about me– rather, it’s about everyone else.”
“The past few days have been rest days. The last of our team is off of the mountain now. We are hoping for great weather to attempt K2 again soon. We need to set up camps and work with what we now know and have experienced.
“I have made great friends at Base Camp and have learned A LOT about being self-sufficient in the mountains! One of our team members struggled with minor frostbite, so we are waiting for the weather to clear for him to get down and get it treated.
“I have a small stomach bug that kept me up all night. I used bags in my tent for “different things” last night, so I didn’t have to get out in the storm. I know TMI but want to be completely transparent about this with all of you. I am pretty sure the bug is from a half of a fried egg. I don’t even like eggs, but I was trying to be more creative with my eating, and I’m paying for it.
“We’re waiting to see how the team and guides will break down our second K2 summit push. There is currently not enough room for all of us at the various upper camps, so we need to break up into a few groups and go at different times to keep the mountain from being too crowded. I’ll check back in when I can but wanted to share the latest with all of you.”
“The past few days have been frustrating and truly humbling. I am SAFE and I wanted to share the latest in my attempt to ascend K2.
“I didn’t get to summit as I had hoped to on Sunday. It was extremely frustrating. I had been warned that Pakistan was not quite as organized as Nepal with climbing, and I experienced that firsthand. The lines were not set like they were supposed to be, which creates obvious hazards and delays combined with the extremely cold temperatures here.
“We left Camp 2 early in the morning, and because we were sleeping four people to a tent for warmth, sleep wasn’t great. When we got to Camp 3, we were planning to rest from about 2 pm-9 pm and then go for the summit push. At 4pm, during our rest period, we learned the lines were not set for over half of the route. With that news, one of our team members didn’t skip a beat, stepped up, and organized the workload so it could get started on right away.
“Everyone was tired, however, and it didn’t quite work out like planned. I was told to leave at 9:30 pm, which I did in order to run into the rope fixers by 10:30 pm. It was freezing and dark and I would get little naps in between the lines being set. I was on oxygen and this amount of time on the mountain started to work against me. The lines didn’t get set in entirely until after 1 pm the next day. Don’t miss tomorrow’s post as I’ll be sharing how I had to go back to down to Base Camp on NO OXYGEN, that wasn’t fun but all things do happen for a reason and I’ll share that too.”
“K2 has been unpredictable just like the extreme weather conditions that make this climb extremely difficult with all the starting & stopping.
“A few days ago I found myself running low on oxygen while trying to attempt to get through the climb of Broad Peak. I was told that two of my oxygen bottles were given to someone else & my heart sank; I had to go down to base camp without. I urgently tried to shift my mindset to find the silver lining. It was hard! The amount of time I was behind rope workers & then not summiting due to errors was disappointing. I sat with that news & frustration, knowing that I was making the best choices I could at that moment. I had to be OK with it.
“Then I understood why I needed to let go of it: Sometimes the light comes from looking backward & not forward…
“While I didn’t summit on Monday, 2 guys on my team that did summit got stuck behind a girl who fell into a crevasse on the climb down. It took hours to rescue her & the rescue effort left everyone behind her exposed to cold weather & lack of oxygen. Our team ended up rescuing her & escorted our 2 guys back to Camp 3. One had frostbite (we weren’t yet sure of the severity), the other appeared to be OK. This experience was a profound reminder that when things seem to keep falling apart, go with your gut, surrender, & turn around. While I didn’t summit, I wouldn’t have fared as well as my teammates did in those conditions. I had already given away hand warmers, & because I was pulled hard on a rope & hit a rock, my suit was ripped down causing me to wait in the elements more exposed for many hours.
“It’s amazing how fast frustration & anger can turn to gratitude when you can see the big picture. It makes me wonder how many times has my anger got the best of me because I don’t take a huge step back to look at the larger picture? This frightening experience taught me that when you take the time to understand that anger could dissolve into understanding, & empathy.”
“Thank you so much to everyone who has reached out. Wifi is very limited here, I know I may sound like a broken record. But I wanted to take this opportunity to share that I’m safe. I’m currently at basecamp and I’ll be sharing more updates soon!”
“It’s colder here than Everest was, so we are all double-checking all gear and making sure we are setting ourselves up for success
“We made it to Camp 2 (21,980ft)! We knew it would be a beast of a day skipping through Camp 1 and straight to Camp 2 to take advantage of the weather opportunity. It was my first time to this altitude during this expedition and my stomach has been a bit of a mess, hopefully getting better soon.
“The ropes being set on Broad Peak are a bit of a mess right now, which is not very encouraging, but we all remain hopeful.
Today, we got up early to push to Camp 3 (23,800ft). I got sick halfway up, so I am climbing with oxygen from here on out. It’s amazing how oxygen really helps you stay warm. I’m so grateful to have this option.
“So now we are working on getting the ropes situated so we can make our summit attempt! We want to go for it and get off the mountain before another storm comes through!
“My goal is getting closer, and I’m finding comfort in moving onward and upward– literally! Attitude has so much to do with how we perceive our efforts and ability to achieve our goals.”
“We made it down safely to Base Camp from Camp 1 on Broad Peak. This climbing team is big with so many countries represented. It’s been a lot of fun to share stories, ask questions, and learn from so many diverse people with a range of climbing experiences around the world!”
“Two porters met us about 30 minutes outside of camp with cookies, Sprite, and Coke. It was greatly appreciated and a nice surprise! My tent is a big dome style tent with a smaller tent inside to sleep in. I’m able to keep all of my stuff really organized with this set up. The weather has been holding up for us, but it may turn a little worse later in the week.”⠀
“Wifi is scarce here. Although it’s frustrating because I want to share my journey with you all, it reminds me to slow down and being present. Focus on my surroundings and making new friends. Do you ever take the time to pause and unplug?”
“Today was another long hike. Lots of up and down on loose rock. It was the first camp where we grouped up with other people and it was fun to connect with some new faces.
“We woke up at 3:00am and started trekking around 4:00am to get a head start ahead of the heat and bugs. It was a smart move to do so and I still wonder if we should have started even earlier.
“About an hour away from camp, Sandro slid on a rock and sliced the inside of his ankle badly. It was a 2.5” inch cut. Luckily it didn’t bleed much, and he could still walk on it. We got to camp and luckily there was an orthopedic surgeon who was able to stitch up Sandro with a regular sewing needle and thread!
“One of the biggest differences between the K2 trek and that of Everest is the fact that we are remote, with little access to anything we might need beyond what we already have. If an injury happens, there isn’t much that can be done. Note to self: I will bring more alcohol in the future and maybe even a little suture glue, which would have worked on this.
“Despite Sandro’s injury, spirits are still high!”
“Whenever I come home from an expedition, I feel that I am simultaneously a new person yet also the same person. I give myself time to reflect and bridge together the efforts and lessons learned from the mountains and then prepare for my next challenge: K-2 summit. I am currently in Pakistan and I can’t wait to take you with me through this next expedition.”