This summer Saulius Damulevicius was attempting to climb Broad Peak
We followed his progress with this diary…
“On July 19 “There’s been worse,” I encourage myself, continuing my descent from C3 to BC, raging blizzards. Visibility is limited, wet snow trembles in my eyes, and I need to “drop” 2100m of steep terrain with a heavy backpack. I am tired after a failed 4 day climb to the top of Broad Peak, the last two of which are almost without food and sleep. In fact, I don’t know if it was ever worse. I can’t remember because all the power of the brain is focused on safety and saving the body’s resources.
“Before leaving, I inspect the landing line, station points, and rope. I didn’t touch the ropes when climbing up, but now I’m glad they are there. Without them, I would not be able to land today. As I approach the C1, which has now turned into a ghost camp, I hear a strange sound behind my back. “Avalanche ?!” Turning around, I see Thomas Lone on the skis. “How are you Saul, are you OK?” Thomas asks. I answer that everything is in order, and I immediately ask if there is any news about Mr. HongBin Kim.
“Kim is dead strikes a short answer. Unfortunately, this only confirmed my thoughts. The Korean climbed to the top at 5p.m. in the evening, just a couple of hours before dark, descending near the summit and staying up all night on a shelf on the Chinese side, where the Broad Peak wall falls all the way to the glacier. Nastya Runova fell there, only to be rescued by a Pakistani guide, and Mr. Kim for some reason not.
“I also climbed there a few hours ago until I decided to turn around because it was too late for the top. Near the crash site yesterday I saw a bundle of clothes and two rubbed LaSportiva shoes. “Who could leave shoes at an altitude of almost 8,000 m?” I thought at the time. And after descending, Israfil Ashurlı asks, “Did you see that dead climber with LaSportiva shoes? Do you think maybe there is a Polish Maciej Berbeka?”
“It’s not the first time. My brain blocks the thought of dying in the mountains, even when the eyes see reality. “Kim is dead,” I repeat to myself, but this time the words hit straight into the heart. I poke the iceberg and sit on the snow. Dark eyes. The words get stuck in my throat, so I wake my hand for Thomas to skate further. I must clear my mind immediately, as there is a 100m descent on a steep icy slope where the safety rope is unreliable.
“After 15 minutes, I’m a robot again – I’m landing a three-stroke on the front cat teeth. The rope is just an extra point. In my mind – the numbers “1, 2, 3”. I reach the foot of the mountain at dusk and with a barely lit cyclop. I am greeted by Hussein from Lela Peak Expedition Pakistan, giving me coca cola with crushed biscuits. This sugar cartridge helps to overcome the rest of the way through the glacier, so 9 hours after leaving C3, I have dinner at BC.
“This is how the attempt to climb to the top of Broad Peak ended. At first it seemed that everything was going well, according to plan. July 15 we reached C2 + (slightly higher than C2, about 6250 m) on 16 July, ascended to C3 (6950 m). There we decided to rest instead of building an intermediate C4. July 17 11 p.m. we started to the top. Israfil felt bad, so we started late and moved slowly. I waited a couple of times for almost an hour, even starting to fall asleep on the route. Upon reaching the crossing, it became clear that the climb would not be easy, it would take more time. I suggested turning around right away, but colleagues from #deathzonefreeride still wanted to give it a try. Still at 4:30 p.m. We turned around at an altitude of 7965 m. We climbed 17.5 hours, climbed another 6.5 hours. Soon after, we learned about the disasters on the Mountain and spent the whole night at the walkie-talkie. Only 4:30a.m. in the morning, after the second night of insomnia, I took off my shoes and slipped into my sleeping bag.
“It hurts when there are 100 meters left to the top. But it would have taken another couple of hours to climb, one way. That would mean landing exhausted at night. That would mean mistakes. It would probably mean injury or death…
“The mountain remains standing and will stand for a long time to come. I chose to play by the rules to avoid disaster. Of course, I don’t feel good. The effort had already been put into this goal… And yet it is incomparably better than staying “in the shoes, on the way to the top”. 🙂 I still have a chance to relax and try again. Mr. Kim Hong-bin lost his hands due to frostbite on Mount Denali (6,190 m). After the incident, the Korean decided to climb handslessly to all 14 top peaks in the world. Broad Peak was the last peak to a world record.”
Very Close to Summit – But didn’t make it – Reaction to follow…
July 10th to July 12th
“We tried to leave at 5 pm morning but we only move at 7 am It’s cold even with fluffy pants. The pace is slow to 2-10 steps. I wonder what’s wrong with me but everyone is moving at a similar rate. From facial expressions – and everyone’s thoughts are similar. Conversations don’t happen when you fold.
Before the last snow slope I take a pretty long break so I reach the last C3 (6950 m). Sore throat so bad feeling tired Since it’s almost 18 pm (soon it will start darkening), we are building a tent in the ironed field in the israfil. I get into a sleeping bag and get my hand out through the front for water tea and pasta. No matter how strange, the internet has emerged! Internet in space!
“The night is going pretty well. Heads don’t hurt, just throat. July 11th packing up a tent, rest of food and other things in a red deposit bag and leaving it in the tent of Israfil and Andrei.
“10pm We start a long 2 vertical kilometer landing with our associates. On my way about an hour dressing up chillin and fixing things C2 another half an hour take away tent fixing C1. BC we only reach 20 pm – it’s already completely dark. Pace and wellness are not pleasing.
Starting an antibiotic course in the morning with Kalnų gydytojos užrašai. The fact that Andrej decided to leave the expedition is also contributed to all the evils. The clouds cover Broad Peak and surrounding peaks in the morning, avalanche make even the residents of BC who are used to them.
“Tomorrow, July 13th, we will organize an agreement between all expeditions participants on the joint storm of Mountain, because little team will not manage to wise the way to the top. The nearest good air window is scheduled for July 15-18, so there is not much time to fix your health. As always. As always, I hope it works out somehow.”
“4pm moving towards the mountain again in the morning. Sore throat so all pockets are ready for sucking candy on my nose and mouth mask. I’ve decided not to rush or stretch anywhere, but the pace is good. In 8.5 hours reaching C2 and straightened out in the tent enjoying the view of K2.”
July 4th – July 8th
“4pm moving again towards Broad Peak in the morning (8047 m) foot. Unpleasant snow we start climbing the already known route.
C1 (5660 m) reaching 9:30pm The starter of the world. We collect the necessary items from the tent, eat noodles, drink tea and about 11 pm. moving towards C2.
Everything goes well at first, although the backpack is more depressing than it would like. After about 200, we meet Pakistani guides coming from above. While allowing them to get married, so now almost every step needs to be redesigned not one but several kicks into a snow slope.
“Progress is slowing down, views are no longer happy. C2 (6170 m) available only before 17pm It turns out that we are the only living souls in this slope-bitten campground. On one side there is cornice, on the other there is a snow slope, so even when going to the toilet it is worth having an ice cream. Here’s a ′′ wide mountain ′′ for you.
“Pulling hypothermia attractions building a tent in someone’s earlier started to prepare on the site. The 6000 kilocalorie deficit that makes me shake even when I wear a fluffy suit, I can only compensate after midnight when I extra consume almost a liter of hot tea with an energy bar and several glucose pills.
The next day, July 5, Nastya and I are rebuilding a tent 10 meters above, next to Israfil and Andrei tunnel. We are resting.
“Climbers are going to C2 all day with hope to rise to C3 (6950 m) tomorrow, until no one has ever managed to break through. Unfortunately, the plans are destroyed by night snow and we decide to go to BC in the morning.
“Before leaving, we find out that the Hungarian Zoltan in C1 needs help as the climber ′′ burned ′′ eyes. He was taken care of by Belgian climbers who began to go against us. (Zoltan got well soon and climbed with us again after 2 days).
Below C1 we are going through the remains of new avalanches. It turns out that all the slopes have been struck on our taco. Brrrrr… Getting into an avalanche is one of my worst nightmares.
“After reaching the glacier, I am surprised how hardworking nature is – in just a couple of days, snow bridges narrowed.
Still reaching BC in 4 hours. Relaxing, safe – rest. Since there is no internet, we read books (my recommendation: Steve House Beyond the Mountain) and visit other expeditions camps.
“By the way, BC started an interesting game among camp chefs. Usually, the menu is quite common: rice, pasta, vegetable stew and a limited amount of meat and vegetables. However, after bragging about the kitchen pleased them with pizza and fresh mango dessert, we got mango on the same day, and after a couple of days we cut pizza on the lunch table.”
“No matter how strange it is, today, I feel much better. The weather is changing – blowing, a little sun, then blowing again or cold wind. Participants of all expeditions are forced to stay in BC, so we receive many guests in our dome tent – website. What more to do in this weather – unless reading books or watching movies, because internet connection overcast also attacks.
Still hope we get at least a couple of hours of sunshine tomorrow. Maybe you can take a decent shower, wash your clothes (first time after leaving Tin) and visit your friends at K2 BC.
Up again after the conditions improve!”
“It’s starting to snow in camp. Waiting for a couple of hours, but the situation doesn’t change. All climbers, except Americans, are leaving camp. We decide to take the risk of climbing the avalanches we saw next to the route. Good solution because snow is worried, temperature is plus, visibility is limited. All we meet is Russians Vitaly Lazo and Anton from the #deathzonefreeride project that were preparing to reach C2 and Polish Monika Witkowska with Pakistanis who also returned to BC by noon.
After getting down to the glacier, stomach issues take over. Looks like I’m severely poisoned – no strength, bad, everything is in my stomach. Barely moving to bc. Next is black tea and rice diet, TV series watching with colleagues and regular visits to the toilet.
“We are rising not yet. Hurry up we prepare, we grain a couple of boiled eggs, tap with coffee, fill up drinks and start at 5am in the morning.
The backpack is heavy, because until the beginning of the route I carry not only a tent, a sleeping bag, warm clothes, food and gas for 2-3 days, but also high boots, rope and personal climber equipment (additional 6 kg). It’s easier to navigate through the iceberg yesterday, but I still don’t notice one turn. Good thing I felt a mistake quickly and didn’t need to wander – we reach the foot of the mountain, as planned.
There we meet American Sara and Billy, Norwegian Thomas Lone and Pakistani guide team that I found out C1 is planning to build tents for Korean expedition participants. Knowing that there are only a few tents in the camp, I’m going to work for the next 3 hours. Although fixed ropes have already been hung, the ′′ ice cream + trekking stick x 30 step sprints ′′ tactics work best for me. The snow is solid, the ice and rock shed is not marked and dangerous. After reaching 5400m and starting to bake the sun, sprints slow down to 3 x10 steps, but until then there are no other climbers anymore.
10:15pm Standing C1 (5660 m) and looking for room for our tents. My 3 seat dome I bought in Tin for $100 a few days ago needs a big pitch so I’m starting to clean up the snow slope next to the climbing trail. Planning to leave this tent for C1 for the whole season. I have a couple of British and Pakistanis coming to help me in alternating, so after an hour and a half of my work tent I manage to get into the slope of the statues. My co-workers are reaching the camp right now.
Drinking tea for the rest of the day, snacks and snacks in the tent, but the energy level, as my watch shows, doesn’t rise above 6 (out of 100).
12pm Nastya Runova and I are just overcoming 1st portion of high food (rice and chicken curry), preventively taking a pill aspirin and going to bed. The night is not easy, I can’t find a comfortable position, I keep taking it. I feel that stomach is starting to mean dissatisfaction with the height diet.”
“Today I woke up at Broad Peak base camp (4820 m) with the most incredible view of the K2 top! It turns out that it has been 2 weeks since leaving Lithuania, and the expedition is just beginning.”
“A short conclusion of recent days:”
“June 23th we drove along the Braldu River to Jula (Joula) campground (3170 m), to which the road from Askole village was extended. About 100 km trip 4 x4 jeeps lasted 8 hours.”
“On June 24-28, on foot we travelled on Baltor’s ice cream to Brod Peak base camp. One day I had to spend Urdukas (4070 m) campground due to bad weather, but the hike went without big adventures. After a couple of 20 + km with a few hundred meters of rise, the body understood with loads, food and began to acclimatize. We walked about 75 km in total.”
“Today, June 29th, we did stuff inventory and looked at the route to C1. This section is one of the more technical and dangerous. We learned that despite the dry Caracorum winter, no one has yet reached C2 due to unstable snow.
“Since there will be 3 good weather days until the next snow, many teams will go to C2 tomorrow. I will also go, along with Nastya (RU), Andrejum (RU) and Israfil (AZ). The alarm clock will ring in less than 5 hours, so… goodnight and bye”
“It happens – you climb to the top, look around and don’t realize that you already see your next goal. This also happened in 2019 when I saw other giants in Baltistan – Broad Peak (8047 m) and K2 (8611 m) from the peak of Gasherbrum II (8035 m).”
“This time the main goal will be the top of Broad Peak. Our items are already loaded into jeeps and soon we will move towards the Baltic Ice Cream and tomorrow we will walk to BC.”
“Before I leave I want to thank my new partners (and old friends) Balcia extreme insurance as well as Lukla.lt-patogiai kelionei and Tadas Jeršovas mountain doctors Kaste Mateikaite, my ′′ bond soldier ′′ Algimantas Kuras, Giedrius Juzukonis and many others who helped and will help organize this expedition. Really, without your faith, nothing would have happened! “
“Thank you too, dear friend, reading this message and supporting me with your thoughts! “
“Also, after building a telecommunications tower on Concordia, I hope I can write messages about the expedition directly to my Facebook”
“In a word, bye! Keep your fingers crossed!”