by Kraig Becker
This past weekend was expected to be a very busy one on the second tallest mountain in the world. Meteorologists had predicted improving weather conditions on K2 that would grant climbers access to the summit and as a result most teams were on the move in order to be in position to take advantage of this opportunity. While the weather window did indeed open as expected the climbers found the route to the summit impassable due to large amounts of snow and were forced to abandon their attempt. The conditions are so bad in fact that some have decided to cancel further attempts and return home.
The summit bids began last Wednesday when the climbers left Base Camp to start their ascents. The following day they managed to reach Camp 2, located at 6700 meters (21,980 ft), where they discovered heavy snow had covered the route. Reportedly as much as seven feet of fresh powder blocked the way, bringing an abrupt halt to their expeditions. All of that snow created unstable conditions on the slopes and resulted in avalanches occurring at higher altitude.
Considering K2′s reputation for being extremely dangerous under normal circumstances, most of the climbers felt that discretion was the better part of valor and immediately turned back to Base Camp. They spent the weekend reassessing the situation and now most have made the tough decision to abandon their climbs altogether and return home. With conditions as challenging as they are this year, it is now highly unlikely that anyone will summit the mountain this season.
Amongst those canceling their expeditions were Wenger Ambassador Mike Horn and his teammates Fred Roux and Köbi Reichen. The trio had been planning an ascent without the use of supplemental oxygen, and Mike and Fred had hoped to paraglide off the summit. With those plans now scrubbed, they will head head home instead.
Finally, there is sad news from K2 today as well. While most of the teams turned back on their summit attempts because of the conditions, the father-son climbing team of Marty and Denali Schmidt elected to climb up to Camp 3 located at 7350 meters (24,100 ft). That has proven to be a fatal error as both men are now reportedly lost. An avalanche swept C3 off the mountain and the two climbers from New Zealand are reportedly lost. Our condolences to their friends in family during this time.
[Photo Credit: Svy123 via WikiMedia]