PAKISTAN 8000ERS 2022
Pakistan 2022 was something else. To call this phase of my project hard is an understatement, for many reasons, which hopefully I will explain in this update.
It began pretty much straight after my last summit in spring which was Makalu. I had a few days to rest and get my Pakistan visa, which was of course a nightmare as per usual. You really have to apply 3 months in advance to have a chance of receiving it on time, I did it a week before our expeditions where to start! Honestly I don't know how much convincing it took to get the visa approved but we were on the phone every day to the embassy. Once that was out the way we set of for Nanga Parbat.
Nanga Parbat region is an interesting place to say the least... for example you cannot sleep in a tent without a security guard on the trek into basecamp because of the security alerts. In 2013 there was a terrorist attack at Basecamp which killed 11 people. I will admit I was terrified of this place. Now its changed a lot but everything is so unpredictable.
Arriving to Basecamp was terrible, we had constant rain and snow the whole way, all our clothes were soaked through and there was definitely no waiting around for a nicer day. Me and Gelje were quite late to Basecamp, because of my Visa and so all our team was already there and they were a great bunch, a lot of serious climbers for sure, but all in all we had a laugh. There were a few robberies and tense moments, like when we got greeted by men with huge guns who then proceeded to shoot into the air, as a sort of welcome greeting, strange and scary.
I knew Nanga Parbat was going to be hard, I heard the stories of the Kinshofer wall, I knew it was a longer summit day but the reality was that this was 100x harder than I could've ever imagined.
We did one rotation to camp 2 which is where I first came face to face with the dreaded wall. Its an intimidating place. A 200m vertical rock wall with pretty much nowhere to place your hands and feet, especially the last ten metres which is just a slab of rock smoother than a babies ass. This part at the end required a bit of assistance thank to the Italian team.
I cried at camp 2, 'how was I gonna do that again'.
Summit push! We went directly from BC to camp 2 in one day (11 hours), it was seriously mentally fatiguing and not to mention by achilles were killing me from the constant pressure on the calves. The problem with Nanga is it is literally vertical all the way and there was no snow, minimal snow and every step therefore was onto ice. We then went on upwards to camp 3 where we rested around 6 hour before heading out for summit push on our own, just me and Gelje.
Summit push, the ascent anyway, was not too bad, in fact I was pleasantly surprised... The way down however was a different story. Since there were no fixed lines from summit to camp 3, the first 300m descent from the top was extremely dangerous. By this point we had caught up with two other climbers who weren't using any method of fixing but rather just holding onto a rope between the two. Gelje and I were not okay with this so Gelje created a system where he would sit on an ice axe which was used as an anchor and everyone was descend on that rope, however then Gelje would have to come down without any anchor as he was the last. It was risky but had to be done.
Getting down to BC was also incredibly risky, for the first time in my life I actually thought this could be the end. It was pitch black, our headlamps were out of battery and the whole face from camp 2 to BC was a river. The fixing team had decided to fix the lines in the middle of the face instead of the rocky edges and so every anchor was coming out. On top of that, the rock and ice fall from the Kinshofer wall was insane. There wasn't ever a moment where there wasn't a rock hurtling down, the reality was that if it hit you, you were dead. It was a game of Russian roulette with our lives.
Once we got back to BC, luckily in one piece, we left the next day to continue our journey in Pakistan, next was Broad Peak.
In Pakistan there is an added task which is the treks! Helicopters aren't an option in Pakistan and so we had to trek from to and from N.P, then to K2 BC and then out of K2 BC which overall is almost 250km extra of walking on top of 3 8000ers. We arrived at K2 BC pretty exhausted. K2 and Broad Peak are only an hour walk apart and so we decided to base ourselves at K2 instead of moving our belongings back and forth. So after a couple of days we set of for Broad Peak summit push, we decided to go straight to camp 2, which wasn't to difficult, but the conditions on all the moments where so dry this year, so most of the mountains are just full of rivers and very slippery snow. Camp 2 then to camp 3 and again another few hours of rest before summit push. Those few hours are always so strange, you know you have around 6 or so hours to rest which is not enough time to sleep but also a long time to stay awake in tent, so what to do? Usually I eat as much as possible and attempt to go to the toilet at some point before it gets too cold, 9/10 times failing.
Before we began our summit push that night one British climber fell to his death from the Rocky summit and landed around 50m from Camp 3, the mood was quite unsettling.
We pushed through the tragic news and reached summit around 6am the next morning where I was able to Facetime my parents with the new 4g system and enjoy some pretty spectacular views of K2.
Once we arrived back to K2 BC we had a couple of days to wash clothes and prepare for K2! Something has always drawn me to this mountain more than any other - I guess its a combination of experiencing K2 in Winter and just the beauty of this immense thing. I was excited, nervous but most of all very tired. K2 for me was probably the easier of the three summits in Pakistan because its a quick mountain, you're going up vertically the whole way and so there are no long traverses or winding paths.