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K2 2016 Dispatches

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K2 2016 Climbing Season Recap:

Our K2 2016 team made a great effort to climb the peak but it was not meant to be. We are thankful that nobody was injured in the avalanche that came down from high on the mountain on July 23rd and took our Camp 3 and Camp 4 deposit off the mountain.  This avalanche resulted in the cancellation of the climbing season for all teams on K2 in 2016.  We have enjoyed our time in Pakistan and feel very lucky to have experienced this incredible mountain range, the Karakorum.  Please read the National Geographic article here for more information on the recent K2 climbing season.

To Higher Places!

Garrett Madison

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Amazing Youtube video by Petr Jan Juracka with beautiful drone shots of our 2016 K2 ascent.

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Below please also enjoy 2016 K2 climber Takayasu Semba’s photo’s from the expedition.

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“After our summit attempt on K2 we trekked out over the Gondogoro pass; rocks, snow & ice, a jeep ride then flight today back to Islamabad. Nobody summited K2 for the second year in a row. Feeling very happy & lucky to be heading home after a great expedition!”

Garrett Madison – 2016 K2 Expedition Leader

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Our 2016 K2 climbers are now trekking out of the Karakoram as they begin the long journey back home. Below is a collection of beautiful photos taken by climber Stuart Erskine as well as a overview of the season ending avalanche that took out our high camps.

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“The avalanche passed by us and a lot of our oxygen bottles made huge bangs as they exploded hitting rocks and debris. We lost all our summit supplies from Camp 3 and Camp 4 including our tents, over 40 full O2 bottles, ropes to fix to the summit, equipment and personal supples. It spelt the end of our chances of summiting K2 for 2016. Very unlucky to loose everything needed to summit, but so so lucky we were not in Camp 3 when the avalanche went through camp as we would have had 40 to 60 people in Camp 3. Nobody was injured or killed in the avalanche. All teams lost everything required to summit K2 for 2016, so nobody will summit for 2016. The same event happened in 2015.”

-Stuart Erskine

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Camp 2 on K2.

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Garrett Madison climbing on the fixed ropes from Camp 1 to Camp 2 on K2 on July 22, 2016. Broad Peak the 12 highest mountain in the world is on the left. The Godwin Austin glacier flowing down the valley to Concordia, which is the junction where the Godwin Austin glacier meets the Baltoro glacier.

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A few climbers camp just before the bottleneck between Camp 1 and Camp 2 on K2 during the 2016 climbing season. Other than the regular camps 1, 2, 3 and 4, this is one of the only level places on K2 to pitch a tent.

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Climbing from Camp 1 to Camp 2 on July 22, 2016 during our third and final summit rotation on K2 for 2016.

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Arriving at Camp 1 on K2 on July 21, 2016 in fog, snow and wind.

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Arriving at Camp 1 on July 21, 2016 on our third and final summit rotation on K2.

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Trekking at 4:30 AM from K2 Base Camp to Camp 1 up the Godwin Austin glacier to the start of the Abruzi Ridge route on July 21, 2016 on our third and final summit rotation on K2.

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Trekking at 5:30 AM from K2 Base Camp to Camp 1 up the Godwin Austin glacier to the start of the Abruzi Ridge route on July 21, 2016 on our third and final summit rotation on K2.

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Returning to K2 Base Camp after the massive avalanche took out Camp 3 and Camp 4.

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The upper Karakoram Valley is very desolate and barren. It’s extremely hard to find any form of plant life. Showing Broad Peak and the Godwin Austin glacier.

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Wait, there is life! With the guidance of our Pakistani military Liaison Officer we found a very small pocket of diversified plant life in the upper Karakoram Valley on the side of Angel Peak and K2.

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Broad Peak, the Godwin Austin glacier and K2 Base Camp seen from the small location where plants and flowers where found and photographed.

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From left, Angel Peak, K2 and Broad Peak at night with trailing stars in the sky. You can see a light from K2 Base Camp.

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The upper Karakoram Valley of Northeastern Pakistan is a barren and desolate place and it is very difficult to find any form of life. On our 2016 Expedition to climb K2 we found a small area on the side of Angel Peak and K2 of very diversified plant life included mosses, lichens, grasses and flowering plants.

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Our team is now back down in base camp after our K2 summit attempt. Tomorrow was supposed to be our summit day, the weather currently looks perfect as predicted, clear skies and no wind. We had everything in position for our summit attempt, after about 5 weeks of preparations, we had established our high camps, had climbed to camp 3, and were looking forward to our summit. But it was not meant to be, as when we were preparing to climb from camp 1 to camp 2 on the morning of July 23, we saw a big avalanche come down the mountain. We later learned that this avalanche was massive, had started somewhere near our camp 4, and had covered nearly a third of the mountain down to the base,  taking out our camps 3 & 4, nothing was left. We were lucky that we were not in these camps when the avalanche occurred. Without our equipment for our summit attempt (tents, oxygen, ropes, food, etc) we cannot continue our climb, we are now heading home, as are all teams. Yesterday we searched the avalanche debris field at the base of the mountain, about 7000′ below where the slide began,  but found nothing,  as the debris was around 10-20 ft. deep in most areas. We will leave base camp in a couple of days and trek out,  then fly or drive to Islamabad and fly home. Even though we did not make the summit we had a great experience and and are thankful for the time we had in this beautiful mountain range. -Garrett Madison

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Massive avalanche on K2, camps 3 and 4 totally gone without a trace: All members currently safe in camp 2. Expedition now finished as all equipment for summit attempt (tents, oxygen, ropes, food, etc) has been lost.

-Garrett Madison

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Expedition leader Garrett Madison called in this morning to report that the team has safely reached Camp 1 and are now pinned down with harsh weather conditions. The team will wait and see if the weather stabilizes before moving higher on K2.

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This is a wind graph that we use to make data driven decisions on K2. Michael Fagin and team at West Coast Weather provide our expeditions around the world with advanced forecasting models. Michael Fagin has a background in weather forecasting for major expedition groups that climb K2 and other climbing venues. He is experienced in climate data retrieval and analysis for clients around the world.

K2 Wind Graph

*Forecast issued on July 22, 2016 and weather needs to be monitored as the weather patterns can and do change over time.

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Our climbers and guides climbing to Camp 1.

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In one day or so our international expedition of four climbers, two guides and six Sherpas will be leaving on their third and final climbing rotation, their K2 summit rotation. We expect the summit rotation to take six days to summit and return to K2 Base Camp.

Beautiful photos taken by Stuart Erskine.

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This is the first time we’ve seen K2 in a week or so as it has been non-stop fog and blowing snow.

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Broad Peak, the Godwin Austin Glacier and K2 Base Camp from partway up K2 Glacier.

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K2 glacier looking up to K2.

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K2 glacier and K2 in the middle, with Angle Peak to the left and Broad Peak to the right.

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At K2 Base Camp we’ve had snow, fog and rain for over a week now since July 13, 2016. This is our first nice day of weather and we are experiencing a lot of avalanches. This avalanche coming high off K2 from the bottleneck at over 27,000 ft has some serious propulsion and just misses the top of K2 Base Camp. The debris goes all the way across the valley towards the base of Broad Peak.

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Life is a balance. Stuart, a rock and K2.

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Stuart and his Sherpa climbed up onto the K2 glacier to the base of K2 to ponder their upcoming summit bid and contemplate safe passage on the mountain.

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The Madison Mountaineering USA International K2 Expedition are having a 7-8 day break between their second rotation that got them up as high as Camp 3 at 24,500 ft on K2 and their final K2 summit rotation. During that rest time it’s important for the guides, climbers and Sherpas to eat well, stay healthy and active.

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Photos taken by K2 2016 climber Stuart Erskine

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Climbers, Guides, Sherpas and Porters at Camp 3 at 24,500 ft or 7,550 meters in the morning during their second rotation. Everyone is getting ready to head back down to K2 Base Camp after the weather conditions changed and high summit winds started for the next 6-10 days. Broad Peak the 12th highest mountain in the world at 8,051 meters or 26,414 ft high is in the background right. The high summit winds are obvious on the summit of Broad Peak in this photo and K2 is 560 meters or 1,837 ft higher than Broad Peak.

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Garrett and Simba climbing down part of the Black Pyramid from Camp 3 to Camp 2 on K2.

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Climbers, Sherpas and Porters resting part way down from K2 Camp 3 at 24,500 ft and on their way to Advance Base Camp (ABC) at 17,500 ft. K2 is so steep, rocky and icy that 80 to 90 percent of the 7,000 ft climb down has to be done by repelling on fixed ropes for most climbers which will take about 8 to 9 hours. This is normally followed by a 2 to 3 hour trek from ABC at 17,500 ft to K2 Base Camp at 16,500 ft, all in the same day.

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An avalanche across the valley from Broad Peak Base Camp. Avalanches, rock and ice fall are regular occurrences each day during the climbing season in the Karakoram Mountain Range. The mountains are very steep and the constant changes in temperature, weather and ground conditions creates a lot of falling debris which can be very dangerous for climbers and their support teams.

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Anyone have the phone number for the K2 Fire Department?

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During this rest day the two guides and four climbers walked down to Broad Peak Base Camp which is about three hours round trip. Broad Peak is the neighboring mountain to K2 and is the 12th highest mountain in the world at 8,051 meters or 26,414 ft high. In this photo the Madison Mountaineering team is enjoying some hospitality from a climbing team attempting to climb Broad Peak, in their dinning tent.

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Our four climbers and two guides with the staff from Broad Peak Base Camp when we trekked down to visit their Base Camp.

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Our chef Antony and his kitchen staff are barbecuing some fresh chicken for supper.

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After reaching Camp 3 yesterday our team was faced with high winds on the upper face of K2 and were forced to return to base camp. All team members are now down safely enjoying a warm meal by our amazing chef Antony Dubber. Our team will now rest and prepare for a third ascent within the next week based on weather forecasts.

Photos taken by Stuart Erskine.

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Madison Mountaineering Base Camp with K2 in the background.

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A banner on one of our tents in K2 Base Camp shows our teams route up K2 and the location of our camps.

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Today our K2 climbing team safely climbed the Black Pyramid section between Camp 2 and Camp 3 along the Abruzzi Spur route. The weather is changing quickly and our team is unsure if they will be able to push higher up the mountain with high winds approaching. Tomorrow morning our team will assess the weather conditions and make a decision.

Photos taken by Stuart Erskine.

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Climbers, Sherpas and Porters leaving K2 Camp 2 for Camp 3 at 8:00 AM July 12, 2016.

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Climbers, Sherpas and Porters climbing from Camp 2 to Camp 3 on K2 on July 12, 2016.

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Climbers, Sherpas and Porters climbing from Camp 2 to Camp 3 on K2 on July 12, 2016. In the background is Broad Peak and the Godwin Austin Glacier flowing down to Concordia junction where it meets up with the Baltoro Glacier.

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Climbers, Sherpas and Porters climbing from Camp 2 to Camp 3 on K2 on July 12, 2016.

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Climbers, Sherpas and Porters climbing from Camp 2 to Camp 3 on K2 on July 12, 2016. In the background is Broad Peak and the Godwin Austin Glacier flowing down to Concordia junction where it meets up with the Baltoro Glacier.

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Broad Peak and the Godwin Austin Glacier flowing down to Concordia junction where it meets up with the Baltoro Glacier. Photo is from 23,500 ft up the Abruzi Ridge on K2.

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Climbers, Sherpas and Porters climbing from Camp 2 to Camp 3 on K2 on July 12, 2016. In the background is Broad Peak and the Godwin Austin Glacier flowing down to Concordia junction where it meets up with the Baltoro Glacier.

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Our Japanese climber Simba is just leaving Camp 1 on K2 on his way to Camp 2. Camp 1 and the Godwin Austin Glacier is in the background.

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Arriving at Camp 2 on K2, on the afternoon of July 11, 2016.

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Looking at the pass and border between Pakistan and China. This photo is taken halfway between Camp 1 and Camp 2 on K2 at about 21,000 ft ASL.

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Broad Peak and the Godwin Austin Glacier flowing down to Concordia junction where it meets up with the Baltoro Glacier. This photo is taken between Camp 2 and Camp 3 on K2 at about 23,000 ft ASL on July 12, 2014.

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Climbers, Guides, Sherpas and Porters climbing from Camp 2 to Camp 3 up the steep, rocky and icy section called the Black Pyramid at about 23,000 ft ASL on K2 on July 12, 2016.

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Our Nepalese Sherpas take a break for a moment on a ridge as they climb from Camp 2 to Camp 3 on K2 at about 23,000 ft ASL on July 12, 2016. In the background is Broad Peak and the Godwin Austin Glacier flowing down to Concordia junction where it meets up with the Baltoro Glacier.

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Climbers, Guides, Sherpas and Porters climbing from Camp 2 to Camp 3 up the steep, rocky and icy section called the Black Pyramid at about 23,000 ft ASL on K2 on July 12, 2016.

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Rene our climber takes a break for a moment on a ridge as he climbs from Camp 2 to Camp 3 on K2 at about 23,000 ft ASL on July 12, 2016. In the background is Broad Peak and the Godwin Austin Glacier flowing down to Concordia junction where it meets up with the Baltoro Glacier.

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Our Climber, Guides, Sherpas and Porters climb up the steep, rocky and icy section called the Black Pyramid from Camp 2 to Camp 3 on K2 at about 23,000 ft ASL on July 12, 2016.

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Our Climber, Guides, Sherpas and Porters climb up the steep, rocky and icy section called the Black Pyramid from Camp 2 to Camp 3 on K2 at about 23,000 ft ASL on July 12, 2016. We are experiencing all kinds of snow, rock and ice conditions on K2.

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Arriving at Camp 3 on K2 at about 24,000 ft ASL and about 4:00 PM after a long nine hours of steep, rocky, icy and all sorts of snow condition in the Black Pyramid section between Camp 2 and Camp 3 of K2 on July 12, 2016.

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