July 2018

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The K2 team is back in Islamabad and heading home! After our successful climb of K2 we trekked over 100 kilometers from K2 base camp to the village of Askoli, along the Baltoro glacier past the iconic Trango Towers, then drove by Jeep along the Braldu river gorge to Skardu where we spent the night and had a celebration dinner with our whole team of climbers, Pakistan staff and Nepal Sherpas. Yesterday we flew from Skardu to Islamabad.

We had a very successful expedition with 8 of our K2 clients reaching the summit on July 22nd, along with 3 mountain guides, 9 Nepal Sherpas, and 4 of our Pakistan high altitude porters. We were very fortunate to have a perfect day on top, with great views all around, and little wind at the summit.

I attribute our success to hard work, a little luck, and a lot of preparation! It’s been a great season for us in the Karakorum mountain range!

K2 summit celebration cake

Our K2 summit celebration cake

tent high on K2

Geoff, John, and Garrett in the tent high on K2!

Straight from head guide, Mark Tucker, here is the full recap of summit day on Mt. Elbrus:

We got pretty lucky with the weather — except for it trying to blow us off the summit ridge! And then after we descended the fixed lines (that are installed annually to protect against a fall on the steep terrain) we hit some white-out conditions, but just for a bit. Aside from that, I guess you could call it a beautiful day on the mountain!!! Which it was.

We started with a bit of help from a snow-cat at 02:00 AM moving up the lower part of the climb.

After a few hours of climbing, we were welcomed by a beautiful warming sunrise. We were fortunate to witness the very unique sight of the mountain’s shadow being cast on the horizon by the rising Sun. The beautiful hues of pinks, blues, and greys were enough to take your breath away. Or was it because were were working so hard at 17,000’? 🙂

The team did a fantastic job taking care of themselves and climbing strong. On the last bit to the top, the wind was blowing so hard that the team gathered even more strength to crawl to the summit! We hunkered down for a quick couple of photos.

Everyone did an awesome job heading down safe, healthy and yes, a bit tired!

Just in, tons of photos from the Mt. Elbrus summit day, enjoy…

Head guide, Sid Pattison reports:

Welp, we are on our way! After a full day of gear checking, packing, shopping and putsing around Arusha, we are finally on our way to Machame gate!
The crew is psyched, our local staff have been amazing and we are excited to get some miles under our boots!

Exciting news in this quick text-only update from Lead guide Mark Tucker. More details and PHOTOS to follow:

  • 16 of us left high camp at 2am
  • 16 of us literary crawled to the tallest point in Europe due to high winds
  • 16 of us are now in the forest of Cheget 7000’

I call it a nice day!!

Congratulations to the entire team for 100% success on reaching the top of Europe – Mt. Elbrus (5,642 m / 18,510 ft) and descending safely to the lush valley below.

Seven Summit: Mt. Elbrus

Lead guide Mark Tucker just provided this expedition update via phone from the comfortable LEAPrus huts on Mt. Elbrus:

The team is in bed for some final rest before the summit push in about four hours! Weather is looking good with just some clouds down below in the valley. Everyone is fired up for the summit climb and ready for the alpine start. We will check in again soon.

Life is good here at 3,900 m / 12,800 ft! We made an easy departure from our hotel with a great breakfast filling our stomachs! After the short transfer to the lift system and following the same drill as yesterday, but this time loaded with lots more gear for our stay at the luxurious LEAPrus huts. At the top of the lifts, a snow-cat was waiting to take us up several more meters to the wonderful accommodations that are shaped like a giant barrel on it’s side.

After a nice lunch, we were off for another training hike. Just a little over 4,267 m / 14,000 ft. we turned back towards the huts while continuing our training and briefings to prepare for the summit day ahead.

Weather was perfect and the team is in top shape!!

It was a nice day in the mountains! After breakfast, the few missing pieces needed to form complete climbing kits for some of our team members were tracked down. In Terskol, nice equipment is available for hire and the next thing you know it is getting put to use!

We took the day to make a dry run for tomorrow’s training program. Three ski lifts up and you are at 3,658 m / 12,000 ft. and it’s acclimatize on! Hey, never walk when you can ride! Top of this chain of lifts puts you right on the lower flank of the upper mountain, a perfect place for a few hours of snow school. The team is in fine shape with a nice introduction to snow travel and well trained for tomorrow’s move up. It’s really nice to run through the drill and tighten up the process and techniques to make for an easier day going up – knowledge is power!

The old adage of climb high, sleep low could not have been done better. The team is in good shape and spirits are high!!

[ small sized pictures of big sized adventure! ]

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All of our climbers and equipment are off the mountain and we are preparing to begin the 100 kilometer trek from K2 Base Camp to Askole, down the Baltoro Glacier past the Great Trango Tower and back to where we began our journey nearly 6 weeks ago.

On July 22nd, we had an incredible, and very rare, summit day on K2. All 8 of our clients who began the summit rotation made it to the top along with 3 guides, 9 Nepali Sherpas and 4 Pakistani HAP (high altitude porters). In terms of total team size reaching the summit, I have been told by our liaison officer here with us that we have set a record! We were very fortunate to have had perfect conditions as we climbed to the top of K2 and then back down to our Camp 2. The last couple of days here in Base Camp we have been breaking down camp and packing up for the long trek out.

It’s been an incredible experience here in the Karakorum, and we are all thankful that we finished the climb without any accidents or injuries / fatalities as some other teams sadly experienced this season on K2.

K2 summit

K2 summit

The 2018.07 Elbrus expedition team today had a timely and smooth flight from Moscow to Mineralnye Vody, grabbed some supplies at a local grocery, and hit the road via bus for Terskol – at the base of Mt. Elbrus.

Along the way they enjoyed fresh made chicken sandwiches (Wolfgang Tuck style!) while avoiding herds of milk cows roaming down the middle of highway!

Cleaning up before dinner was quite the experience! There was no hot water!! Flooding in the valley knocked out the natural gas supply. All was forgotten as the team shared a wonderful farm to table dinner. The stunning alpine glow at sunset highlighted the amazing view of the Caucasus mountain range.

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