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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

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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Our K2 climbers arrived safely at Camp 2 at 22,000ft or 6,700 meters ASL today. The team will rest and closely monitor the weather as they move higher up the mountain. Based on our current weather forecasts the team will be able to climb to Camp 3 tomorrow at roughly 24,770 ft or 7,550 meters ASL.

Photos taken by Stuart Erskine.

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Stuart at Camp 2 on K2. China is in the distance. Notice the tents in the background that have been destroyed by storms, which can be ferocious on K2.

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Climbing towards the chimney section of K2, between Camp 1 and Camp 2. A climber is heading into the chimney section ahead of us.

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Garrett Madison our expedition leader stops to talk to our Nepalese Sherpa on his two way radio. The Sherpas are installing fixed ropes further up on K2.

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The Madison Mountaineering 2016 K2 Expedition has four climbers, two western guides, and six Nepalese Sherpas. Our neighboring Swiss K2 expedition has eight climbers, two western guides and ten Sherpas. We are very international as we have 13 climbers from 11 countries. We are working closely and well together with the Swiss expedition. We also have about 20 Pakistani high altitude porters that will carry loads to higher camps and 15 cook and camp staff between the two expeditions. The two expeditions are working together with all route fixing, camp establishment and summit bid preparations. The two expeditions plan to be on close timing of their K2 summit bids, but each expedition will be climbing separate from each other. Due to the extreme steepness of the terrain on the Abruzi route of K2, at C1, C2 and C3 space for tent sites is very limited to only six to nine safe tent locations, so the two expeditions have to be staggered at these camps so there is adequate tent availability for climbers, guides and Sherpas on the summit bid. Good cooperation and careful coordination is critical as our summit bid weather window could be unpredictable and will likely be short.

K2 Camps: We have six camps on the Abruzi route of K2 that have to be established and all with separate tents. Therefore the Madison Mountaineering expedition has almost 70 tents. The camps are Base Camp (BC), Advanced Base Camp (ABC), Camp 1 (C1) , Camp 2 (C2), Camp 3 (C3), Camp 4 (C4) and the summit.

Current progress: Our collective Sherpas have previously established the fixed ropes to 200 meters below C3 (C3 is at 7,550 metres or 24,800 ft) over the last 10 days. On July 5, 6 and 7 the collective Sherpas climbed to C2 for their second time, and attempted to complete the installation of the fixed ropes to C3 and push ahead fixing ropes to C4. However K2 had a different plan. The weather the last few days at C2 was very high winds, blowing snow and very cold. The Sherpas waited at C2 in our tents for two days then finally have to retreat back to BC on July 8, 2016, unfortunately without any progress. With the difficult weather, terrain and altitude, the Sherpas are tired and will require a rest for a few days after this attempt, to try a third attempt to push higher up K2 above C2.

Work to be completed: Currently the Sherpas still have to install the fixed ropes from 200 meters or 600 ft below C3 to the summit of K2 (which is about 4,000 ft from C3 to the summit), establishing C3 and C4 camps and stocking C3 and C4 with tents, food, fuel, O2, equipment and other supplies.

According to our current weather reports, the next possible weather window for the Sherpas and Porters to complete their work will be from July 11 to 14. Then the Sherpas will require a rest for a few days. Currently high winds are predicted high on K2 from July 13 to 15 therefore at this time, our possible summit bid window has been moved back from July 10 to 17, to July 15 to 22.

Note on O2: Climbers, guides and Sherpas (total of about 30 people) for the two expeditions will be on full O2 from C2 to K2 summit and back to C2 on summit bid. The two expeditions will requiring over 120 bottles of O2 to be in place at the respective camps of C2, C3 and C4. Each bottle weighs about eight pounds when full of O2 and a Sherpa or Porter will normally carry 4-5 full bottles up the mountain. It’s 2-3 days to C4 from BC for Sherpas and Porters with a load as they also have to carry their own food, eating and sleeping gear.

Beautiful photos taken by climber Stuart Erskine

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K2 Base Camp

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Muhammad Mohsin Khan is the Pakistani military Liaison Officer with the Madison Mountaineering 2016 K2 expedition. Mohsin is from Peshawar, KPK, Pakistan and has a wife and three kids, one girl aged eight years old, two boys ages two and four years old. He has fourteen years of air force military service and is currently an air traffic controller for military and civilian flights. All expeditions to the Northeastern region of Pakistan are required to have a military Liaison Officer with the expedition at all times, which means from the time all foreign members arrive it Pakistan to the time they all leave Pakistan. The Liaison Officers responsibilities are to check all members permits and security clearance and correct paperwork for the expedition. Each Liaison Officers are selected by Pakistani military and must be military officers with significant military and mountaineering experience and qualifications.

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Klara Kolouchoua lives in Prague, Czech Republic with her husband and two kids, one boy two years old and a girl eight years old. Klara started climbing in 2005 and has summited Aconcagua, Cho Oyu, Everest North Face, Denali West Rib, Elbrus plus various other peaks in Europe. Klara was the first Czech lady to climb Everest in 2007 and climbed with Tashi Tenzing, the grandson on Tenzing Norgay, the first summiter of Everest with Edmond Hillary. When asked why K2? She said: “it’s the right mountain at the right time of her life”.

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Takayasu Semba lives in Tokyo, Japan with his wife and one daughter aged 20. Takayasu started climbing internationally in 2013 and climbed all of the seven summits in two years and also summited Manaslu, Matterhorn, Monte Blanc, Wascarun, Peru. When asked why K2? His response was; ” the challenge and commaradery”.

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Antony Dubber, our expedition chef is from Hertfordshire, England and has been a chef for 20 years. His chef career started with three years training at a chefs college in Hertfordsire, then working in a local bakery, and working his way up the chef ladder to corporate dinning, fine dinning, restuarant work, expedition chef, contract chef work, then a private chef for some of the rich and famous. Antony has been a chef on three separate 18 month long expeditions for British Antarctic Survey in Halley, Antartica which is at 76 degrees south. He has also been a chef for Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions for four summers at Union Glacier, Antartica. He has also been the chef at Everest Base Camp for Jagged Globe Expeditions for two years. Antony was a chef on South Georgia, Sub-Antarctic Islands for the Scottish Heritage Trust for a rat and reindeer eradication project for four months and also a chef for a boutique hotel in Svalbard, Northern Norway. Antony does various contracts as a chef around the world including working as an chef on super yachts in the Mediterranean for the rich and famous and as a chef on oil rigs off the north east coast of Scotland. He is our expedition chef at K2 Base Camp for 2016.

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Rene Bergsmr lives in Amsterdam, Holland with his wife and they have no kids. Rene was initially a marathon runner and ran over 30 marathons. He started climbing thirty years ago by completing all the courses available with the Dutch climbing club. He started climbing in Europe and climbed the Matterhorn, Eiger, Monte Blanc, Jungfrau, Weisshorn and Schreckhorn. Rene began climbing Internationally in 2004 doing the seven summits, Mt. Alpamayo in Peru, Mt. Cotopaxi and Chimborazo in Ecuador and Manaslu, Lhotse, Makalu and Ama Dablam in Nepal. Rene attempted K2 and Broad Peak in 2015. He is hoping to summit K2 in 2016 and Broad Peak, G1 or G2 for 2017.

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Stuart Erskine lives in Camrose, Alberta, Canada and has three daughters ages 24, 19 and 17. He is a marathoner, ultra marathoner and adventure racer and started climbing in June 2014 by attending a climbing course on Mt. Rainier, Washington, USA. Since then, Stuart have summited all of the Seven Summits, Mt Whitney and skied to the South Pole in 22 months.

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Shinji Tamura is originally from Osaka, Japan but has lived in Zermatt, Switzerland since 1989 with his wife and their 18 year old boy and 15 year old daughter. Shinji is a international mountaineering and skiing guide and owns a travel agency in Zermatt. Shinji has summited Everest four times, Cho Oyu twice, Manaslu three times, Ama Dablam once and various other international mountains.

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Garrett Madison the company owner and expedition leader lives in Seattle and had been guiding professionally since 1999. Garrett previously guided and was guide manager for Alpine Ascents for eight years before starting his own guiding company, Madison Mountaineering company in 2014. Garrett has summited Everest seven times, K2 once, Lhotse twice, Ama Dablam three times, Vinson ten times, Aconcagua twelve times and many other international mountains. This is Garretts third time leading expeditions to K2.

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The Muslim Pakistani high altitude porters, kitchen staff and camp helpers are celebrating the end of Ramadan for 2016 with some traditional Balti singing and dancing.

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Yesterday we completed our K2 climbing rotation of 5 nights above base camp, up to Camp 2. We climbed the Abruzzi ridge route and notable features such as House’s chimney to reach our Camp 2, where we spent 2 nights. Yesterday we descended in winds and snow (stormy weather) to base camp, where we enjoyed another amazing dinner by our base camp chef Antony Dubber.
Photos taken by 2016 K2 expedition climber Stuart Erskine
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Petr flying one of his drones at K2 Base Camp with K2 in the background. In this photo Petr is landing the drone after a flight, directly into his hand.

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Petr flying one of his drones at K2 Base Camp with K2 in the background.

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Petr climbing to Camp 1 on K2 at 20,000 ft or 6,100 meters ASL with his camera equipment and drone in his backpack.

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Petr flying one of his drones at Camp 1 on K2 which is at 20,000 ft or 6,100 metres ASL. He flew for three minutes which could be the highest altitude drone flight on K2.

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Looking up K2 from Camp 2. The weather is very fickle and highly changeable on K2, which ads to the other dangers on this mountain. The top you see here is far from the summit, which is still about 6,500 ft from this location of Camp 2. Note the tents that are destroyed by previous bad weather and how the current tents are tied down in preparation for bad weather.

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This is the kitchen tent where food is prepared for the four climbers, two guides, photographer and chef. Antony Dubber from the UK is our chef and is preparing a soup for lunch. We have Antony our chef and his five kitchen helpers cooking for eight of us.

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A typical Base Camp lunch for the climbers and guides which is prepared by our chef Antony and his five kitchen helpers. While at Base Camp meal times are typically 8:00 AM, 1:00 PM and 6:30 PM.

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Our first rotation. This is Camp 2 on K2 in the middle of summer at 22,000 ft or 6,700 meters ASL. K2 is a steep, inhospitable and dangerous place when the weather is not on your side. High winds and blowing snow kept us in our tents for 36 hours, before we retreated in bad weather back down the steep mountainside of K2. From Camp 2, to Camp 1, to Advanced Base Camp (ABC) to Base Camp in one day. From Camp 2 at 22,000 ft to ABC at 17,500 ft is 4,500 ft altitude loss, of which about 80% of it has to be repelled on a rope as its too steep to free climb or arm wrap a rope down.

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Living on a glacier has its challenges as the glacier is constantly melting, moving and changing. Our team spends time each day repairing the bases for all of the personal sleeping tent sites.

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K2 Base Camp on July 5, 2016
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Two Pakistani army helicopters have flown from Skardu to K2 Base Camp (50 minutes one way) to evacuate one climber on another team that has altitude sickness. K2 is seen on the left and Broad Peak on the right with the Godwin Austin glacier in that middle. K2 Base Camp is behind the landed helicopter.

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One of our climbers, Mark Shuttleworth, was having knee issues  and has left the expedition and is now on his way home, below is a photo of Mark with 3 Army majors, who flew him out from base camp to Skardu yesterday.

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We climbed from Camp 1 to Camp 2 on the Abruzzi ridge on K2, House’s Chimney was one of the most interesting parts of the climb, steep rock and ice for about 60 feet. We had some inclement weather in the afternoon, big gusts of wind and some snow, now it has calmed down, and the view was spectacular! We are all tucked into our tents and resting, everyone is doing well.

-Garrett Madison

Photos taken by Stuart Erskine

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Climbers, guides, sherpas and Pakistani high altitude porters are climbing from Camp 1 to Camp 2 on K2. Camp 1 and Advanced Base Camp are visible in the background directly below the climbers.

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Climbers getting ready to leave Camp 1 on K2 to climb to Camp 2 on July 1, 2016. Broad Peak and the Godwin Austin Glacier are in the background.

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Climbing from Camp 1 to Camp 2 on K2, July 1 2016

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Climbing from Camp 1 to Camp 2 on K2, July 1 2016

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Climbing from Camp 1 to Camp 2 on K2, July 1 2016. K2 is extremely steep and rugged with highly erratic weather.

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Climbing up the steep section of K2.

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Climbing up from the chimney section towards Camp 2 on K2.

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Two climbers make their way up through fog, wind and light snow to Camp 2. The weather is notoriously changeable on K2. Being prepared for the extremes of K2’s weather is a challenge, especially at higher altitudes.

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Camp 2 on K2. It’s way steeper than it looks. At Camp 1 and 2 you need your boots, crampons, harness and to be clipped into a fixed rope or to a tent if you want to walk around. Broad Peak, the Godwin Austin Glacier, Concordia, and the Baltoro Glacier are all in the background.

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