Home > Expeditions & Adventures > K2 & Karakoram 2009 Season´s end Chronicle

K2 & Karakoram 2009 Season´s end Chronicle

September 18, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

“It is special when the locals reach the highest point of their home country, a moment to inspire all people of the nation.”

“This happened to the Chinese (Everest, 25.05.1960); to the Nepalis (Everest, 29.06.1965); to the Indians (Kangchenjunga, 31.07.1977); and to the Pakistanis (K2, 09.08.1977).”

“Galvanized by the proverb ‘there is a path to the top of even the highest mountain’, Afghanistan’s finest hour arrived on 19.07.2009, when Malang (35) and Amrudin (25) stood at the summit of Noshaq.”

Following his huge Everest & Himalaya spring season’s end Chronicle published last week, ExWeb’s contributor Brazilian Rodrigo Granzotto Peron is now wrapping up the past Pakistan season in yet another vast and unique report. Enjoy!

K2 & Karakoram 2009 Season’s end Chronicle
by Rodrigo Granzotto Peron

1 – OVERVIEW OF THE SEASON

Save for the years affected by El Niño and La Niña (such as 2002, 2005 and 2009), every Summer since 2001 Karakoram has totaled at least 100 successful ascents on its five 8000ers.

This list shows record ascents (in one season) on each Pakistan 8000er over the present decade:

K2 – 51 summits (2004)
NP – 37 summits (2005)
G1 – 27 summits (2007)
BP – 75 summits (2007)
G2 – 135 summits (2006)

Summit numbers tanked this year

In comparison, this year we had very few summits in Pakistan.

Gasherbrum II for example, the 8000er with most summits (or the “Everest” of Karakoram) had only 2 confirmed ascents. After the huge crowds of 2006, numbers are dropping on G2: only 7 summits in 2007; 36 in 2008; and now 2 in 2009.

Only one summit was announced on K2. Jorge Egocheaga Rodriguez (SPA) in a fast solo charge from C3 to the top. Later however he told ExWeb: “I stopped 12 meters from K2´s highest point.” A late joint venture including several great climbers (Maxut Zhumayev, Serguey Bogomolov, Vassili Pivtsov, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Gerfried Goschl, among others) was blocked at 8300m in chest-deep snow.

With that, K2 registered another season without summit (the last seasons with no summit on Chogori were: 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2009). Of the past 12 seasons on K2 nobody summited in half of them. In other words, when expeditions arrive at BC, there is only 50% of chance that the season will be successful. This is the lowest rate of all 8000ers, proving why Chogori is really difficult.

In all, the Summer Season ended with no summits on K2, no summits on BP, and very few confirmed summits on G1, G2 and NP. The results were similar on lower peaks and spires. Few expeditions and very few summits.

2 – FIRST 8000ER FOR A FAST LEGEND

Ueli Steck is a legend with an impressive curriculum: new routes on Ama Dablam, Cholatse, Taboche and Gasherbrum II East; speed record on Eiger´s N Face (2h47m33s) and so forth.

But the 8000ers resisted him (such as Annapurna´s S Face three times 2002, 2007 and 2008) until this year. Ueli finally grabbed his first on July 9, on Gasherbrum II, with the 8000+ summit that opened the season. Climbing the regular route, this was just a warm-up for his real objective: a new line on Makalu this fall.

Ueli’s G2 ascent was fast, 12 hours C1-Summit, but not enough to touch Anatoli Boukreev´s 9h30m (ABC-Summit, 1997) and Denis Urubko´s 7h30m (BC-Summit, 2001).

3 – A NEW ROUTE ON NANGA PARBAT

Although most explored on the mountain; the Diamir Flank on Nanga Parbat had merely two previous lines: the Kinshofer Route (with several variations) set in 1962; and Messner Direct Route, set in 1978.

More than 30 years later, this season another line was drawn on the slopes of Nanga Parbat, to the left of the Kinshofer Route.

Explained Gerfried Goschl, leader of the expedition: “[the route takes] a hidden couloir between the Czech route on the right side and the (unsuccessfully attempted) Diamir glacier route on the left side. It was a secret way to join the untouched North West buttress. The rest was just logical: Follow the ridge and overcome the two giant pinnacles that cross to the right above big seracs to reach a second ridge leading to the Basin at 7400 meters. More than 2000m of complete new ground”.

The summit was reached on 11th July, by Austrians Gerfried Goschl, Sepp Bachmair, Hans Goger, and Canadian Louis Rousseau.

4 – VEIKKA´S 14

Veikka Gustafsson, the most well-known Nordic climber of all times, completed his quest to summit all 14x8000ers this season. On July 26th, the climber stood at the very top of Gasherbrum I, becoming the 17th climber in the world to summit all 8000ers, and the 9th to do so without bottled oxygen.

Regular partner of Ed Viesturs, in later years Veikka teamed up with Hirotaka Takeuchi and Kazuya Hiraide. Except for Cho Oyu, the Finn has done the first absolute ascent of all 8000ers for his country. On his record, 17 main 8000ers (repetitions on DH and 2x EV), and conquests on several continents, including first ascents on some Antartic peaks in the 90´s.

5 – SEVERAL SHERPAS COLLECTING 8000ERS

Usually sherpas are porters and support staff; only co-actors to the mountaineers that hired them. Yet sherpas are great climbers and one of the most important reasons for the popularity of high altitude climbing in Asia.

The first Nepali sherpas to summit an 8000er were Nawang Dorje and Nima Dorje, who in 1960 participated in the first ascent of Dhaulagiri.

Lhakpa Tenzing was the first to summit two different 8000ers (DH 70 and EV 73). Decades later, in 2000 Nima Dorje summited his 7th different 8000er, setting a new record at that time. Mingma Sherpa followed, summiting his 9th in 2004.

Lately, other sherpas are collecting 8000ers fast, in a race for the first to get all 14.

Serap Jangbu Sherpa is the most known, with 11 already summited (missing NP, G1 and BP), and the first local to grab all 8000ers in Nepal. He also summited K2 twice, SH via the SW Face, and traversed EV with Park Young-Seok in 2006.

This year Serap tried Gasherbrum I with Altitude Junkies but was unlucky and remains at 11x8000ers. And he is not alone in the race anymore.

Tshering Dorje, owner of Rolwaling Excursion, has reached 6x8000ers and plans to summit all 14 in the next few years.

Two of Oh Eun-Sun´s sherpas each summited 4 different 8000ers with her this year (KG, DH, NP and GI) putting them on a fast track on the quest as well. Pemba Tshering Sherpa now has 7 main different 8000ers. Dawa Wangchuk Sherpa has 8; this sherpa legend is also a record-holder on KG with 4 summits, and on GI with 3 summits.

6 – COLLECTORS WITH AT LEAST ONE SUMMIT THIS SEASON

14 Veikka Gustafsson
13 João Garcia
13 Oh Eun-Sun
11 Go Mi-Sun
10 Kim Jae-Soo
08 Dawa Wangchuk Sherpa
07 Pemba Tshering Sherpa
06 Gerfried Goschl

7 – OBITUARY ON 8000ERS

23.06 Michele Fait (ITA, 44) [K2, fall]
10.07 Wolfgang Koblinger (AUT, 55) [NP, disappearance]
11.07 Go Mi-Sun (S-K, 41) [NP, fall]
19.07 Cristina Castagna (ITA, 32) [BP, fall]
21.07 Luis María Barbero (SPA, 47) [G2, disappearance]

8 – FIRSTS & RECORD-BREAKERS

I – NANGA PARBAT

First Balti climber to summit 2x – Mohammad Ali
First Canadian – Louis Rousseau
First Portuguese – João Garcia
First South Korean lady – Oh Eun-Sun

II – GASHERBRUM I (HIDDEN PEAK)

First Bulgarian – Nikolay Petkov, Nikolay Valkov, Doychin Boyanov, Boyan Petrov
First Finnish – Veikka Gustafsson
First Nepali to summit 3x – Dawa Wangchuk Sherpa
Oldest to summit – Carlos Soria (SPA), at 70

9 – AFHGANISTAN´S FINEST HOUR

It is special when the locals reach the highest point of their home country, a moment to inspire all people of the nation. This happened to the Chinese (Everest, 25.05.1960); to the Nepalis (Everest, 29.06.1965); to the Indians (Kangchenjunga, 31.07.1977); and to the Pakistanis (K2, 09.08.1977).

Galvanized by the proverb “there is a path to the top of even the highest mountain”, the finest hour of Afghanistan arrived on 19.07.2009, when Malang (35) and Amrudin (25) stood at the summit of Noshaq (7492m).

10 – BROAD PEAK 23 x 0 CLIMBERS

More or less 30 climbers – from Poland, Pakistan, USA, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain – tried to reach the summit of Broad Peak in the huge summit wave of July 18th/19th.

Almost all made it to the Rocky Fore Summit (8.035m). The ridge to the Main Summit (8.047m), however, proved to be a tough job: loads of snow, high winds blowing from the real top and very low temperatures. Some ventured out on the ridge, but turned back 50m from the summit.

In total, 23 climbers (some very experienced, like Ryszard Pawlowski, Giampaolo Casarotto and Qudrat Ali) were left empty handed by the grumpy Broad Peak.

With these “secondary summits”, the Rocky Fore Summit has passed the 250-ascents mark; while according to BroadPeak.Org, the main summit has 385.

11 – THE USAIN BOLT OF THE MOUNTAINS

Codenamed “squirrel” and “iron woman”, Oh Eun-Sun achieved her very first 8000er (G2) 12 years ago in a summer season like this one, in company of Um Hong-Gil and Park Young-Seok.

Following setbacks on MK, BP and K2, her second 8000er came not until 2004 (EV). That’s when everything changed for Miss Oh.

A charge of historical proportions over the highest mountains in the world followed; with SH in 2006, CH & K2 in 2007, MK, LH, BP and MN in 2008 and KG, DH, NP and GI in 2009.

Here are just some of the various records she broke in recent years:

a) First S Korean female ascent: K2, KG, LH, MK, DH, MN, NP, G2 and SH;
b) First climber to summit 4 different main 8000ers in two consecutive years (2008 and 2009);
c) First woman ever to conquer TOP 3 (EV + K2 + KG) and TOP 5 (EV + K2 + KG + LH + MK);
d) First woman to summit 13x8000ers;
e) Summited unprecedented 10x8000ers in about 2 years (from 08.05.2007 to 03.08.2009): CH, K2, MK, LH, BP, MN, KG, DH, NP and G1. She is the female version of Usain Bolt (Ed note: Jamaican sprinter now considered the greatest sportsman on the planet) speeding up 8000er after 8000er;
f) And, as a bonus, with the GI summit, S Korea has become the second country were lady climbers have summited all 14x8000ers, just behind Poland.

Only Annapurna is left for Miss Oh to complete the 14x8000ers. With Edurne, Nives and Gerlinde so far ahead only some years ago, what then seemed impossible is now totally achievable for this South Korean woman. However, Annapurna is tricky. Let’s see what happens this fall.

Staying on the subject a while longer, let’s check where the S Korean climbers are in the quest for all 8000ers:

14 Park Young-Seok
14 Um Hong-Gil
14 Han Wang-Yong
13 Oh Eun-Sun
11 Go Mi-Sun (deceased)
10 Kim Jae-Soo
10 Oh Hee-Joon (deceased)
09 Kim Chang-Ho
07 Ra Kwan-Ju
07 Park Jung-Hun
06 Park Mu-Taek (deceased)
06 Kim Mi-Gon
05 Heo Young-Ho
05 Kang Seong-Gyu
05 Kim Woong-Sik
05 Lee Hyun-Jo (deceased)
05 Kim Hong-Bin

12 – TRIUMPH OF LONGEVITY

In the first ascent of Cho Oyu in 1954, Herbert Tichy became the first 40+ years old climber to summit an 8000er.

On Everest in 1979, Gerhard Schmatz broke the 50 years old mark. Two years later we jumped another decade in man’s triumph against aging with Andreas Loferer’s summit of Manaslu at 60 years old in 1981.

21 years after that, Toshiko Uchida became the first 70+ summiteer, on Cho Oyu in 2002. Present record-holder is Min Bahadur Sherchan, a Nepali who summited Everest last year, close to his 77th birthday and barely 50 years after Herbert Tichy’s 40-years old kick off on Cho Oyu.

In terms of longevity, Spaniard Carlos Soria is the most notorious with 6x8000ers bagged since his 60th birthday. The oldest person to summit K2, MK, GI and BP, Carlos recently celebrated 70 by the summit of Gasherbrum I, reached on August 3.

The current record-holder on GI (after Jean Troillet, 59), Carlos Soria has now announced plans to summit all 14x8000ers (he needs KG, LH, DH, MN, AN and SH).

13 – FIRST ASCENTS ON LOWER PEAKS

KARIM SAR (6.180m)

A spire in Shilinbar Valley, Karim Sar had resisted three previous expeditions (two in 2007 and one in 2008) before it finally was seduced by New Zealand lady climber Patricia (Pat) Deavoll, who did a direct line on the South Flank.

Unable to find sponsors and partners for her original target Kampire Dior, Pat instead made the first absolute ascent of Karim Sar. Teaming up with Paul Hersey (N-Z), Pat scaled the last 1000 meters completely solo.

Always eying difficult 6000ers and 7000ers, Pat is a good example of diversity in true mountaineering and a regular in Karakoram and China, where she achieved the first absolute ascent of both Xiashe (6000m) in 2005; and Haizi Shan (6000m) in 2006.

She also made the first ascent of Miandi (6400m) with Bruce Normand in 2007, tried Cholatse in 2004, and Beka Brakai Chhok (6940m) in 2006 and 2007.

14 – COLD WINDS ON LATOK

Rarely conquered, Latok is always a great challenge to climbers. Its North Face is a mammoth untamed giant, with dozens of failed attempts.

North American Colin Haley, Josh Wharton and Dylan Johnson challenged the North Ridge this year, an attempt that ended at 5830 meters on a very difficult section of the route.

Latok was crueler even to Álvaro Novellón and Óscar Pérez of the Peña Guara expedition. Very high up on the mountain the two were forced back, but things turned truly grim when Óscar fell and broke his leg on descent.

Unable to help his mate on his own, Álvaro hurried down to call for help. A giant and selfless rescue attempt was organized by a number of related and unrelated climbers but bad weather thwarted all efforts and Óscar remains forever on his special mountain (he summited Latok III in 2006, via the E Face).

15 – AN ATTEMPT ON A NEGLECTED NEIGHBOR

It is difficult to be a shy neighbor of several famous mountains. Such is the case with Gasherbrum VI, in the vicinity of Gasherbrum I (with almost 300 summits registered), Gasherbrum II (almost 860 summits) and Gasherbrum IV (with 17 summits, counting the ascents of GIV N Summit).

The less known brothers of this family have been neglected by climbers over the years. Gasherbrum III (7.952m) has only two confirmed ascents (1975 and 2004); Gasherbrum V (7.147m) and Gasherbrum VI (7.003m) are still virgin.

Portuguese duo Daniela Teixeira and Paulo Roxo challenged the French Ridge of Gasherbrum II last year, a route only completed once, in 1975, by Marc Batard and Yannick Seigneur. The attempt included a lower variant to the right, but was thwarted by bad weather.

This year, Daniela Teixeira and Paulo Roxo scheduled an attempt on Gasherbrum VI, via the SE Face. The Gasherdreams project ended in two summit bids very high up on the mountain, but not enough for the coveted first ascent.

Daniela and Paulo confirmed the same problems that cursed almost all teams this season: cold, wind and snow above the usual.

16 – ABSOLUTE NUMBERS

Number of ascents on the 8000ers during the season:

K2 00
Nanga Parbat 19
Gasherbrum I 16
Broad Peak 00
Gasherbrum II 02

Broad Peak Fore Summit 23
Gasherbrum II Fore Summit 06

TOTAL on MAIN 8000ers: 37

*This Chronicle is based on preliminary data and under analysis. Some will be revisited in the following months, with possibly a few corrections to be done by then.

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