Karakoram summits – Broad Peak, Gasherbrum and almost K2

Lydia Brady, making the quick traverse from accompanying Roxanne Vogel to the top of Everest in two weeks, has now topped out on Broad Peak with well known climber and keeper of the Himalayan database Billi Bierling.

Billi, who now has 6 of the 14 – 8,000 meter peaks to her credit, and a number of the team summitted without oxygen. From her interview the team had a very long but rewarding summit day. And thankfully, great photos and no lines to be seen. With any luck we may see the team in Skardu on their way back from the mountain.

Their team of 15 or more also included ascents this season by Benjamin Chan, a 19 year old climber from Hong Kong, along with Guide Ahmed Baig, who is all of 20.

Over on Gasherbrum, multiple teams have been up both G1 and G2, with those using oxygen climbing quickly through to the top. For those opting for no oxygen ascents, they often take an extra rotation up to the high camps to build an extra red blood cell or two before their summit push.

K2 has experienced a relatively long good spell of weather this season, with camps all in place on both the now popular Cesen route, as well as the Abruzzi.

K2. Photo: Josephine Clark

Madison Mountaineering is starting for the summit, with plans to summit on Friday 19 July. Their climbing team includes Dr. Rick Thumer, who ascended Tyree, the second tallest peak in Antarctica previously, and is working his way through the second tallest peaks of the 7 summits, a much more challenging goal than the ever popular 1st 7 summits.

antarctica, tyree, victor saunders
Dr. Rick Thumer and Victor Saunders at Vinson Base Camp plotting strategy for their successful ascent of Mount Tyree, 2nd tallest peak in Antarctica.

Teams have split out on K2 this year, with both private groups like Adrian Ballinger and Topo Mena, as well as Madison Mountaineering and Furtenbach Adventures opting for the slopes of the Cesan.

Perhaps the amazing ski video of Andrzej Bargiel’s ski descent has made people think the route more reasonable? There is also a ski team looking to repeat that descent from K2 as well just to keep things interesting – hopefully with footage to show us the way.

With the steep climbing on K2 and the dangerous, avalanche prone camps, having two routes will allow for less congestion, at least lower on the mountain.

Josephine Clark on the Gondogoro La, common rapid and scenic descent route from K2 and Broad Peak Base Camps. K2 left and Broad Peak in background.

Once climbers reach the shoulder and 8,000 meters, the routes converge. With perhaps a 100 or more climbers attempting the summit over the next few days, just as we saw on Everest this year, climbers could again be waiting in line. If anything, with the challenging terrain, threat of serac fall, high altitude and fickle weather, this could prove even more dangerous than on Everest.

The key factor is often the climbers themselves, and the pool of K2 climbers should be more experienced than those attracted to Everest over the past years. And hopefully that means if things go wrong they may have a better idea and more options for what to do. Maybe.