We moved to K2 basecamp on Monday 8 July 2019. Everything has been moved, that is, kitchen tent, team tent, personal tents, material, food etc.
Sorry I can only update now – on the weekend, the internet was not working properly, and yesterday Monday I had managed to get a bad case of sunstroke, so I was mainly resting in the tent with a very annoying headache…you would think that the boy has learned by now to protect himself from the sun but alas, only one hour in the T-Shirt with the neck exposed was enough to get myself this sunstroke. So obviously it is not enough to protect the head, also the neck should be protected, boys and girls ;). But everything is fine again.
Potential routes / climbing strategies on K2
Having arrived at K2 Basecamp, we will soon have to decide which strategy and route to follow.
The potential routes for us are the Cesen route (E) and the Abruzzi route (F). These are the „easiest“ routes up K2. From those two, the Abruzzi route is the most common one. The other routes are very hard to access and climb and / or too dangerous. The so called Magic Line (C) for example has only been climbed twice since 1954 (first ascent of K2 ever). It involves sixth grade climbing at 8000m, is very long and sustained. To the right is the so called Polish Line (D), a route which has only been climbed once at all by the two famous Polish mountaineers Kukuzka and Piotrowski (who was killed on the descent). It is a very dangerous route as it is constantly in the danger zone of seracs. Reinhold Messner called the line even suicidal.
Both Abruzzi and Cesen route have its merits and problems, but my information on the Cesen route is rather scarce.
The Abruzzi route offers an overall easy route with few technical sections. The first more technical part is the House Chimney between Camp 1 and Camp 2. It is a short but steep chimney (approx. 7-8m) at around 6700m which would require a grade IV climb if freeclimbed. Between Camp 2 and Camp 3 follows the so called Black Pyramid, which offers ongoing mixed climbing, that is, a mixture between ice and rock. After Camp 3 at 7400m, there follows a long snow field to Camp 4 at 7900m. At Camp 4, the Cesen route and Abruzzi route converge.
From Camp 4 on, you move up towards to the infamous Bottleneck, a passage under huge seracs, unfortunately presenting an objective danger which cannot be bypassed. So the key is to be as fast as possible, insofar that is possible at 8300m…
Once you have passed the bottleneck, about 200-300m of snow field walking towards the summit follow, supposedly at a moderate angle.
The Cesen route itself is steeper but shorter. You can access it quite directly from the Basecamp, which is nice, whereas for the Abruzzi route you have to take quite a long walk towards the North around the mountain, passing about two hours through a cumbersome and annoying glacier. So in terms of speed the Cesen route is preferable. However, it seems to be prone to rockfall. This year, though, with the bigger amounts of snow, it seems to be quite safe. We will see ;).
And then, once we have passed the bottleneck and the summit snow fields, hopefully we arrive at the summit which offers a nice platform for a paragliding takeoff – we hope!
Which route are we going to climb? For the moment, we will hopefully climb the Cesen route. It is much more direct, which I prefer. Also it offers overall more possibilities to pass slower people, there are less possibilities for jams, as I understand.
At the moment the weather looks great, it is warm and the wind is weak. The main questions is now when the fixed ropes will be installed from the Camp 4 to the summit. Once this is clear, we can start! Maybe already on Wednesday or Thursday…let us hope that the weather stays stable!