above - First view of Broad Peak from Concordia
more photos at http://www.nathandahlberg.com/broadpeak2015/
Broad peak 2015 report
Firstly a big thank you to family, friends and sponsors for the support and interest in Broad Peak 2015 . Finally after a longer than expected trip I have arrived back in New Zealand – thanks also to those who sent msgs of encouragement and support.
For a start just going to Broad peak /K2 base camp is an expedition in itself , not to mention the road to Askoli. At Concordia 5 days of trekking from Askoli in the confluence of the greatest ice mass outside the polar regions one sees Broad peak for the first time and is immediately struck by the enormous mass suspended in the sky. Several hours later arriving in base camp the biggest impression is just how steeply it rises above you.
Through out the Karakorums it was not the year to go climbing – very heavy winter snow falls had been softened by a strong warm monsoon which meant that the mountains were in perilous state. The day we arrived at base camp 7 climbers had been overwhelmed by an avalanche at the base of the mountain. Good fortune alone saved 6 of them but a famous local guide was lost.
Next to our camp was a Spanish team including Juanito Oairzabal , the Basque mountaineer who is the most successful high altitude mountaineer in history – 25 - 8000m summits and is close to climbing all 8000 meter peaks twice. With probably as strong a team as could be assembled anywhere they failed to reach the summit 2 days after we arrived due to deep soft unstable snow and right from than we knew our chance were limited – actually more than limited as conditions and weather steadily worsened after our arrival. In the following days team after team had cracks at the summit of Broad Peak including several that had given up on K2 which was way too dangerous and difficult to climb this year – they all failed !!
However there were 2 phenomenal solo success’s, ArgentinianMariano Galvan and Polish skier Andrzej Bargiel both made solo summits. It is difficult to imagine climbing Broad Peak solo in the best of conditions and these two put in unreal efforts. My Bulgarian team mate Dimitar said of Andy –“ Andy is proper monster in a human costume - any comparison with him in the mountains can be deadly”
For us we had a large learning curve. Above all we had arrived rather late and short on time especially on a season like this. We were low in resources as well as all other teams used high altitude porters and we were load carrying ourselves – by no means impossible to do as fixed ropes had been set up but certainly required good conditions and perfect planning on our part to achieve.
Unfortunately we were pressed for time which meant ending up heavily overloaded and than you are caught on sunny slopes early in the climb as we were travelling to slow. Here we severely underestimated a phenomena of the Himalayas – Glacial lassitude which pins you to the slopes in scorching sun and the effect that sun has on the snow – if one could call it snow even. Both conditions I have read about but they were the things someone has to actually experience to know about!! The climbing itself was much more on rock and more continuously steep than we had expected as well- here once again been pressed for time and not doing a proper reconnaissance let us down.
The consequences of all of the above were that I had a fall and here I was lucky – after sliding on very steep ice I tumbled backwards down a more moderate rock face and after 30 meters came to a halt with a few small injuries. The worst part was I lost my pack which in the short term would seriously hinder any more climbing as I lost sleeping bag, tents etc and in the long term cause me more problems as I had lost my passport!! Thanks here to Dr Richard Price – an old New Zealand climbing legend who was working for the Himex team at K2 base camp who put in a few stitches and Dimitar who helped me get there. The head wound I got was more gory and superficial than anything else and 2 days later Dimitar and myself headed back up to do a SAR for my pack but it had completely vanished.
By now most teams were packing up and leaving none seemed too keen on prolonging the misery and risk of trying to climb. Dimitar wouldn’t even look at Broad Peak, a mountain full of anger - no fun at all – just desperate fear. “I am happy to be alive” he would say.
Zdeno ‘s immense resolve to continue at any cost now became apparent . The dangers were increasing daily but despite been given a good out when a massive rock crushed his bike he repaired it and somehow convinced Diimtar to go back up. It seemed dangerous madness to those left looking on but Zdeno was a man possessed - a mad passion that would lead in most cases to success but on an 8000m peak more likely an early demise.
They got holed up at camp 2 , 6200m for 5 days with monsoon snow falling most of the time and conditions continuously worsening , snow getting deeper and more,treacherous thus more avalanche prone. Finally dehydrated and weary they descended but not without drama. As Dimitar was pulling the fixed rope out of deep snow suddenly it no longer existed – obviously been cut by an avalanche and he found himself in empty space. In moments he hurtled down 300 meters of snow and ice but miraculously came to a halt on a shallower grade basically unharmed. Once again we had been lucky!
Although Dimitar and myself were both of the opinion that we had got off lightly and were already at the limit luck wise Zdeno was still wondering if we couldn’t have pushed harder!!
Certainly it was a great experience and look I forward one day to having another shot at it all but for the moment its more about getting financial again. Immediate plans are fairly limited , hopefully the Bike touring /hike/climb mix locally in New Zealand whenever I get the chance.
I have put up a bunch of so far un-captioned photos on http://www.nathandahlberg.com/broadpeak2