Hiro was able to communicate with his home team via sat phone from C1 yesterday. He briefly described what had happened and, about his state, he just managed to say: I am knackered from head to toes. Image of Hiro on Shisha two years back courtesy of Amical (click to enlarge).
GII's normal route and the area swept by an avalanche. Graph compiled by ExplorersWeb over image by Amical (click to enlarge).
GII avalanche update and graph: Jamie McGuinness, "climbers are doing everything they can for Hiro"

Posted: Jul 19, 2007 05:00 pm EDT
(K2Climb.net) Climbers have jumped at once to help Hiro, Jamie McGuinness, currently in GIIs BC, told ExplorersWeb. About 15 people hurried up and volunteered to carry the Japanese climber from C2 to C1 yesterday and there were more people waiting in C1.

Amical team had medical O2 on their higher camps, and a Doctor stood by Hiro all the time since he was unburied. Until Hiro is evacuated to hospital, people are doing everything they can for him.

Avalanche triggered by other climbers?

It seems the avalanche which swept Amicals climbers could have been accidentally triggered by someone working on the route above perhaps fixing ropes, Jamie added.

According to a press release by Amical today, Pakistan Army confirmed earlier this morning they had no available choppers capable of reaching C1s altitude. Therefore, Hiro was carried down to BC, in order to be airlifted to Hospital in Skardu as soon as possible. The extent of his internal injuries is still unknown.

Hiro was able to communicate with his home team via sat phone from C1 yesterday. He briefly described what had happened and, about his state, just managed to say: I am knackered from head to toes.

One climber lost, other still missing

Team leader Dirk Groeger, also caught in the slide, managed to release himself and sustains lesser injuries. A third team member, clipped into the same rope as Dirk, perished soon after being rescued.

A fourth climber has not yet been found, and it is feared that he fell off the rocky cliffs down to the glacier. Members of an American team were searching this morning for some trace of the missing climber among the avalanche cones at the base of the mountain. Hirotaka was rescued immediately after the accident, as he stopped at a flatter area near C2, about 300m below the place he was caught.

This is the eighth GII expedition launched by German outfitter Amical, and definitely the most dramatic. It has been a tough season for the outfitter who also lost a team member to AMS in BC a few weeks back.

A safer 8,000er

According to ExplorersWeb's summit/death ratios, GII is among the safest of all 8,000ers. The normal route is considered straightforward and not particularly exposed to avalanches. By 2003, only 17 people had died on GIIs slopes while 650 climbers had reached its summit. The summit/fatality rate was thus 2.62%, about one-third of Everests summit/fatality rate.

This year climbers reported trouble with large crevasses and seracs on the lower slopes and the glacier at the base of the mountain.

Other teams currently on GII

As for other teams, Romanians Alex Gavan and Andrei, as well as the Catalan (Spanish) team, have remained in BC all week long. Tuesday they both reported the avalanche risk was too high to proceed up. Kari Koblers, Project-Himalayas, FTAs and Mountain Madness teams confirmed none of their members were injured.

Members of Amical's expedition were hit by an avalanche on GII yesterday. The accident took place above C2 at around 6,700m, when an avalanche struck four climbers. Team leader Dirk Groeger managed to reach the surface by his own power. Members from other expeditions inmediately set off from C2 and hurried up to help Amical's climbers, rescuing two. Hirotaka survived; while the second climber died of his injuries. A fourth climber has not yet been recovered.

Born in Tokyo in 1971, Hirotaka Takeuchi summited Everest and K2 back to back in 1996 at the age of 25. At the time, he became the youngest person to have summited the two tallest peaks on Earth. He next went on to summit Makalu, Nanga Parbat, Annapurna, GI, Shisha Pangma (first traverse), Kangchenjunga, and latest Manaslu.

Earlier this year, Hiro summited Manaslu together with regular climbing mate (and Amical's owner) Ralf Dujmovits. Being his ninth 8,000er, Hiro Takeuchi stepped up to the top of the Japanese rankings of 8,000ers (living) summiteers, sharing the post with Osamu Tanabe. This summer Hiro hoped to summit GII and Broad Peak.

At 8,034m, GII is the lowest 8000er in the Karakoram Range and number 13 in altitude on the overall list of the fourteen 8,000m peaks in the world. Statistically, GII is among the safest of all 8,000ers. The normal route is considered straightforward and not particularly exposed to avalanche.

GII is located in Pakistan on the upper reaches of the Baltoro glacier, the main access route to the mountains which cuts through the center of the Karakoram Range.


Links to teams currently climbing on Gasherbrum II:

FTA's Gasherbrum dispatches | Project-Himalaya's Gasherbrum II dispatches | Alex Gavan's GI & GII expedition website | Hiro Takeuchi's blog (Japanese) | Slovak GI/GII expedition website (Slovak) | Valles al GII (Catalan) | Amical (German) | Kari Kobler (German) | Mountain Madness

#Mountaineering #Mountaineering