(K2Climb.net) He had planned to go out in style summiting Broad Peak via a new route in alpine style, with two of his closest climbing partners beside him. But as Polish Piotr Pustelnik has learned from his years on the mountains, things do not always go according to plan.
After 16 years of amazing climbs in the Himalayas, Pustelnik, 54, has decided to retire from 8000er peaks. He has climbed 13 of the worlds tallest only one has eluded him: Annapurna. In June of this year, he said that his capacity for high mountains was coming to an end and that he preferred to finish his career with a nice expedition rather than getting his butt kicked and returning in shame with his tail curled up.
Time had come for Piotr to bag Broad Peak
The final 8000+ climb would be his fourth attempt on Broad. Piotr made his first bid there in 1998 with Eric Escoffier. But when Eric disappeared on the summit ridge, Piotr turned back. He returned the next year with Mr. Park (Korea). At Camp 2, one of the Korean climbers fell to his death, and both Park and Pustelnik aborted the summit bid. Last year, Piotr made a third attempt during which he helped rescue legendary Polish Himalaya winter climber Artur Hajzer who fell and broke his leg.
This year on Broad, it was Morawski who volunteered to give up his summit to save an Austrian climber. "Go on up, I'll take him down," he told Pustelnik. Time had come for Piotr to bag Broad Peak. When Morawski a few days later went back up and summited, all three climbing buddies had topped out on Broad - the last stage of their Himalayan trilogy - but gave up the new route in alpine style they had hoped for.
With the three were also two other climbers; Inga and Andrzej. Expedition leader Piotr Pustelnik remained in BC waiting for their descent (Kinga summited), and that's when he wrote up part 2 of his final debrief.
Yesterday evening Kinga returned to Base Camp from C3, thus completing the final stage of our expedition. All three of us here in base camp are feeling well, Kinga hasnt got any frostbite, and everything is fine.
"Its time to sum things up."
"In the mountains; you cant always get what you want"
"Well, Broad Peak is quite an exceptional mountain for me, as Im here for the fourth time. I myself had a serious accident here and have taken part in more than one pretty grim ceremony - its not a lucky mountain for me. Hence my thoughts are revolving around a single reflection: Im glad I dont have to come back here for the fifth time."
"If somebody asked me whether Im pleased with this expedition Id say yes and no at the same time. Yes, because four out of five members of our team have reached the summit. And I think, Im sure that out of all of us, for Kinga its the biggest achievement as its her second 8000er. For us, the three Peters, it was a part of a broader plan, which unfortunately fell through, so I definitely feel somewhat dismayed about it."
"But thats what life is like in the mountains; you cant always get what you want."
Nothing left to bind me to this place
"Frankly speaking, while abseiling down the slopes for the last time yesterday, I was extremely happy that these were my final steps on this mountain. Im not going to come back again as I definitely dont want to return. I have done what I needed to do here in terms of reaching the summit, even though (it was done) in a rather unplanned manner, and theres nothing else left that binds me to this place."
"I think that all three of us (Piotr Morawski, Peter Hamor and myself) feel slightly dissatisfied as we were hoping for the kind of mountaineering experience that we had on Annapurna. But as Ive already said, its not always possible to stick to the plan and achieve the goal you were hoping for. Still, there are umpteen other spectacular mountains. We can always find different climbs to provide us with the enjoyment that weve missed out on here."
Leaving with mixed feelings
"I think, as I said before, that for Kinga (though I dont want to speak on her behalf) its a huge success as she has returned to climbing in the highest mountains after a three-year break, and thanks to her determination and perseverance she achieved her goal. For Andrzej, on the other hand, it was bad luck. He had to give in to an illness which, if he had ignored it, could have proved fatal. I was relieved that common sense prevailed over his ambitions."
"Summing up, we will leave base camp in two days time, with mixed feelings as usual. Still, I reckon that despite being mixed, the feelings are predominantly positive. Anyway, fingers crossed for the other teams that are making their summit push today, were thinking about them and hoping they will succeed as well."
"So, its the end of our Triptych, our plan which was rather extraordinary for me - a superb experience at the end of my career in the highest mountains. From a satellite phone in Broad Peaks base camp,
Piotr Pustelnik - See you soon!"
Piotr has been involved in many rescues; several only on Broad Peak. On K2 in 1996, he saved the life of an Italian climber. Pustelnik administered an adrenaline shot to the injured Italian while both were hanging from a rope. Then Piotr helped him back down with the help of Rysiek Pawlowski. Afterwards, Pustelnik managed to climb back up and reach the summit. When he got home, the Polish Olympics Committee awarded him with the Fair Play Award.
But Piotr has commented: Humanly behavior shouldnt be the subject of awards.
Piotr Pustelniks 8000+m summits: Gasherbrum II - July 19th, 1990; Nanga Parbat - July 12th, 1992; Cho-Oyu - September 24th, 1993; Shisha Pangma - October 6th, 1993; Dhaulagiri - September 26th, 1994; Mount Everest - May 12th, 1995; K2 - August 14th, 1996; Gasherbrum I - July 15th, 1997; Lhotse May 15th, 2000; Kangchenjunga May 15th 2001; Makalu May 16th, 2002; Manaslu May 17th, 2003, Broad Peak July 8th, 2006.
All in all Piotr has climbed 13 main summits and 8000m peaks 16 times. He did Broad Peak fore summit July 21, 2005; Annapurna East summit May 20, 2006; and Gasherbrum II main summit in a second ascent July 21st, 1997.
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