(K2Climb.net) "There is no mountain worth a fingernail - and there are four lads who have lost their lives, Terence Banjo Bannon told BBC. I would have loved to get to the summit, but the summit is nothing compared to four lives." Banjo swore he would never return to K2.
On August 13 Banjo was on his summit bid on K2 - for him and the remaining nine climbers on the mountain, it was a last-minute chance after four days of bad weather.
Almost at the end disaster struck
We were at about 8350m when approximately at 10.30 local time of all of us were engulfed in a huge block of frozen snow 120x80m in size, which had split off the rock, reported survivor Serguey Bogomolov.
Its top left part hit Kulbachenko and Gaponov, who were dragged for two meters before stopping. Jacek Teler from Poland, Banjo Bannon from Ireland, and I were arrested by the fixed rope. Uteshev, Foigt, Kuznetsov, and Kuvakin, who were climbing the diagonal ropes were gone without a sound. The avalanche had triggered 50-70 meters above us.
When the slide passed, I found myself hanging on the fixed rope entirely buried in snow. Banjo was hanging below me; Jacek was above. Having shaken off the snow I rushed up in response to Jacek's signal. Then Gaponov and Kulbachenko descended to us: "The Muzhiks are gone - they were swept away," they gasped.
Why the Siberians?
The survivors called BC and asked for a chopper in vain, since the weather was too bad and the helicopter couldnt have searched at the altitude where the accident took place. They looked for their missing mates without results.
There is no justice in Heaven! cried Serguey. Why is this? The Siberians, the anchormen of Russia. Why they?
Nothing but ten broken Thurayas
While waiting for the porters in BC, the survivors had to spend the following days in calls with authorities and paperwork. Banjo wanted to leave and catch his flight back home, but the Russians retained him in BC. He was the only one with a working sat-phone. We had nothing but ten broken Thurayas, said Bogomolov.
We made a memorial plaque on a wall, next to the plates paying tribute to the three climbers from Odessa perished in 1994, and two of the climbers who died in 2004; Russian S. Sokolov and A. Gubaev from Kyrgyzstan.
Only on August 28 could Serguey take a flight back home. The events of the last 3 weeks have really bogged me down, he said. I feel extremely tired.
The Kuzbass team from Siberia was led by Yury Uteshev on the Abruzzi Spur. Russian Serguey Bogomolov joined them after the Russian team planning a new route on K2s West face postponed their plans until 2007.
The team was in Camp 4 intending to descend. But the weather suddenly improved the next day, and with the top being so close, they made a summit push on August 13 divided in three teams. The avalanche caught the first and the second group, leaving out the last party of Serguey, Irish climber Banjo and Polish climber Jacek.
Two of the Russian climbers dug out from the snow and tried to find their mates, joined by the 3 climbers of the last group. Expedition leader Yuri Uteshev, coach Alexander Foigt, Piotr Kuznetsov and Arcady Kuvakin were all lost.
K2 have had only 4 confirmed summits in 2006. Most climbers reported they were forced to abort their summit pushes in fear of constant avalanches and rock falls, triggered by the warm temperatures.
This accident marks the second largest single-day tragedy on K2.
On Agust 13, 1995, six climbers; New Zealander Bruce Grant, British Alison Hargreaves (f), American Rob Slater, and Spanish Javier Escartín; Javier Olivar; Lorenzo Ortiz disappeared during storm.
In 1986, on August 10, four climbers died on K2 in the same day. British Alan Rouse, Polish Dobroslawa Miodowicz-Wolf (f), and Austrian Alfred Imitzer and Hannes Wieser all died of altitude-sickness/exhaustion. 1986 turned out the worst overall season on K2 after 13 climbers lost their lives on the Mountaineer's mountain.
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