ExplorersWeb Week in Review

Posted: Jul 20, 2008 09:48 pm EDT

On Nanga Parbat, several rescue operations are ongoing following Karl Unterkircher's fatal crevasse fall and Iranian summits.

Last week brought at least one more Broad Peak summit (by Joao Garcia); answers about true results on Gasherbrum 2; and details about Vlado Pulik's fate on Broad peak. Pustelnik helped sort out the "Dos Pedros" G1/G2 climb while in the Arctic, another of Lewis Gordon Pugh's "firsts" were scrutinized.

Nanga Parbat - Karl Unterkircher lost Unterkircher, Nones and Kehrer were opening a new route on Nangas Rakhiot face. Montagna.org. reported that ace climber Karl Unterkircher was breaking trail slightly above 6000m, when a snow ledge collapsed below him and he fell into a crevasse. Walter and Simon reportedly spent the entire night trying to save their buddy, all their efforts in vain. Climbing out of the serac area, the two climbers then proceeded up to 7000 meters, in order to exit the face. Silvio Gnaro Mondinelli has been urgently airlifted from Italy and, together with Mauricio Gallo, is in BC to assist. Chris Warner and an Italian team are also holding to help from the Diamir side.

The Iranian team summited five climbers on the normal route on Nanga Parbat and are currently searching for team mate Saman Nemati. Latest is that light from the climber's headtorch and some tracks have been spotted. Around noon today, a helicopter with Bruce Normand, a doctor and 2 high porters reportedly landed in BC, and Bruce along with one of the porters is now on the Kinshofer wall helping the Iranian team to free ropes.Then rescue team will continue up to the point where Saman was last seen, Minoo reported late Sunday ETC.

Broad PeakDanish Mogens Jensens was hit in the head by rockfall and taken to Islamabad for medical care. A team of careless mountaineers reportedly broke loose rock while climbing on the 10th. The first round hit Iranian climbers, rendering one of them unconscious. The same climbers then again caused rock fall, this time hitting Mogens Jensen. In the latest summit push Joao Garcia has been reported successful and back in BC. The Spaniards were forced back but are getting ready for another attempt which, according to forecast, could take place on July 23-25.

What happened to Vlado Plulík? ExWeb's interview with Dodo Kopold Close to the summit, shortly before dark, Dodo saw his buddy make a bivy on Broad Peak's normal route. The climbers were alone, Vlado had no headlamp, no radio and no satellite phone. Two days later Dodo called home from 6000 meters, reporting that he had made the summit through a variation of the normal route, alone. He suspected that Vlado had not topped out, but was safe with a team further down. Vlado however never showed up. ExplorersWeb checked in with Dodo for details about the accident.

Records set straight on Gasherbrums Last week, Alex Gavan reported that only a fraction of those reporting success July 6th on G2 actually made the true top and ExWeb checked in with the outfitters. Amical forwarded a statement by guide Herbert Rainer, confirming that he reached the summit together with Ralf Arnold (and Jorge Egocheaga with a friend), while the rest turned back below. Kari Kobler, who had reported 9 summits, cc'd ExWeb on his message to Amical reading: "...I write from experience and from information by Henry and Russel that they have issues against us commercials. I will not answer this." According to Alex Gavan, Polish climber Pawel Michalski asked Kobler's guide in BC (three days after "summit") how many of his team had topped out. The guide reportedly answered that he didn't know, as the weather was foggy. At this point, out of around 20 summits originally reported during the period, only 6 are thus confirmed.

Dos Pedros: no G1/G2 traverse "They have done a traverse of G1 (full) and then went down to BC for rest and refueling," Piotr Pustelnik confirmed to ExplorersWeb last week. Pustelnik says that as far as he knows, Hamor/Morawski then climbed the normal route up to camp 4, and onto the summit of G2. "So, it wasn't a traverse itself, rather a double header," Piotr wrote, adding "to me, the high point of the climb was the traverse of G1 (in pure alpine style, alone on the route)."

K2 French west face new route attempt After climbing to about 6,500 meters (altitude reports on the expedition website has varied) on Broad Peak, the French team encountered bad weather on their acclimatization climb on K2's normal route, but reached 6,700 meters of the 7,500 they had hoped for in order to acclimatize.

K2 Cesen/Abruzzi route The Dutch Norit team postponed their summit push, Nick Rices C3 tent was flattened by the wind, porters working for the Korean and the Serbian expeditions tried to fix ropes above Camp 3, but were forced down by strong wind and deep cold. A K2/BP team from Greenland aborted their expedition after nearly being struck by rockfall on K2. Singaporean Rob and Ed made it to camp 1 on Monday, together with Sherpas Kami and Jamling Spaniard Alberto reached C2 and now hopes to climb Broad Peak first along with a larger Spanish group, and then move to K2 for a fast, single-push attempt on his own. Marco Confortola counted that about 25 climbers, 6 Sherpas from Nepal and 4 Pakistani HA porters will be working together on the Abruzzi Spur route.

Gasherbrum I Spanish veteran Carlos Soria hoped to top out on July 18-19. Fernando González Rubio (Colombia) completed an acclimatization round up to C1 and C2.

GII: summit pushes aborted but not over for all Field Touring alpine team aborted their summit push on Mondays night, due to 50 cm of snow, a total whiteout and hard winds. Gasherbrum 2. Francois, Jean Rene and Ashgar headed back up and reached C4 along with Nacho but were forced back in a hairy descent and were latest reported safe back in BC.

Distaghil Sar: Its over On a reconnaissance trip up on July 5th, Bruce and Don estimated conditions were too dangerous on both the north face of Distaghil Sar (E and W peaks) and on the neighboring snow peak of Yazghil Dome. All team members are back in Shimshal.

Batura II: Simone Moro July 13, Simone Moro and Herve Barmasse did their first acclimatization climb, to the summit of Ya Chhish (5130m), but Simone's main goal to reach the unclimbed summit of Batura II (7762 m) was wrecked by a Korean mass-attack on the peak.

Commemorating the lost Mounties and solving the mystery Just why did these experienced outdoorsmen lose the trail and die? This is the mystery that Stefan Wackerhagen and Polly Evans want to solve. In February 2009 they are planning a nearly 1000 miles dog sledding expedition in the Canadian Arctic in the footsteps of a fatal routine police patrol of four Mounties nearly a hundred years ago. In temperatures that dropped to minus 54°C, they ran out of food, then ate their dogs one by one. The first three men starved to death. The fourth shot himself.

Will Steger from Ellesmere to Greenland Will Steger, Sarah, Eric and Toby did a Greenland Icecap crossing with kites and sails one month after their Ellesmere expedition.

Greenland: Ronny Finsaas and team equals Niklas and team One of the aims of Ronny, Tom and Helge was to beat the 21-day record of Niklas Norman and his team on the Narsaq-Qaanaaq Greenland route. After frustrating windless days and crevasses, melt water and moraine on the last day, Ronny, Tom and Helge reached Qaanaaq in 21 days.

Lewis Gordon Pugh first kayak attempt for the North Pole? Last year, ExpeditionNews reported how Lewis Gordon Pugh was erroneously credited by media as the first man to swim at the North Pole. "Last year I undertook the first swim at the North Pole," Pugh writes again in his latest press release - this time anouncing a kayak expedition to the North Pole. "It has never been attempted before," Pugh writes. Fridtjof Nansen and his partner used kayaks on the Arctic Ocean already back in 1895; and in 2006 Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen made their second attempt to cross the Arctic Ocean via the North Pole which they reached on July 1. The team carried their loads on canoe-sleds, which they used to paddle across frequent open water leads. The crossing was finally aborted due to brash ice. Last year, Pugh traveled to the North Pole on a Russian icebreaker with a 29-person back-up team including a mind coach. It's unclear if Pugh will use an icebreaker also on his upcoming journey, which he insists will aid the global warming issue.

Piracy attack in Red Seas Gulf of Aden The oil central Gulf of Aden is hub for illegal immigrants and terrorist attacks; and an area known piracy. Over two dozen actual and attempted pirate attacks took place in Gulf of Aden last year according to the International Maritime Bureau. Late June this year, pirates took a German family of four hostage after their yacht ran out of fuel of the coast of northern Somalia, SailorsforSailors.com reported. The German family was cruising from Egypt to Thailand with their son and a professional crew skipper from France. The pirates demand a ransom of 1 million US dollar. This is the first cruising yacht in the area, of which its crew have been held hostage, reports the news source.

Read these stories - and more! - at ExplorersWeb.com


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Scouting a new route on Nangas Rakhiot face, Karl (38) perished in a crevasse fall. Image of Unterkircher in K2's BC in 2004, courtesy of Unterkircher's website (click to enlarge).