From Fredrik Ericsson’s website, www.fredrikericsson.com
2009-06-18 – Skiing on K2
K2, What a mountain. It is 8612 meters high, but when I stand here in base camp, at 5100 meters, and look at it, it doesn’t fell like it is more than 1000 meters to the summit. It is a weird feeling when I know it is more than 3500 meters to the top.
Fredrik at 6300 meters
A few days ago when Michele and I was on our first acclimatization trip we got to experience how big the mountain really is. We left base camp at seven in the morning and walked along the Godwin Austen Glacier for 30 minutes up to the foot of K2 and the start of the Cesen Route. With ski boots and crampons on our feet, poles in our hands and a heavy backpack filled with a tent, sleeping bag, primus stove, gas, food etc. and a pair of skis strapped onto it, we started the climbing. At the beginning it was a nice ski slope of 30 degrees with perfect hard packed snow. Nice to climb on. We climbed on the right hand side of a big snow slope close to a rock ridge to stay out of the danger zone of a large Serac hanging above the left side of the slope. The ski slope got steeper, between 40-50 degrees and the snow got deeper. I had a hard time to stop dreaming about the upcoming ski descent on this perfect slope in soft powder snow. But first we had to find a tent spot where we could spend the night. I would have liked to ski down straight away but for our acclimatization it is best to spend time on higher altitude. To find a spot for the tent proved to be very difficult. We started the search at 5700 meters but it wasn’t until we reached 6000 meters, after a total of seven hours of climbing, that we found a spot that we could imaging being flat. After some digging and building we had a semi-bad tent spot with two of the corners hanging in the air. Guess who got to sleep on that side of the tent? Not surprisingly, I slept pretty good anyway.
The next morning both Michele and I woke up with a headache and it was blowing and snowing outside. Great! After breakfast and a bit of fresh air my headache was gone but Michele must have caught some altitude illness since he didn’t get well until we were back in base camp. After chilling in our tent for a few hours it stopped snowing and cleared up so we put our skis on and started sliding down the mountain. We took it easy in the beginning since I am always a bit unsecure on a new mountain especially when it is steep and rocks around. The snow was better than we had expected, cold and just a little windpacked and it was sloughing a bit. When the slope opened up I could do bigger turns and carry more speed, just cruising down the mountain. I had a big smile on my face, cause even if only a third of the mountain, we were skiing on K2. I got 900 vertical meters of nice skiing before I, totally euphoric, took my skis off 30 meters from my tent in BC. I had just skied the coolest ski slope in the world.Fredrik enjoying the skiing on K2
We will now have a few days of rest in base camp, charging batteries, before the next ski adventure on K2.
Book that I’m reading: Richard Branson – Business Stripped bare – Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur
Music on my MP3 player: No power
2009-06-14 – K2 Base Camp
K2 Ski Expedition 2009 – Update 2
Altitude – 5135 meters
After seven days of trekking up the Baltoro Valley we have finally reached the base camp of K2 which will be our home for the next six weeks. This is where the climbing on K2 starts.
From Skardu we drove Landrovers on very small and bumpy roads to a village called Askole. The drive was six hours long and one of the scariest I have ever had. At one point we had to go through a small waterfall. The road was only as wide as the car. On one side was a rock wall and on the other was a hundred meters drop down to the river. The road was muddy from all the water and on our first try we got stuck in the mud and had to back up. The second try we had to touch the rock wall not to slide off the road. Fortunately we had a good driver and made it through. I was happy to arrive in Askole in one peace. That car ride was probably be more scary than anything we will face on K2.
To get all our equipment and food for six weeks up to K2 we had to hire porters. The farmers from Askole were happy to help us out. So happy that they almost started fighting about the loads. It was a bit chaotic before we had distributed the 40 loads to the porters. Unfortunately there where some guys that showed hoping to get work that didn’t get any. Hopefully they will get some when the next expedition shows up.
The trek up the Baltoro Valley is a long walk. We hiked for six days and about 5-6 hours every day on small or non existing trails. It was rocks, sand and ice in an uneven mix. For a weak guy like me that is painful. My feet were not exactly happy after six hours of walking on rocks and glaciers.
About halfway on the trek the porters wanted a break so we had one rest day in a camp called Paiju. Our Guide had brought a live Goat for food. With my stomach problems I wasn’t so hungry for goat meat , neither was Michele so we gave it to the porters. They got very happy and had a little meatfest on our rest day in Paiju.
The higher up we got the better the views got. We passed some great mountains like the Trango Towers, Mustagh Tower and Masherbrum and at that point I even stopped whining about the pain in my feet. The experience culminated at Concordia. From that great junction of glaciers you can view some of the finest mountains in the world: Mitre Peak, Gasherbrum 4, Broad Peak and K2. If you go there in beginning of June when there’s not much people, like we did, it’s a truly amazing place.
From Concordia we had a five hours walk up the Godwin Austen Glacier to K2 base camp, including a tea break with two Austrian climbers at Broad Peak base camp. Just to make a our day a bit more interesting, with a teacup in my hand I got to watch a French guy fly down from high up on Broad Peak with a Paraglider. Not a bad tea break.
Anyway, we have now arrived at K2 base camp which will be our home for the next six weeks. Everything is good. The stomach problems that has been bothering me since I left my Pizza diet and ventured into the Pakistani food in Islamabad is now gone. My Italian mate Michele is my mentor on the food, he says that you can never eat too much Pizza. ;)
We are now getting ready to start climbing on K2, the mountain of my dreams.
If you have the possibility, check out the Baltoro Glacier and K2 on Goggle Earth. It’s pretty cool.
Lat N 35°50,34′
Lon E 076°30,85′
Book that I’m reading: Anthony Kiedis – Scar Tissue
Music on my MP3 player: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication