K2 Ski Expedition – Update 1
2009-06-04 – Skardu
Altitude: 2220 meters
A lot has happened the last few days. Some good and some bad.
I arrived in Islamabad last Sunday without any problems. I didn’t miss any flights, all my bags arrived, even the gear that I sent by cargo a couple of weeks ago was in Islamabad waiting for me. Chocking!
A last check of the gear before we head into the mountains. Michele is stoked to be holding such a nice pair of skis.
But as always on my trips, some things doesn’t go as planned. This time it wasn’t me but my climbing partner Michele who got into trouble. When I was about to board the plane in Frankfurt I got an sms from Michele saying: “Do you have Pakistan Visa? I stop in airport because I don’t have Visa“. Apparently Michele had forgot to get the Visa that one needs to enter Pakistan. That turned out to be a small problem. Michele went to the Embassy of Pakistan in Milano last Monday and got the Visa in one day and could get on a plane for Pakistan two days later. So today when he joined me here in Skardu we could just laugh about that incident.
A much less entertaining thing was the news we got from the Ministry of Tourism. The other day I went there on what I thought was the regular “sign some papers and smile” exercise and I would walk away with the climbing permit for K2 and trekking permit for Laila Peak. But that was not the case. We got the climbing permit for K2 alright but they didn’t give us the trekking permit to go to Laila Peak. I tried to ask them why and the funny thing was that they didn’t have an answer. They just said NO. We put in a second application for the trekking permit but it didn’t help. The answer was the same. I’m very disappointed that we can’t go to Laila Peak since that, along with K2, was the big goal of this trip. It’s hard to see anything positive in that now but I guess in a few days I might find something.
The main man in Islamabad. He knew all the hot places to visit, like pizza restaurants…
Other than that I have started to feel some movements in my stomach and lost my appetite. I must have caught some sort of bug which is not uncommon when you travel to Pakistan. So far it’s not so bad and I’ve started to eat antibiotics. Hopefully it will be all gone in a few days.
The good things then.. Well, we are on the way towards K2. It has been my dream for many years now and finally it is happening. So things could be worse.
Tomorrow we will drive up to Askole and from there we will start the six days long trek towards K2 base camp. More news when we arrive in base camp around June 11.
K2 and Laila Peak Ski Expedition 2009
In the end of May I’m going to Pakistan with my Italian friend Michele Fait to try to climb and ski the worlds second highest mountain K2 (8612m). As acclimatization for K2 we will make an attempt to ski Laila Peak (6069m).
The expedition starts on May 30 when we will fly to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. We will spend a few days in the city for meetings with the Pakistan Alpine club to organize climbing permit and Karakurum Magic Mountain (KMM), our Trekking Agency. KMM helps us with all the logistics in Pakistan and will set us up with a base camp team that will cook food for Michele and I when we are in base camp.
From Islamabad we have a one hour flight up north to Skardu, the last town before we hit the mountains. Skardu is our last opportunity to pick up gear and food that we need for our two months stay in the mountains. Epi gas for our Primus stoves, chips and chocolate bars are some of the things we will buy in Skardu.
From Skardu a five hours drive takes us to the small village of Hushe at the end of the road. From there on we will continue on foot. Around May 6 we start the two days trek towards Laila Peak.
Laila Peak route
Laila Peak is one of the most beautiful mountains in Pakistan – if not the world -with its summit forming a perfect needle shape. The peak is synonymous with its northwest face which drops down the mountains at almost uniform gradient forming a giant ramp. Its northern and eastern sides consist of contrasting steep granite. The mountain is located east of the Gondogoro glacier and west of the Chogolisa Glacier in the Masherbrum Mountains of Baltistan. Most people have set eyes on the peak after crossing the Gondogoro La from Concordia.
The first ascent was by a four man British team including Simon Yates, Sean Smith and Mark Miller who climbed the peak in 1987 via the west face from the Gondogoro Glacier. Simon Yates dedicated a chapter in his book The Flame of Adventure on the ascent of Laila Peak.
With approximately 1500m ascent the mountain can be climbed in alpine style in one day but many people will choose to bivi on route then summit and descend on the second day. Climbing is mid-grade with an inclination of no more than 55 degrees.
In 2005 Jörgen Aamot and I made two attempts to climb and ski the northwest face of Laila Peak. On both occasions the top section was too icy to ski so we turned around at 5950m and skied down to the Gondogoro Glacier (4500m). Its my favorite ski descent of all times.
This summer we will spend about two weeks on Laila Peak. It will be the perfect warm-up for K2 and hopefully we can ski from the summit this time.
K2 Cesen route
K2 is the second highest mountain in the world and is located on the border between China and Pakistan. Reinhold Messner called K2 the Mountain of Mountains after his ascent of K2 in 1979. This pyramid of a mountain is right in the heart of the Karokoram Range and can be seen in its entirety from Concordia. It is at the head of the Godwin Austin Glacier which unites with a second glacier at Concordia to form the famous Baltoro Glacier. It is said to be the ultimate climb, since many consider it to be much more technically challenging than Mount Everest.
In 1954 the Italians Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni were the first to summit K2. They climbed the Abruzzi ridge.
K2 is known as the Savage Mountain due to the difficulty of ascent and the high fatality rate among those who climb it. For every four people who have reached the summit, one has died trying. Among the eight-thousanders K2 has the second highest climbing mortality rate.
After Laila Peak we will arrive at K2 base camp around June 20. Then we have about three weeks of acclimatization before we try for the summit. The route we will try to climb and ski is called The Cesen Route and is the south-southeast ridge.
Fredrik’s trekking agency in Pakistan: Karakurum Magic Mountain
The Flame of Adventure by Simon Yates
My Vertical World by Jerzy Kukuczka