American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, K2 Attempt and Tragedy

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1988

K2 Attempt. Swiss Jean Troillet and I arrived at the traditional K2 Base Camp at 5000 meters on June 16. Erhard Loretan had had to drop out of the team when in February he was swept down by an avalanche on the Mönch and suffered serious back injuries. We hoped to make a new alpine-style route on K2’s west face via a line we call the “Sickle,” which follows clockwise the series of snowfields and rock barriers to the left of the distinct central rock “pear.” The weather conditions were the worst I have ever seen in the area. Of the 56 days after reaching Base Camp, we did not have a single really clear day. Acclimatization up to 7000 meters was a harassing task. First we walked to Savoia Pass on June 23 and 24. Snowfall forced us down from 6700 meters on the Abruzzi Ridge, where we climbed on July 1 and 2, and from 6400 meters on Summa Ri on July 5 and 6. On July 15, we climbed in a single push from 4800 to 7200 meters and after spending the night at 7200 meters, we decided our acclimatization was sufficient. We then turned to the west face of K2. We started up it twice, on July 25 and August 8, but each time we were forced to return to the base of the face from 6400 meters by big snowfalls.

Wojciech Kurtyka, Klub Wysokogórski, Kraków, Poland

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