The search has been called off. Time has run out.
Three Ice Warriors have embraced a glorious end.
An end which has made them immortals in the annals of history.
An end which has epitomised their struggle to explore, dream, endeavour and discover.
They wrestled against the vows of nature, well-aware of the risks involved. These warriors must have a deep satisfying smiles on their faces when they must have realised that time has finally come, waiting somewhere in makeshift bivouac,
hoping that a rescue team might show up any moment. Their unbeatable valour and courage, brings back the memories of the warriors from the medieval times, which knew no fear, and laid down their lives even when outnumbered and outsmarted.
Goodbye Gerfried Goschl, Cedric Hahlen and Nisar Hussain.
The three member International team, which started their second summit push on Friday, March 9, never made it back to the camp. They were last seen some 400 meters short of the peak, by one of the Polish team member Alex Txikon, just before a fierce storm started pounding the 8,068 meters Gasherbrum-1. Poles made it safely to the Base Camp in midnight, the International team never did.
The rescue attempts, supported by several Pakistani climbers and Pakistan Military choppers, have now been called off. Gerfried’s brother, Wolfgang Goschl, who flew to Pakistan two days ago, finally decided to abandon the search and Rescue Operations. A small ceremony was conducted in the Base Camp.
The representative of Goschl and his team-members said:
“The search flights in Pakistan have recently been completed. Both sides of the mountain were flown by two helicopters. There are no signs of life of the climbers were discovered. It is now seen at the time to face reality. As hard as it falls to us all and they let go, we have no
choice. We really want to thank you all very much, have in recent days, hoping and praying with us. The press, we now ask ourselves in our grief and let alone in our pain”.
The three regular mountaineers have now turned themselves into legends. They will usher a new era in hard climbing-winter ascents and will help many around the world, learn from the mistakes they made.
International Team led by Austrian Goschl, who also has a brilliant record of winter climbs on several of the 8000ers in the world, were pitched to summit the G-1 also known as the Hidden Peak from the South side, a route which was never treaded before. Goschl was accompanied by Hahlen (Swiss), Nisar (Pakistan) and Carlos Suarez (Spain) and had charted out a thoroughly revised, water-tight plan to not only summit the peak but also pull an unprecedented Winter Ascent and Traverse.
Goschl relied heavily on his good friend Hussain who has climbed the peak several times, supporting expeditions in the capacity of a High Altitude Porter (HAP). He was also one of the youngest and the first Pakistani to summit all five 8000ers in the country.
After several weeks of constant struggle, the team managed to pitch camps all the way up to 6800meters, wrestling fierce
storms and the deadly Jetstream that pounded the Karakorum in January. They braced temperatures as low as -50 Celsius with wind speeds surging to a horrendous 200km/h.
They remained steadfast and persevered against the odds and finally made their first summit push in the mid of February. They had to face a quick withdrawal as the weather worsened and barely made to the Base Camp. They waited for another weather window which might give them the chance to summit the peak for the first time in winters, little realizing that they would never be able to return to the Base Camp to soak their feet in hot water.
The three-member team disappeared on March 9 at an approximate height of 7,700meters. They were last spotted by Alex just before a raging storm hit the mighty Gasherbrum-1, reducing visibility to zero. An already prevailing Solar Storm had disrupted radio and Sat-Phone communications between the climbers and the Base Camp, adding up to the difficulties in tracing the trio. Their route, which comprised of an ascent from the south and a descent from the north, further piled up the difficulties in tracing the lost climbers in the four-day Search and Rescue Operations that followed.
Pakistan Military provided two choppers which remain grounded for the first three days of the SAR operations as low
visibility and bad weather prevented them from carrying out the operations. Goshcl’s brother Wolfgang, finally decided to pull off the rescue attempts after six days.
“I'm not dead, I change only the rooms. I'm into you and go through your dreams”. (Michelangelo).
www.pakistan-explorer.comwould like to express our deepest condolences with the aggrieved families. May their soul rest in peace.
Simone Moro and Denis Urubko abandon the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat, on their way to Islamabad
Simone Moro and Denis Urubko, who decided to carry on with the gigantic task of taming Nanga Parbat in the dead of winters, even after the sturdy Poles have left the brutally tough mountain, have now abandoned the mission in wake of the extended winters in the Himalayas and the adjacent Karakorums.
Simone, Denis and Cory Richards (not Part of Nanga Parbat winter 2012) were the first team of mountaineers who were successfully able to summit the first Pakistani winter 8000er, Gasherbrum-2 last year, out rightly rejecting the earlier held view that none of the five 8000ers in the deadly Karakorum’s will ever be captured in winters.
G-2- (8,035m) considered one of the comparatively easier 8000ers in the world, is the only 8000er in Pakistan which has been taken down in winters.
For the moment, however, Simone and Urubko decided to walk away from the “Killer Mountain” as Karl Gable has reported an extended winters in the region.
“Everything is being packed.” said Simone on his blog. “We are here with our three Pakistanis, Saeed Jan, and Fakir Nur.With us there are already three carriers and 15 more are arriving tomorrow. We will take everything away from here and our tracks will disappear in a few hours”.
He further added, “We return home with no top but with the knowledge that mountaineering told for what it is, without exaggeration and without emphasis, without a struggle and heroism anachronistic, may still be of interest to an audience not only to specialists. Mountaineering is not just for the elite, or for a small club. It may be a subject matter and also normal people, also sensitive to vertigo. …. But we must inform, tell, and this is the responsibility and guilt, that we took....”.
Nanga Parbat, the second highest 8000er in Pakistan and ninth highest in the world, has of one of the deadliest climbing history. Better known as the “Killer Mountain”, Nanga Parbat claimed some 32 lives before its first successful attempt was made by Austrian Herman Buhl in 1953.
Details have now been coming in about the tragic death of Russian veteran climber Vitaly Gorelik which ultimately forced the Russian National Winter K-2 Expedition to abandon the mission of climbing the "Savage Mountain" in the dead of winter. Gorelik had vast experience of high altitude hard climbing and had already done several of the 8000ers, both solo as well as without supplementary oxygen.
The Trio Gorelik, Totmjanin and Shamalo were picthed amid the fiercest of blizzards and were able to make a deposit at 7000m just beneath the "Death Valley" by January 28-31. They tried to clear enough ground to pitch the tents but were forced to make an early descent as the Jetstream turned into a Hurricane and temperatures plummeted to -46 degrees Celsius. They returned safely to the Base Camp but Gorelik, by that time, had already acquired pneumonia and severe frostbite on fingers of both hands.
The team doctor who is a veteran and had been on many expeditions including Everest North Face, and K2 West Face, recommended an immediate evacuation by the Pakistan Army Aviation Helis but it could not be carried out as the Hurricane pounded the Karakorum.
Vitaly, known for his perseverance and strong will, wrestled his way for life for four continues days. He remained on Ventilator and gave up his battle for life on the fifth gruesome day, February 06.
His condition required deep ventilation lungs, which are only available in hospitals.
Gorelik's death has shattered the confidence of the rest of the four teams which have been aspiring to climb the other 8000ers in the region which have never been climbed in winters. Simone Moro and Denis Urubko, pitched in an attempt to scale Nanga Parbat, are in low spirits as Gorelik and Urubko have been close friends for years.
"I should write...Vitaly Gorelik was … it's such a terrible word «was»!"Urubko writes on his blog. "Vitaly Gorelik was a strong climber and a strong person. He respected himself and everyone else. All has ridiculously come to the end!"
The climbing community all over the world have expresssed their deepest condolences for the tragic death of Gorelik.
"If ever there had been a team that could pull K2 winter off, it was this Russian team of Giants," said the renowned Dutch climber Bob A. Schelfhout Aubertijn.
Canadian winter climber Louis Rousseau asked to make the following statement: "I want to express my admiration to all these ice warriors from the past, present and future who will have the courage and audacity to struggle on the slopes of K2 during winter season".
The battered and bruised Russian Team is still waiting for the hurricane to settle down so that they can be airlifted back to civilization.
The word Karakorum is a Turkish word which stands for “black rubble”. K-2 traces back its creation in the last of the Orogenic Movements (mountain building movement) some 300 million years ago. The Karakorum Range is
believed to have buckled up and overthurst on the face of Earth when the free-floating Indian plate collided against the pre-existing Eurasian Plate, causing an earthquake of the likes never encountered before. The giant collision caused the Karakorum and the Himalayas to pop up above the face of Earth, creating to what we now refer to, as the highest mountain range in the world.
Despite of these unproven theories, K-2 has a unique shape which gives it the typical look of a mountain rather than the flatter and easier to climb Everest. This Granite pyramid is consistently steep and stands 3000 meters from the base. It has some of the steepest vertical drops on almost all sides, which makes it all the more difficult to map a route to the top. K-2 is also ranked 22nd in Topographical Prominence as a considerably low
altitude trek can be traced all the way back to Everest in Nepal, having an average altitude of 4,594 metres (15,072 ft), at Mustang Lo, as both peaks have been the outcome of the same geological change in the past.
K-2 is located at the Northeastern border of Pakistan and its north face is located in the Chinese territory. An estimated eight square kilometers of area around K-2 holds another three 8000er’s and some more than six dozen 7000er’s and is also home of the longest glaciers on earth after the polar caps. Gasherbrum 1 also known as The Hidden Peak, Gasherbrum 2, and Broad Peak are located adjacent to K-2, which effectively makes it the climbing heaven for mountaineers from all over the world.
The giant rock is considered the ultimate challenge for the mountaineers and hard climbers. The deadliest recorded incident in the history of mountain climbing where no fewer than 11 mountaineers and climbers lost their lives on the “Savage Mountain” will perhaps suffice in justifying the magnitude of the lethal force K-2 exerts on the ones who attempt to conquer it.
2nd August, 2008, broke headlines all across the world when 11 mountaineers and high altitude porters (HAP) were wiped out in a blink of an eye when an overhanging Serac broke loose. Among all the 8000er’s in the world, K-2 not only is one of the steepest but offers a dangerous combination of Seracs and bottlenecks above 8000meters. This altitude is the threshold of human endurance where lack of oxygen and air pressure cause multiple abnormalities in a human body ranging from High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) apart from severe frost bite which can often lead to permanent amputations.
HACE is the cerebral sickness where a soft mist gathers inside the human skull causing the brain to malfunction, which thereby increases the risk of injuries two folds. Climbers report that they observe severely deteriorated decision making abilities to hallucinations at times. Meanwhile HAPE is the pulmonary sickness where dense fog accumulates inside the lungs due to lack of oxygen, heavy breathing and low atmospheric pressure. This can lead to ruptured lungs if the climber is not shifted immediately to low altitudes for rehabilitation.
On K-2, this 8000meter threshold is probably the starting point from where the toughest of the climbs are encountered. A 400m stretch of bottleneck, a narrow vertical alley, and several hundred tons overhang of ice has allowed a very few to pass through live and kicking. The point there onwards is also called as the “Death Valley”and has recorded the most number of causalities at this place.
Graham Bowley’s New York Times Bestseller “No Way Down: Life and death on K-2”is perhaps the most widely recognised account of the gory incident. Bowley states, “About the time many of the climbers were euphorically topping out — clicking photos and calling their loved ones from K2’s 28,251-foot summit — a giant sérac collapse wiped out the fixed ladders and ropes below, changing the terrain and creating a volatile funnel ripe for avalanches. Small errors and bad decisions made earlier in the day had set the stage for wide-scale disaster, and an already risky descent became a nightmarish free-for-all.”
The Serac had been hanging at the same spot for decades and although it always was a potent threat to the ambitious climbers, they have gradually started taking it for granted as it never broke off or produced avalanches. The free falling hundreds of tons of ice not only wiped away several climbers but also left many stranded above it with no way of climbing down. Many of the bodies were never recovered, marking it the most tragic incident in the climbing history.
What made the Serac to break loose is still a mystery while many of the scientists have argued that the changing climate and Global Warming are the two most probable explanations of the incident. Bowley’s description of the gory incident helped with the intricacies of the many disastrous accidents which have happened on the notorious mountain and has also helped planning and arranging proper safety measures for the climbing expeditions. The 2008 incident also triggered a controversy where the Government of Pakistan was blamed for loose regulations regarding the permissions to allow the expeditions to carry on with their mission without proper documentation. Several of the climbers were either not experienced enough to be a part of the expedition which intended to summit K-2 but many of them never had the experience of climbing even a 7000meter peak.
Alpine Club of Pakistan, which oversees the regulations of these climbing expeditions, now enforces strict regulations in managing the expeditions. For K-2 it has since been made mandatory that the aspiring climbers must have a climbing experience of any of the 8000er. Coupled with that, the climbers must have adequate experience of climbing various other 7000 meter peaks in order to qualify for the pitch. For a regular aspiring mountaineer, it takes almost 8-10 long years to prepare for an attempt for the Killer Mountain.
The Government of Pakistan also strictly follows the regulations regarding the load carried by the HAP and the amount of
minimum calories which must be provided to them by their clients. HAP are not allowed to go beyond the 7,500meter limit unless otherwise they intend to do so on their own will. A serving Pakistan Army Liaison Officer is also attached with the expeditions who stays in the Base Camp for as long as the expedition lasts. He not only overlooks the safety measure adopted by the expedition but also provides logistics and airlift support in case an evacuation is called in by the stuck climbers. Climbing expeditions usually have to submit a security fee of around $30,000 for the backup emergency support which is refundable in case no support was called in.
The incident happened in 2008, however, was not an isolated incident in the climbing history of K-2. The August 1986 American expedition met more or less the same fate when they started their ascent via the then-unclimbed Southwest Pillar, also known as the "Magic Line." Five mountaineers from the team led by John Smolich and Alan Pennington were
killed in a deadly avalanche while some eight others lost their lives in wake of raging blizzards and treacherous crevasses.
K-2 is also known to be the toughest to climb down. Causalities which occurred in the 100-years long climbing history of the mountain, most of them have happened during descent from the mountain and continues to be so this date. The technological advancements in equipment and clothing as well as better designed climbing equipments have considerably reduced the death ratio on the Killer Mountain and the ratio has now slide to a 1 out of three, still being one of the highest in the world.
_ Gasherbrum I
The climbers on G1 have been speedy right after their arrival in BC. Alex and Carlos carried fixed ropes up to 5800 meters on Tuesday. Gerfried Göschl's group went after the next day but had to turn back at 6,000m due to high risk of frostbitet, They said, "We left the gear cached up there and fled back down." The next planned round is for C1 at 6,200m.
On Friday Adam Bielecki from the Polish team went up with high altitude porters Ali and Shaheen to set up C1 at 5,930m. Hidden crevasses and weak snow bridges reportedly made for a dramatic climb. Adam said the men fell through several times and once had to descend 40 meters into a huge crevasse and walk along its bottom for 300m before finding a way out.
Pitching C1 was, "a constant fight against frostbite" Adam said about the cold coupled with hard wind. Artur and Janusz took the next shift, expecting to spend a night in C1 and scout the route to C2.
Rope by rope, the Russians forge their way up K2. Andrew Mariev and Alex Bolotov reached 7000m while Nickolay Totmjanin's men left BC on Saturday with the mission to establish camp 3.
K2 forecast by Karl Gabl
Elena Laletina of RussianClimb provided a fresh forecast for K2 by Austrian weather wizard Karl Gabl:
The main axis of the Jet-stream is still situated in Southern Pakistan (westerly component) and over Nepal in a South-westerly direction.
29.01. 30.01. 31.01. 1.02. 2.02.
6500m SW25 SW40 SW25 NW40 SW45 kph
7500 m SW55 SW60 SW45 NW80 SW80
Wind mainly from Southwest, exclusive on Sunday (29th) for a few hours from Northwest. After the 1st of February wind will get stronger and stormy over 7000m..
The 1st of Feb should be dry, the other days have weak signals for light snowfall, from 3rd to 4th February snow fall will increase a bit.
Temperature: free atmosphere
29.01. 30.01. 31.01. 1.02. 2.02.
6500m -31 -31 -33 -28 -28 °C
7500 m -38 -41 -35 -36 -36
No fewer than two teams are engaged to scale Gasherbrum-1, the second highest peak in the asherbrum Massif and have been engaged in acclimatisation rigours for the last few weeks. Gasherbrum-1, also known as the Hidden Peak or the K-5, is the Highest among the all the seven Gasherbrum peaks in Pakistan and is the second highest in Pakistan after K-2. Currently Gerfried Goschl along with his group of five accomplished mountaineers will be attempting to scale the giant rock while another group of Polish Mountaineers will be pitched in the same battle. G-1 has never been summated in winters and is one of the remaining four 8000ers in Pakistan which have never been scaled in winters. The team includes Darek Zaluski, Nisar Hussain, Cedric Hahlen, Alex Txikon and Carlos Suarez and will be treading on a new route on the 8,080 metre peak. The Polish team comprises of Adam Bielecki, Agnieszka Bielecka, Janusz Gołąb led by the renowned Polish winter climber Artur Hajzer. The Polish team has already covered considerable ground as the two teams are locked in fierce battle to summit the
peak for the first time in winters, although in a healthy competitive and friendly environment. The Polish Team leader Hajzer wrote in his message on January 19.
"We are bivouacking in Gore II at 4,300 m above sea level. There is no snowfall; a 15 cm snow cover; cloud top height - 6,000 m; weak wind - 15 km/h; 80% cloudiness; the temperature in tents is -10°C. We have reached this place after three nights in Jola, Payu and Urdukas. We will reach the base camp in two or three days, depending on porters' decision. The weather conditions are favourable for marching, though our porters would like it to be sunnier. On the other hand, it is warmer thanks to the clouds, i.e. -10°C at this time of the year is a rather high temperature. Military posts that we pass inspire our respect. In small huts without heating, in the middle of the glacier soldiers guard vast boarders of their country. Their situation is unenviable. From Payu we follow the Baltoro Glacier. The path is rather distinct: mounds and tracers show us the route; military telephone cables are sometime visible."
Goschl's team also includes Nisar Hussain, the young Pakistani prodigy who has the accolade of climbing all the five-8000ers of Pakistan and was the first and the youngest Pakistani to do it. Goschl spoke highly of Hussain who works as a High Altitude Porter (HAP) and although he normally climbs for money, Goschl says Hussain also has personal ambitions regarding mountaineering. Goschl said, "Since we first knew each other in 2003 Nisar has been a close friend of mine. He has been personal HAP (high altitude porter) for my team members on Nanga Parbat, G2 and K2. Nisar climbed all 8000ers in Pakistan several times, always without artificial oxygen, and he set a new record last summer as the first to summit Pakistan 8000ers ten times (1xK2, 1xNP, 1xBP, 4xG2, 3xG1). No doubt he is the strongest climber in Pakistan. Of course he climbs for money (as do all HAPs) most of the time but it's also his passion. This winter for the first time Nissar will join a team not because of salary but because he wants to be part of the project. He knows G1 very, very well! Down the road we'll try to bring him as member in our Nepal expeditions since it's his biggest dream."
Gasherbrum which in Balti means either "Beautiful Mountain" or "Shining Wall", was first successfully scaled in 1958 by Americans, Andrew Kauffman and Pere Schoening. Wojciech Kurtyka and Jerzy Kukuczka were the first Poles, who summated it in 1983. They climbed in alpine style via the southwest face. The most popular classic route leads from the west side and in the upper parts goes through the
so-called "Japanese Couloir", situated in the highest part of the north-west face.
Reports are still coming in as the Russian giants continue with their attempt to scale the Savage K-2 for the first time in winters. Karakorum, unlike its neighbouring Himalayas in Nepal, is famous for the harshest of the winters in the world after the polar caps. While the mountaineers keep fighting the below freezing temperatures, what has been more of a trouble lately are the fierce winds which have the might to blow away almost anything in its path. The Russian team has been battering terrible weather conditions for consecutive days now and much of their plans for the day ahead have been laid to waste. The formidable “Ice Warriors” have still managed to fix Camp-2 via the Cessen Route and are waiting impatiently in their for the weather window to climb to higher altitudes. The Russian National Team Expedition K2 Winter Ascent official website on January 22nd, 2012 read, "Jan, 20 Iljas's group descended to BC (Base Camp). Jan, 22 Alexey Bolotov's group returned to BC too. Guys lifted loads to C2. C1 and C2, broken by the hurricane, has been reset. They couldn't climb above C2 via fixed some days earlier ropes because of the strongest winds. Yesterday, close to the evening, the sun appeared on the sky for 30 minutes. We didn't see the sun from Jan, 12. But today, Jan, 22 the weather extremely worsened. The trio led by Nick Totmjanjn are ready for the work on the route”.
One of the nine-member team, Vladimir Belous, has already been sent back after acquiring severe frost bite on his toe during the hurricane last week. He had to descend to lower altitudes after losing his crampons. Weather conditions have
been predicted to remain turbulent for another two days before the climbers will hopefully find a weather window to forge ahead with their mission. Meanwhile two other teams are working their way for the virgin winter ascent of the Gasherbrum-1 also known as the Hidden peak or K-5. Temperatures at Concordia during the nights regularly plummets to -25 degrees Celsius, making it all the more difficult to survive the perilous conditions.