Zakaj kralj Karakoruma pozimi še ni klonil

Že precej odprav je poiskušalo osvojiti K2 pozimi. Alpinistična srenja loči koledarsko zimo, ki traja do 21. marca in meteorološko zimo, ki se konča konec februarja. Vrh še vedno ostaja nedotaknjen v takšnem ali drugačnem zimskem obdobju in še vedno čaka na odpravo, ki bo imela dovolj sreče in poguma da ji uspe zgrabiti enega večjih alpinističnih dosežkov modernega časa.

Od doma sem odšel 3.1.2020 in naslednji dan prišel v Islamabad. Letalska povezava s Scardujem, prestolnico Gilgit-Baltistana, kjer čaka tudi K2, je pozimi slaba in le občasna, tako da smo se z letalom odpravili proti Gigitu, ki ima redne povezave od tam pa s slabimi avtom do Scarduja po zimski Karakorumski avtocesti. Vožnja je zaradi sneženja, cestnih del, predvsem pa zaradi zlizanih letnih gum in okvar na avtomobilu trajala 16 ur, čeprav smo premagali le 180 km dolgo pot. Vmes smo zamenjali tudi avto , ki je bil prav tako brez gretja in na pol odprt kar pri 20 tih stopinjah pod ničlo ni prijetno.

V Scarduju smo pet dni čakali vodjo Mingmo G in alpinista Gao Lija, ki naj bi zamudila zaradi vize, ki do časa ni bila pripravljena. Vožnja do Ascoleja je bila zimskemu času in že opisane problematike prevoznih sredstev “zanimiva”, za evropske razmere pa smrtno nevarna. V Ascoleju, zadnji vasici pred Baltorom smo ponovno čakali predolgo, razlog naj bi bili pakistanski nosači, čeprav som bili že nekaj dni v zamudi.

Do baze smo hodili devet dni, gazili mestoma tudi več kot meter snega, temperature pa so bile ves čas globoko pod lediščem in prispeli na cilj 22.1.2020. Bazni tabor smo postavili zelo nizko, kar šest kilometrov stran od vznožja gore, kar je celo niže od področja, kjer se postavljajo letni bazni tabori, kljub nasprotovanju s strani Johna Snorrija, ki je bil sicer glavni pobudnik zimskega vzpona.

Po dnevu počitka smo začeli z vzponom. Prva rotacijo smo zaključili nekoliko na ABC jem, ki leži tik ob vznožju Abruzzijeve smeri, ki je bila tudi naša smer. Druga rotacija se je končala na C1 (prvi višinski tabor, 6000m), do kamor smo ob tem tudi uspeli napeljati vrvi. Mingma G in Gao Li sta takrat povsem brez napovedi in brez kakršnegakoli obvestila drugim udeležencem, na C1 tudi predspala in se vrnila naslednji dan z “slabimi” izkušnjami. Mingma G je napovedal da se najbrž na goro ne vrne več, češ ,da je premraz in da se boji tudi za svoje tri Sherpe, ki naj bi bili med najbolj izkušenimi na svetu. Vsi imajo “pod streho” vsaj nekaj vzponov na Everest, zimski Lhotse, Anapurno, Kanchenjungo…

Tretja rotacija se je za Sherpe končala nekoliko kad C1 in po prespani noči  na C1, prav tako z argumentom o prehudem mrazu. S Snorrijem sva delo na gori nadaljevala sama, napeljala vrvi skoraj do C2, slabih 6700m in prespala na gori dve zaporedni noči brez problemov, ki naj bi bili večji od pričakovanih.
Mingma G je dva dni po tretji rotaciji naročil lastno evakuacijo zaradi domnevno slabega lastnega počutja in skrbi Gao Lija zaradi domačega Korona virusa, čeprav je bilo jasno da se Gao domov na Kitajsko zaradi karantene ne bo mogel takoj vrniti, z domačimi pa je bil lahko stalno v kontaktu preko satelitskega telefona. Internetne povezave, naj nam zaradi okvare Thuraya satelitskega sprejemnika, ni bilo moč vzspostaviti. Evakuacijo naj bi Mingma G plačal sam, nam to tudi zatrdil, saj Nepalci nimajo možnosti zavarovanja za reševanje zaradi prepogostih potegavščin in zlorab zavarovalnic v preteklosti. Za evakuacijo skrbita vedna dva helikopterja, kar pomeni šest prostih sedežev, cena je ne glede na zasedenost helikopterjev enaka. Tako smo imeli možnost transporta tudi drugi člani odprave. Odprava je bila teoretično končana saj so se brez vodje in enega člana odprave možnosti za uspeh precej zmanjšale. Če ne bi izkoristili te možnoasti prevoza, nas je v vsakem primeru čakala ponovna pot čez boltoro, brez osvojenega vrha in s tem dodatna nesmiselna izguba časa.

Kljub dejstvom je bil Snorri še vedno odločen ostati na gori, tako da v trenutku klicane evakuacije, tudi sam še nisem vedel, kako se bom odločil. Snorri je isto jutro, ko naj bi del odprave odletel v dolino, zaprosil tri preostale šerpe, naj začnejo z oskrbo C1 in morda C2 s kisikom in dodatnimi šotori. Podali so se na pot, vendar so že po dveh urah sporočili, da se je eden od Sherp poškodoval in da se vsi trije vračajo v bazo. Poškodovanec je sam prehodil šest kilometrov težkega terena, kar govori o “teži” poškodbe, vendar smo se kljub temu odločili da se bo vrnil v dolino s helikopterjem, ki je bil sicer že klican in napovedan popoldan istega dne. Nogo smo mu imobilizirali. Mingma G je sicer že sredi dneva evakuacijo preklical, češ da je predraga, sam pa sem ga postavil pred dejstvo in sicer:” če sherpa lahko hodi bo ostal tukaj in odprava se nadaljuje, če ne more hoditi potrebuje helikopter, ker namreč tudi Baltora v zimskih razmerah na poti nazaj, ne bo mogel prehoditi.” Helikopter je po preklicu preklica le prišel in vsi, vključno s Snorrijem, smo se tega dne vrnili z gore, saj so bile tudi teoretične možnosti za uspeh, pri tako okrnjeni ekipi, močno zmanjšane, oziroma nemogoče.

Nihče od nujnih evakuirancev (Mingma G in Sherpa) nista potrebovala medicinske oskrbe v Pakistanu, kjlub temu, da to oskrbo zavarovalnice Nepalcem krijejo. Morda nekoč dobimo podatke o tem kako zelo bolan je bil Mingma G in kako zelo je bila noga Sherpe poškodovana (Sherpa namreč ni šepal, ko ga nismo opazovali).

Opisani dogodki namreč postavijo sum, da je bila odprava pekinjena namerno, ne vemo zakaj. Sum podprira tudi neizpodbitno dejstvo, da so vizumi Sherpam pretekli konec februarja, torej bi morali glede na opisane pogoje na Baltoru in pogoje na Karakorumski cesti, bazo zapustiti že vsaj deset dni pred tem, torej v času, ko bi se obdobje za vzpon na vrh, šele pričelo.

Sam se izrazu “komercialna odprava” sicer izogibam, ker do sedaj še nisem dobil razlage zakaj bi bila neka odprava kalsične in druga komercialna, kljub temu da se vse odprave poslužujejo istih lokalnih nosačev in sherp, preko istih lokalnih agencij in vojaškega osebja. Ob tej odpravi pa se ne morem znebiti občutka, da je ta odprava res služila le komercialnim ciljem nekaterih ljudi. Upam da bova s Snorrijem nekoč dobila zadovoljivo razlago, ki bo logično podprla dogodke na gori, kajti izgovori o prehudem mrazu enostavno ne bodo dovolj, saj smo bili tam ljudje, ki smo bili na vremenske pogoje, ki so bili na tej odpravi boljši od pričakovanih, pripravljeni. Vsi od članov odprave smo najmanj enkrat že stali na K2, vsi imamo za sabo vsaj nekaj osemtisočako, kar je zadosten podatek ki podpira dejstvo o naši pripravljenosti. Vremenski pogoji so bili letos presenetljivo dobri, vetrovi v bazi nikoli niso presegli 20 km/h, na gori pa vsaj na višini , ki smo jo dosegli, nikoli 40 km/h . Cena odprave je bila previsoka, da bi se zadovljila z dosedanjo razlago Mingme G, ki temelji na smešnih “naključjih”, ki se na tako resni odpravi nikoli ne bi smela zgoditi.




There have been many expeditions trying to conquer K2 in the winter. Mountain climbing separates the calendar winter, which lasts until March 21, and the meteorological winter, which ends in late February. The summit still remains intact during one winter or another, and is still awaiting an expedition that will be fortunate enough and courageous enough to grab one of the great mountaineering achievements of modern times.

I left home on 3.1.2020 and arrived in Islamabad the next day. The air connection to Scardu, the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan, where K2 is waiting, is poor in the winter and only occasional, so we departed by plane to Gigit, which has regular connections and from there to Scardu via the winter Karakorum Highway. The driving took 16 hours because of snow, road works, and especially because of slippery tires and car breakdowns, although we only managed a 180 km long route. In the meantime, we also replaced a car that was also without heat and half open at 20 degrees below zero. We got the replacement car only due ingenuity of our guide Serbaz , who made a deal with a local driver of 50 years old Toyota pick up.

In Scardu, we waited five days for Mingmo G the leader and mountaineer Gao Li ,to be late for a visa that was not ready at the time. Driving to Ascole was "interesting" in the winter due  to the already described transport problems, and also life-threatening for the European standards. We waited too long in Ascole, the last village before Baltoro, for the, even though we were already delayed for several days.

We walked to the base camp for nine days, trailing more than a meter of snow in places and the temperatures were deep below freezing all the time and reached our destination on 22.1.2020. The base camp was set very low, six kilometres away from the foot of the mountain, which is even lower than the area where the annual base camps are set up, despite opposition from John Snorri and me, who was otherwise the initiator of the winter climb.

After a day of rest, we began our ascent. We finished the first rotation a bit on ABC, which lies just at the foot of Abruzzi's direction, which was also our direction. The second rotation ended at C1 (first altitude camp, 6000m), to which we also managed to set the ropes. Mingma G and Gao Li completely unannounced and without any notice to the other participants, decided to slep on C1 and returned the next day with “bad” experiences. Mingma G has announced that he is probably no longer returning to the mountain, claiming on to low temperatures and that he is also afraid for his three Sherpas, who are among the most experienced in the world. They all have “under the roof” at least some climbs on Everest, winter Lhotse, Anapurna, Kanchenjungo…

The third rotation ended a bit above C1 and after a sleepless night on C1for sherpas, also claiming on to hard conditions. Snorri and I continued our work on the mountain by ourselves, roping almost to C2, and slept on the mountain for two consecutive nights without any problems, to be larger than expected.
Two days after the third rotation, Mingma G ordered his own evacuation due to his bad health and  due to Gao Li's  concern over the domestic Korona virus, although it was clear that Gao would not be able to return home immediately to China due to border quarantine. He was also in contact with his home via satellite telephone. We were unable to establish an Internet connection due to a Thuraya satellite receiver failure. The evacuation was supposed to be paid by Mingma G himself, as confirmed by us, since Nepalis have no insurance option to deal with because of too many pranks and misuse of insurance companies in the past. Evacuation is always provided by two helicopters, which means six seats available, the price is the same regardless of the occupancy of the helicopters. So we had the opportunity to transport other members of the expedition. The expedition  was theoretically complete, since without the leader and one member the chances of success were greatly reduced. If we did not take advantage of this possibility of transportation, we were in any case waiting for another journey across the Boltoro, without a conquered summit, and thus an extra pointless waste of time. Two days before evacuation John Snorri , as the initiator and also the theoretical leader of the expedition, was trying to convince Serbaz, Passang Namke, Tamting and Phur Galjen to stay on the mountain and proceed with the expedition. At that time he also discovered the fact, that we do not have enough food for planed expedition. People responsible for food supplies only order one month amount, following Mingma G orders, despite the logical fact, that the Expedition should be at least two month long. The end of meteorological winter is 21. of february and we have been planning our arrival to base camp approximately on 16.2.2020.

Despite the facts, Snorri was still determined to stay on the mountain, so at the time of the evacuation call, I myself, did not know how to make the decision. Snorri asked the three remaining sherpas to start supplying C1 and possibly C2 with oxygen and additional tents the same morning as part of the expedition was to fly to the valley. They set off on the trail, but after two hours, it was reported that one of Sherpas was injured and all three were returning to base. The injured man walked six kilometres of difficult terrain alone, which indicates the “gravity” of the injury, but we nevertheless decided to return to the valley with a helicopter, which had already been called and announced the afternoon of the same day. We immobilisedSherpas leg. Mingma G canceled the evacuation in the middle of the day, saying it was too expensive, but than I spoke to Mingma G: "If the sherpa can walk, he will stay here and the expedition continues. If he cannot walk, he needs a helicopter because winter conditions on the way back, he will not be able to pass. " The helicopter came after the cancellation of the cancellation and everyone, including Snorri, went to Scardu.

None of the emergency evacuees (Mingma G and Sherpa) needed medical care in Pakistan. The medical insurance cover the expenses of the treatment  to Nepalese. Maybe one day we get information about how bad Mingma G medical conditionswas and how badly Sherpa's leg was injured (Sherpa didn't limp when we weren't watching him). We both think that we need the clear explanation about the reasons for that kind of behaviour of crucial members, while the costs for both oh us were 88.600,00 USD, transport to Islamabad not included.

The events described here, raise suspicion that the expedition was baked on purpose, we do not know why. The suspicion is also supported by the fact that the Sherpas visas expired at the end of February, so, given the conditions described on Baltaro and the conditions on Karakorum Road, the base camp should have left at least ten days before (15 day transport is usually expected), at a time when the peak period would just started.
I myself avoid the term “commercial expedition”, because I have not yet received an explanation as to why some expedition would be cliche and other commercial, despite the fact that all expeditions use the same local carriers and sherpas through the same local agencies and military personnel. With this expedition, however, I cannot get rid of the feeling, that really only served the commercial goals of some people. I hope that Snorri and I will someday get a satisfactory explanation that will logically support the events on the mountain, because the excuses about the cold will simply not be enough, since the weather conditions on the mountain were better than expected. We've all stood at K2 at least once, and we all have climbed at least a few eight thousand meter peaks, which is sufficient information to support the fact that we were ready. The weather conditions were surprisingly good this year, the winds at the base never exceeding 20 km / h, and on the mountain at least at the altitude we reached, never 40 km / h. The cost of the expedition was too high to satisfy Mingma G's interpretation so far, based on ridiculous "coincidences" that should never have taken place on such a serious expedition.