Trey and I have been climbing together since 1991 and were together on his last attempt on K2 in 2007, on the same route. Here is what he said on his call today:
It took them seven hours for move the 1200m elevation from base camp to camp 2. After 3 days of heavy snow at base camp and reported strong winds up high, the route was surprisingly free of dangerous snow build up and was scoured down to hard, great climbing snow. Still the princess of alpine climbing seldom concedes all and provided a strong ‘ refreshing’ wind from the summit.
Its typically a good strategy to skip camp one on the summit push because it was established early on the acclimatization schedule. As climber’s bodies adapt to less oxygen and are able to perform at higher altitudes the night saved at camp 1 will shorten the summit push – needing less days to be up high.
Tomorrow’s efforts will bring them from camp 2’s elevation of 6350m up to 7100m and the steep slopes of camp 3. As we spoke Trey said three others I knew were with them: Fabrizio Zangrilli, a German couple I remember from 2077 named Rolf and Gerlinde, and a Polish gal named King I have not met. Excellent company at those altitudes!
During our brief call I was reminded of how difficult it is to survive at that altitude. Trey’s conversation showed shortness of breath and his mental acuity was not dangerously compromised but definitely altered. There was constant coughing in the back ground.
After tomorrow’s trip to camp 3 they will move to camp 4 located on the relatively flat terrain of the lower shoulder and the likelihood of meeting several climbers taking advantage of the same weather window on the Abruzzi Route. Mark your calendar for July 27 as the day they will move from the highest camp, to the summit.