Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Savage Mountain

The Russians are the toughest people, probably more than anybody else, but this time they’ve gone too far to demonstrate it…
This year a team formed by several prestigious Russian eight thousanders attempted what as of today is probably the most ambitioned climbing record, sadly yet to be achieved…

K2 is known as the Savage Mountain due to the difficulty of ascent and the second-highest fatality rate for those who climb it. For every four people who have reached the summit, one has died trying. And it’s said that whoever attempts to climb it doesn’t descend without paying its toll. It might be frostbitten body parts or the live of you climbing partner that you have to leave behind.
Unlike Annapurna, the mountain with the highest fatality rate, K2 has never been climbed in winter.

The Russian Expedition has lost few of its team members in the last few weeks, due to severe frostbite in hands and feet. And yesterday Vitaly Gorelik died in his tent at basecamp when his heart stopped beating after four days clinging to life. I don’t think many people can understand how extreme the conditions are up there, and how severe the suffering for each one of these tough Russian mountaineers has been for the last few weeks, while they tried to conquer one on the most extreme climbing challenges yet to be achieved.

May his soul rest in peace…

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Our climbing plan

This is our climbing plan for my beautiful 7000, and it looks so exciting! Insane I must say :S

There are many ice walls and crevasses between BC to Camp-1, especially closed to Camp-1.
From ABC to Camp-1, we’ll need to find the exact route and fix the rope for rest of the members. It takes time to find the route among the ice walls and crevasses. We’ll need at least 500 to 700m rope, ice screws and snow bars. We’ll also carry 2 ladders in case crevasses become bigger.
It takes between 4 to 7 days to cross and reach Camp-1.
ABC should be between BC to Camp1. After that, all members should move to camp-1,
Individual climbers or HA porters can’t go back to BC to get food or for rest, because it’s too dangerous to come back to BC alone or even two person. Therefore we’ll need to carry the food and the entire stuff needed in Camp1, and so it is better to set BC in Camp-1 for all climbers, instead of coming down to BC again and again to take the food, which is a high risk. Once Camp-1 is established, then we can easily summit.
There are some crevasses until the summit and we’ll have to find the route again, but it’s more easy.

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Preparing my ascent to Passu Peak

Technical climbing, this is an obstacle race to an ice dome on the top of Batura Muztagh. On the first few days of climbing from Basecamp to Camp 1, we’ll ascend 950m of ice, hidden crevasses, and ice shoulders. Then we´ll gradually sail through an ocean of ice between Camp 1, 2 and 3, and after that we’ll have to negotiate our final push to Passu Peak summit on a technical climb, finding crevasses again, and some mixed climbing. The ice flow does not stays the same every year, especially considering the global warming, and our success going across all crevasses will mostly depend on the snow conditions.

Getting ready for this climb is going to be the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life. There is a long way ahead to get ready for this challenge, and considering all different factors that come into play, I have to trace a plan for long term success on this climb that will also open the door to my success climbing a big 8000 next year:

· Fitness: This is a high altitude expedition, where we are expecting days of very hard and sustained work for up to 12 hours under extreme weather conditions. On the first stages from Basecamp to Camp 1 I’ll need to carry loads of around 25 kilos. On our final push to the summit we’ll be moving through the frontiers of what in mountaineering is called the Dead Zone, altitude above a certain point where the amount of oxygen is not high enough to sustain human life. In the dead zone I’ll need to breath around 15 times for each step to be taken, and in just 8 hours I’ll burn around 12000 calories, which is 10 times more than the amount burned on a regular day. A very specific training plan covering both the physical and technical aspects of the climb must be elaborated and complemented with a diet and support from a doctor to make sure everything is in order before departure.

· Teamwork: Having a strong team in place will be the most fundamental part of the engine driving me up to the top of my mountain. Team member must have the required fitness and technical levels in order to secure a safe and successful expedition. This climb to Passu Peak has the particularity that individual climbers in the team can’t go back to Basecamp to get food or for rest, because it’s too dangerous and costly in terms of time and energy. Therefore one member on the team getting affected by altitude sickness or any other issue, will force the whole team to abort the expedition. For the same reason we are planning to move all stuff from Basecamp at 4100m up to Camp 1 at 5050m, instead of coming down to BC again and again. This mean we´ll have to work very efficiently as a team distributing tasks such to opening the route and secure it, while carrying all stuff that will make a continuous stay at high altitude sustainable. Finding the right team member with similar levels, aspirations and enough time and money, is becoming the most difficult part of this expedition.

· Logistic: This is by far the most complex adventure I ever managed to lead when it comes to setting up all logistics. There are tasks of all sort of colors and flavors, and a gigantic amount of time and effort to be spent from the very first day I decided to embark in this venture. From looking for detailed information on the Peak and climbing routes, sources of weather prediction, buying and testing the right gear and community equipment, to liaising with local companies and handing over to them most of the paperwork, road transfers, hotels, food provisioning, helicopter rescue hiring, etc..

· Risk and fear management: This is a technical climb with many factors that will seriously affect our safety if we are not physically and mentally prepared to confront the risks and mitigate them. Training to progress on ice and mixed terrain, and having excellence on self-rescue techniques plus practicing it with the team during our first stages of the expedition, will make us feel stronger and being able to manage the fear when we come across difficult situations. Feeling physically strong and having the best climbing gear and equipment is also fundamental to feel capable of breaking or mental limits and having a safe and happy trip up to the summit and back home.

 

In this blog I want to share all sort of information about the plan and how to execute it, making especial emphasis on the tools I use to work through all logistics and communicate with people involved in the expedition, and how is my approach to work through all problems we all encounter when embarking in a big expedition.

 

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Good luck happens when Preparedness meets Opportunity

This is one of my favorite quotes from my Famous Luck Quotes Collection. I’m so tired of hearing friends and family saying how lucky I am, that one day I decided to put together a bunch of luck quotes and shared then on my social networks on a daily basis. Preparedness and Opportunity are two concepts that I want to blog about in this forum.

Preparedness …

For a climber 50% of success comes along with preparation, 50% weather conditions and some other external factors. Up there, in these gigantic mountains there is no room for little mistakes, and to avoid them there is always a long process of preparing every single ascent. Some of these mistakes cannot be mitigated, but they can be easily avoided by investing the right amount of time and effort on preparation

Of course for a mountain climber being successful on an expedition means summiting the mountain/s and going back home safe and happy. I can spend hours talking about this, especially because most times the success is not only rated by how many meters you ascended, or whether or not you reached the top of you target. And we can also spend hours talking about what is the meaning of being successful for a PFE on his/her expedition…

In this blog I want to talk a lot about preparedness for big expeditions.

So what an expedition is all about?

A – Getting up to the top of one peak by using one specific technique and style previously selected according to different factors, mainly our technical expertise, but also how we want our success to be rated based on how previous summits to the same peak were achieved.

B – Climbing one peak up to the point where we think we gave our best, we made good progress on our learning journey as climbers, we made good friends, we got to know more about the local culture and mother nature, AND we got to know more about ourselves

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Passu Peak Expedition 2012

Two summits of a very unique Peak, very rarely climbed, in the Heart of the Karakoram mountain range in Pakistan. The first one is Passu Diar (7295m), and its first summit was done on 1998, very beautiful almost virgin peak… The second is Passu Sar (7478m) and it was first climbed on August 1978, very especial date for me since I was only three months old by that time. On this expedition we are going to attempt a combined climb of both summits on the 34 anniversary of it first climb, three months after my 34th birthday.

Passu Sar (“Passu Dome”, “Passu I”, West Summit, 7478m, 24528ft) is a mountain peak in the Batura Muztagh, a sub-range of the Karakoram mountain range, located in the Gilgit District of the Northern Areas of Pakistan, west of the Hunza Valley. It is the highest point of the Passu massif, which also includes Passu Diar (“Passu East”, “Pasu II”, “Peak 55”, East Summit, 7295m, 24933ft). The peak lies on the main ridge of the Batura Muztagh, about 7 km (4 mi) east of Batura-I (“Batura Sar”, 7885m) surrounded by Shisper (7619m), Balter peak (7400m) and Kampir Deyor peak (7611m).

It’s located about 100km beyond the China border and 150km from Gilgit, between Batura glacier (the 6th longest glacier of the world) Passu glacier, Ghulkin glacier, and Kamaris glacier.

According to Wikipedia my goal has only been accomplished once…

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2011, a year packed with adventures!

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2011 it’s been an amazing year, packed with adventures and many dreams becoming true. Ready for an exciting year 2012!

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