When the wind blows – account dated February 3, 2011

February 3, 2011 – according to the forecasts of out “weather angel,” Karl Gabl, and our meteorologist, Piotr Pietrzak, it was very windy last night. Hurricane wind reaching the speed of 120 km/h blew away the attacking Robert & Krzysiu back to the base camp. Weather forecast is unambiguous – break in the weather for 4-5 days. Consequently, our plans have changed. The date of establishing C3 is postponed. In the near future, two people will set off from the Base Camp to dig out the rigged ropes. If we lose the ropes under snow and ice, our situation won’t be comfortable.

From the windy base camp at the foot of Broad Peak
Rafał Fronia


Account dated February 2, 2011

Artur reports:

“What happens in the Base Camp when the “Caterpillar” sleeps…
Well, how does a day in the Base Camp look like?
Firstly, we wake up, not too early, after 8 a.m. Moist face, if someone sleeps in a kerchief covering a nose, then it is wet. The only achievement of our breath is hoarfrost. Around our necks there are silver collars of snow that settled on our sleeping bags. We get up. Getting dressed is a world record of speed – within a couple of seconds we wear down and fleece clothes, caps and gloves. The only thing left is to take out from the depths of our sleeping bags a bottle (let’s call it a toilet bottle) and other heating bottles – the liquids have to be poured out as otherwise the bottles will freeze and break -, and we go to the mess. Mosin awaits us with water for washing and fills up a container every now and then – otherwise we get ice for drinks within 15 minutes. And we are already in the mess. It’s warm, the heater is on since a couple of hours, temperature reaches +5 degrees Celsius.
Breakfast – chapati and eggs appear. But these are not ordinary eggs. These are eggs á la al-Qaida. Grenade-eggs that exploded while being cooked – in the morning they were still icy balls which after putting into boiling water simply exploded. Well, we are used to that.
After breakfast – toothbrushing. If someone hasn’t thought about that right after waking up, it will come to nothing. Toothpaste won’t come out, no matter how hard you try – boiling water is needed.
Time for communication, we write e-mails (but wait, firstly, you have to put a laptop under the jacket or over a heater, otherwise it won’t boot) and then a trip – we go to the post office. There is a Goldwin Austen post office situated one kilometer away from the Base Camp – there is coverage, a tent, a foam pad and a burner with a gas cylinder. Upon arrival, the tent must be heated, otherwise Began will freeze before the mails are sent. After 2-3 hours postmen return – we can read about the events in Poland and around the world.
Stinkpots need to wash themselves – a bath. What a lark! A couple of hours prior to the bath, water in a bathing tent is heated. A stinkpot enters, steps onto a foam pad, because there is ice on the ground, takes some water and in clouds of steam pours water on his body. Time is important. If one has a liquid soap and hasn’t thought about it earlier – that’s it. Finally, towelling down. But be careful, the foam pad slides on ice. As not to waste water, one may also wash some pieces of clothing. Washed socks hung anywhere freeze immediately and the drying process lasts for days.
Lunch – after an eggy breakfast – right after midday – lunch. Either goat or yak meat or both, rice or pasta. Ketchup, mustard and mayo are frozen. There was a great custom of placing a heater under the table, but once a the table almost burnt down and the heater broke dow. So, now we have to remember earlier about adding some ketchup to our meat.
Entertainment – here the doctor is responsible for it. He has a sporttester and a special notebook for every participant and makes us do tests. There is a step in the Base Camp onto which we have to climb at a determined rate, while He takes our pulses and estimates how we are doing. He also has scales, which doesn’t like the cold but when it’s warm enough we have to undress so that the doctor can check the contents of our bodies – water, fat etc.
At 3:35 p.m. the Sun sets and instead of -15 degrees Celsius there is -25 degrees Celsius. Then everyone goes to the mess. Here – chess, books, dinner and one of 300 films that Jarek took, one per day. But first, a “power plant.” We have got a Honda which has to be started, so we pull the string to bring it to life, but oil in the engine is like ketchup – almost frozen. The struggle continues and finally we have electricity.
Evening – we go to our sleeping bags at different times, but usually at ca. 10 p.m. It’s important to do it quickly. Mosin brings our bottles filled with hot water which are put inside the sleeping bags. It’s crucial not to touch a sleeping bag with hands without gloves – one may get frostbite. Only after we get inside, it’s possible to relax as the sleeping bags are heated with our bodies. Then, we cover our noses with kerchiefs – otherwise we would have icicles resembling stalactites on our moustaches – and sleep. Toilet bottles are at hand – pee is almost sure. It’s not that easy to do it while lying in two tight sleeping bags.
But as we all know, caterpillar is a gluttonous beast – so we set off:

February 2 – Robert and Krzysiek get to camp I, on February 3 to camp II and on February 4 they establish camp III at 7,200 m
February 4 – Rafał and Jarek set off to camp II and next day to camp III
February 4 – Artur, Piotr and Marcin set off to camp I, then to camp II and III.
Upon arrival of all of us in the Base Camp – next account.

The team would like to congratule Denis, Simon and Core for reaching the summit of Gasherbrum II !!!”

Account dated February 1, 2011

Today, i.e. February 1, hasn’t been an easy day for the expedition. Two of our friends left the base camp. Now, there are 7 of us. Still quite some, but we feel the difference. The mess isn’t as crowded as before – it’s more private now. We are glad that Arek is safe and that he is accompanied by Rober Kaźmierski – and we already know that we are going to miss them in further stages of the expedition.

In the meantime we go back to our business. Today Robert Szymczak and Krzysiek Starek have packed and got ready to go uphill. They checked the tent and prepared the equipment. Their aim is to establish camp III. Yes. Today the ropes to camp III were rigged. It was done by Pakistani who support us. Ali and Raza rigged the ropes to 6,600 m and finished their work. On January 30 Hajzer and Kaczkan continued and reached the place for camp III – 7,150 m.

In the following days, after Robert and Krzysiek, next teams set off towards c III. We are also planning to reconnoitre the area above camp III and mark further route, leading through a snow plateau beneath the summit, with routers and directional ropes. On February 7, all of us should be in the base camp – acclimatized enough to attempt the summit.

We know that tonight Denis Urubko and Simone Moro will attempt the summit of Gasherbrum II (we don’t know if Cory, the Canadian, is in the team). We keep our fingers crossed. They deserve to reach the summit. It’s the best team in the world. They have been climbing for over a month – we believe that they will be successful now.

Artur Hajzer