February 8 – on Tuesday – we went uphill, aiming to spend a night in camp 3. It was supposed to be our final acclimatization before the summit attempt.
Still on February 8 there was hell in the base camp – hardly anyone believed that it was going to change over night, but the weather forecast said that on the 9th there was to be a clear blue sky and no wind – unbelievable – but it proved true.
In the beautiful morning Artur Hajzer, Marcin Kaczkan, Krzysztof Starek and Robert Szymczak set off towards camp I and reached it in the afternoon without any problems.
On Wednesday 9, there was supposed to be a one day storm with wind reaching even 125 km/h. We assumed that on our way to camp II, in three-quarters of the way, surrounded with crags, at a moderate altitude of 6,000 m, we would cope with it.
Not until we were 200 m before camp II, did the stormy conditions ill-treat us. Low temperature ca. -28 degrees Celsius and strong wind – approx. 70 km/h put our climbing suits to the serious test (wind chill -45 degrees Celsius).
AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE AWAITED US IN CAMP II. THE CAMP ITSELF CEASED TO EXIST. The last six days of bad weather left our camp in tatters. We knew that the hurricane wind could break masts in our tent, tear the tent up, but we assumed that everything that was inside would survive. The situation turned out to be different. To the rigged rope only a scrap of what was left of our camp was attached. Nothing that would even resemble a former tent. There was no floor, entrances, nothing. The lost things include:
– HiM Arctic Basic sleeping bags – 3 items ——————- 3,000 PLN
– POISK oxygen tank – 1 items —————————– 1,500 PLN
– oxygen tank pressure reducer – 1 items ——————- 1,200 PLN
– HiM Yeti Residence tent – 1 items —————- ——– 1,200 PLN
– foam pads – 3 items ————————————– 200 PLN
– Jet Boil cooker – 1 items ———————————- 300 PLN
– Markill stove – 1 items ———————————— 200 PLN
– watches: Suunto and Garmin – 2 items ———————1,500 PLN
– personal deposits – set ————————————1,000 PLN
– food and gas – set —————————————– 300 PLN
TOTAL ………………………..9 400 PLN * (the estimated value may differ from the one presented in official report made for Polish Mountaineering Associaiton’s accounts department)
[the wind, that destroyed camp II, must have been blowing with at least 200 km/h]
We carried with us a germ of camp III, so we knew that we would survive that night in non-existing camp II. We had a tent and assault sleeping bags. We were wearing climbing suits. In the ruins of c2 we found some gas. We had one foam pad – for four of us – IT WASN’T BAD.
We repaired the platform and started to put up a tent. The strength of wind increased up to 80 km/h.
[On that day the team including R.Fronia, J.Gawrysiak, P.Snopczyński went from the base camp to camp I.]
We had a big “tourist” 4-person Denali Pro tent and not an assault fast-to-put-up Yetis Residence. The putting up of the tent in that conditions required extra logistics – a special counsel. Right after getting out the inner tent, Marcin Kaczkan jumped inside and lay down on it, spread like an octopus, so that the tent wouldn’t fly away into the abyss. After a couple of minutes, all of us were inside – slightly cold and scared. We lent against the wind. After ca. 1 hour we decided to do something, to tidy ourselves up. It was ca. 5 p.m. We melted the remaining ice – no one wanted to get some new. We called our weather guardian Karl Gabl, just in case
He told us that unfortunately the strength of wind was going to increase at night and that the weather forecast was changing – already on February 11, on Friday (and not on Saturday) another break in weather would start – IT WOULD START – because what we experienced was not a break but a STANDARD.
[Similarly, in c1 the second team struggled with the strong wind.]
Approximately at 10 p.m. K.Starek went voluntarily outside to get some more ice and at 7 a.m. M.Kaczkan to find more gas.
In the morning we made difficult decisions – what next? R.Szymczak, A.Hajzer, K.Starek decided to go uphill to reach the highest possible altitude. After the bivouac there was no chance of establishing camp III. M.Kaczkan, who already before reached 6,500 m, declared to take care of camp II and work on its security – so that it wouldn’t be blown away again.
We left at 9:30 a.m.:
K.Starek reached 6,500 m, R.Szymczak 6,900 m, and A.Hajzer 6,800 m. The ascend lasted till 3 p.m. That was the time when they had to start a descend. In the late evening – approx. at 8 p.m. – A.Hajzer and R.Szymczak, as the last ones, returned to the base camp.