, , ,

Rafał Fronia’s account from the base camp:

“In the base camp of Winter Expedition of Polish Mountaineering Association to Broad Peak the next phase has begun. At the moment nothing separates us from the summit. Only weather. Only?

We have just came back from camp 3 situated at 7,200 m above sea level. Break in weather, strong, blowing with the speed of almost 100 km/h wind hindered our summit attempt..

Hope Freezes Last, nothing new. Both the mountain and the route leading to it have kicked our asses, we have lost tents from the established camps and equipment, our friends have retreated, just 7 of the participants are left in the base camp, but hope freezes last – and we do hope that soon a Polish flag will wave in winter on an eight-thousander in Karakorum. Everything is prepared.

The received weather forecasts are inevitable and unambiguous: minimum 7 days in the base camp, with windstorm reaching ca. 100 km/h it’s not possible to reach the summit. So, what are we doing?

Today we have reorganized the mess. New ice-stone floor has been covered with foam, thanks to it we may have higher temperature (we look at diminishing gas cylinders and oil canisters used for heating with horror), we have counted up reserves: barrels full of frozen tins, cabbage, meat, lyophilisates, all has to be segregated, so that we won’t run out of it (eggs are already rationed – we eat them every second day).

Artur Hajzer writes a new book about the Seven Summits and reads it to us asking for opinions and remarks. None of us haven’t thought that each of these mountains has such a reach history, a history of people, countries and events; everyone who loves Mountains should read it.

We are waiting, the doctor fills our spare time with endurance tests, we use up the cards and polish the chessboard, e-mails with information concerning the weather are still the same – we stare at the mountain and look for our weather window – our chance to succeed. And all we see is snow, waving flag and ice dust, created by stormwind, veiling the summit.

Because there are no conditions to climb high – we climb low. In the vicinity of the base camp, there is a huge ice field of towers, on which we train. We sharpen crampons and ice-axes, due to the fact that ice in winter in Karakorum is as hard and as brittle as glass. Climbing here is not the same as Kurtyka’s Icefall (Lodospad Kurtyki) in the Tatra Mountains – here, an ice-axe doesn’t drive in but shatters the ice, and crampons chip off large ice floes, which fall down on our partners.

We are also waiting for the delivery, three porters have set off towards the base camp from Ascole. It seems to be a trivial matter, but whether they reach us or not is a great unknown – they have to deal with 100 km of glacier, cracks covered with snow and ice labyrinths; they are carrying a new power generator, which is to replace our failing Honda (apparently, they also have a bottle of Coke).