Unlucky attack – Broad Peak 10.03.2011
Robert Szymczak Reprots .Before the set off, there were discussions concerning the composition of teams and the date of set off. An initial weather window changed, as usually in winter in Karakorum, into a window vent. Originally Wednesday and Thursday were supposed to be good, and finally the only time left was Wednesday (March 9) morning – slightly cloudy, but with wind blowing only 20 km/h. In order to attack on Wednesday from camp three, it was necessary to leave the base camp already on Monday. We chose for the attack a windless but cloudy day (Wednesday). We thought that sunny but windy (50 km/h)Thursday would provide us with an off-chance. Monday group included Artur Hajzer, Krzysztof Starek, Robert Szymczak, Ali Raza and Ali Sadparta. On Tuesday Rafał Fronia, Jarek Gawrysiak and Marcin Kaczkan, who all had less chances to succeed, left the base camp as a second attacking or supporting group. In the base camp remained Piotr Snopczyński who secured the entire attack.
March 7 (Monday) – first day of the attack was supposed to be lucky thanks to the date. We knew that it was going to be windy, but 90 km/h for 9 hours of ascent to camp II from the base camp gave it to us. Unfortunately, another tent could not resist the wind. Together with Krzyś, we survived the night in the tattered remains of the tent; Artur and the Pakistani put up with difficulty a new tent that we brought with us. For Match 8 we would like to thank all women, the weather was good, sunny, almost windless, but what happened with two assault tents in camp 3? Wind again, did we incur Ladies displeasure? Several hours prior to the summit attempt, instead of sitting in semi-comfortable conditions, we had to survive in the remains of the tent left by another expedition at least one year ago (lack of floor, snow under climbing suits) – psyche droops. Ali Raza left our team due to minor frostbite of his toes.
A picture before 11 p.m. on Tuesday – zero hour – 4 guys sitting under a rag covered with snow at 7,200 m – no space for moving, limited possibilities to cook. Temperature outside: 45 degree Celsius below zero and it‘s snowing.
climbing to C3
In the first hour of the attack, Krzysiek retreated due to persistent cough. At ca. 3 a.m. Ali went down because he was concerned about the frostbite of his toes. Two mountaineers were left for the attack. At 7,600 m at ca. 5 a.m. the attempt of Hajzer and Szymczak finished. Due to fresh snow above camp III, there was a considerable avalanche hazard – crossing snow fields and traverses was very cautious. At ca. 5 a.m., wading through calf-high snow under a serac requiring to rig the ropes, both climbers demonstrated symptoms of hypothermia and were extremely exhausted. A decision to retreat was made. Szymczak after the failed attack, was exhausted, coughed and had breathing problems, but he reached the base camp under his own steam.
Why weren’t we successful?
Firstly, the decision regarding the attack was very difficult. After almost three-week break in weather it’s hard not to use even one day, although patience pays and e.g. this week there could be several days of sunny weather – no-one knows.
Was the set off in demanding bad weather a good decision? Perhaps instead of leaving on Monday, it would be better to leave on Tuesday when the weather was good and hope that on Thursday it was going to improve – no-one knew that too – Gerfrield Goshl took the risk – tomorrow we will know if he has been lucky – it’s supposed to be sunny although the wind is to blow with 50 km/h.
Robert & Ali in C3
Did the set off at night when the temperature was over -45 degrees Celsius add to the failure of the attack? Perhaps it’s better to leave during the day and return at night? Maybe it’s better to plan establishing camp IV, so that the summit attempt from a higher altitude could last during entire day? But what with another exhausting night above 7,500 m? It has to be admitted that there was no time and strength for establishing camp IV.
We have failed (this time), but we are all save and sound in the base camp, although some of us are coughing a bit; we still have 11 days!!!
Wednesday March 9, 2011, 5 a.m. / 9 a.m. in Pakistan ,Jerzy Natkański Reports to Polish Home website.The attack of the first team planned for today, failed.
Artur Hajzer and Robert Szymczak set off at 11 p.m. yesterday and after 6 hours of struggle retreated due to cold and tiredness.
Wind, cold (-45 degrees Celsius) and bivouacs in destroyed tents, weakened strength of the team. Krzysztof Starek and Ali Sadpara went back to the base camp due to persistent cough – Starek, and frostbite – Sadpara.