• Such action is being taken to reduce the number of queues like this one. Ralf Dujmovits, the mountaineer who took the photograph, said: “My deep hope was that the number of climbers on Everest would be reduced. But I fear that I’ve made Everest more popular with this picture.”
• And if you fancy yourself a pro, pay a reduced rate of £1,500 for an off-season pass.
• In 2013, there was a hundred person brawl at 23,000 feet during which three European mountaineers were told by a group of around 100 sherpas: “Now we kill you.” It is reported that the sherpas were disrespected by their wealthy clients.
In July 2016, I embarked on an incredibly memorable, yet challenging, 11-day trek to the base camp of K2 — the highest mountain in Pakistan — with three other Dutch hikers in tow.
Our trip started from Islamabad where we stayed for a day. The next morning, we took a short, but a very scenic, flight to Skardu. We acquired a great deal of interesting information about our destination from the plane’s captain, which naturally got us pumped for the journey ahead.
Following a brief stay in Skardu, we left for the town of Askole, which is only 115km away but the rocky roads, not to mention the landslides and floods that we encountered on our way stretched our journey an additional five hours.
The picturesque drive through hanging wooden bridges, however, made it worth it.
Arriving in Askole, we stopped for some garam parathas, and washed them down with wonderful milky tea before starting our first trek to the Jhula campsite.
We walked through a small lane in the town of Askole that widened as we exited the village. Then, we entered Shigar Valley, where I saw jagged mountain peaks and views that quite literally took my breath away.
Situated at a distance of 18kms from Askole, we reached Jhula just before sunset. We parked our camp next to the river, which afforded us an ethereal view of the Barkhudas mountain peak.
The next morning, we trekked from Jhula to Payu campsite, which is 22kms away, at 200 metres of elevation gain; the route that we took was close to the river bank with many uninhabited houses.
From Payu, we made our way to the Baltoro glacier, the focal point of our trek. The journey to our next campsite Khoburshe was 15km away, with 500 metres elevation gain.
The long distance and the formidable gain of elevation, coupled with our first, tentative steps on a glacier, was taxing but also proved rewarding as we got a glimpse of the spectacular Trango and Lobsang mountain spires as well as the starting point of the serene Baltoro River from here.
Near the Khoburshe campsite, a lake has sprung up due to a glacier melt, which required us to take a detour, adding about another two kilometres to the trek; we retired at the camp for the night.
The next morning, we trekked from Khoburshe to Urdukas, which is situated at a relatively short distance of 6km, with 200m of elevation gain.
The journey was, by far, the most wonderful part of the trek as we crossed two glaciers and glacial streams to reach Urdukas, surrounded by tall imposing mountains. It is a wonderful campsite that sits atop huge rocks.
As we set up our tents and settled into them, we heard the sound of music. Venturing outside, we saw porters from different teams who had gathered around a big boulder and were dancing and celebrating as it was Eid!
Close to Urdukas, there is a Pakistan Army checkpost and some military men also joined in the heartfelt celebrations.
Our next stop was the Goro II. It was another long trek of 15kms, with 270 metres of elevation gain. We were ecstatic when we saw our first views of the incredible Masherbrum (7821m) and Gasherbrum-4 (7925m) mountains.
Traversing along the route, we saw large protruding chunks of snow, known as snow capsules. These capsules vary in size and are sparsely found along the trek.
Our campsite at Goro II was the coldest on the trek. When I woke up in the middle of the night, my tent was covered in frost.
The morning that greeted me was equally cold, if not more. But the day was special. Crossing Gora II, we finally saw the magnificent K2 mountain, and other stunning peaks such as Muztagh Tower (7273 metres) and Mitre Peak (6010m).
Our next camp on Concordia glacier was next to Mitre Peak. With that as our reference, we walked about 12kms to reach Concordia.
Near Concordia, we had to negotiate many complicated crevasses. We also heard loud songs of the glacier cracking up.
After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived at our camp on Concordia. Situated at 4,600 metres of elevation, the high altitude made us easily breathless, even if the movement was something as small as getting up.
Most expeditions end on Concordia after which trekkers head back to Askole. One can also take an alternative route by hiking to Ali Camp and then crossing the Gondogoro Pass to enter Hushe Valley and return from there. It, however, requires expert technical climbing skills.
In our case, we decided to visit the K2 base camp, which is approximately 11kms away from Concordia, save for one team member who ended up going to the Gilkey Memorial.
The three of us, including myself, stayed back at the K2 base camp for about an hour, and had lunch with an international expedition team before returning to Concordia.
The return journey from Concordia to Askole was 90kms and took us three whole days to return to Askole from where we returned to Skardu the same evening; thus ending our intense, adrenaline-filled trek, one we are bound to remember for the rest of our lives.
Imad Brohi is an engineer by profession, who loves the outdoors.
The summer mountain climbing season is in full swing. Although it tends to be seen as safer than winter mountaineering, the number of people involved in accidents in the summer has been increasing, especially in the past few years.
It’s important to enjoy nature in the summer after preparing sufficient clothing and supplies in your backpack, as well as determining which mountain to climb based on your stamina and experience.
According to the National Police Agency, there were 647 mountain rescues in July and August 2015, the highest number since data was first collected in 1968. Compared to the summer of 2011, the number of rescues has increased by about 30 percent.
One reason is an increase in the number of climbers. In addition to the boom in mountaineering among middle-aged and senior climbers in the past decade, mountaineering has become an accessible leisure activity even for young people, including “yama girls,” literally meaning “mountain girls” and referring to young women climbers.
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“Getting stranded and suffering from injuries due to falls is common among middle-aged and senior climbers,” said Shizuoka University Prof. Shin Murakoshi, who specializes in cognitive psychology and is familiar with mountaineering and hiking crisis management.
“In contrast, there are few cases of falling among climbers in their 20s to 40s, who have been increasing in number in the past several years,” Murakoshi added. “However, many of them get lost because they don’t carry a map or compass, or don’t know the proper way to use them.”
Along with insufficient preparation, another major cause of mountaineering accidents is overestimating one’s ability. For example, some people carelessly try to take on 2,500-meter-high mountains, despite having insufficient experience in mountaineering, because they think it will be easy in summer.
“There are a lot of rocks on high mountains, making it difficult to walk, and such conditions can easily lead to serious injuries, like bone fractures, when falling,” Murakoshi said.
“Mountain grading,” which classifies mountains in terms of two standards — 10 levels of physical requirement and five levels of technical difficulty — helps people determine which mountains suit them.
Five prefectures — Yamanashi, Shizuoka, Nagano, Niigata, and Gifu — offer similar grading, and the information is carried on their prefectural websites and distributed in booklet form.
Of those prefectures, Yamanashi Prefecture recommends the 634-meter Mt. Iwadono and 1,731-meter Mt. Amari as most suitable for beginners. There is almost no worry of sliding down the mountain even if you fall.
A staff member of the prefectural Tourist Sites and Facilities Division recommends that you “select a reasonable mountain with consideration for your stamina and experience.”
You should thoroughly prepare appropriate clothing and supplies even when climbing a mountain for beginners.
The Okutama Visitor Center — which organizes events like nature walking tours in Tokyo’s Okutama area — emphasizes being particularly aware during summer mountaineering of sudden weather changes, like evening showers, as well as heatstroke. It also urges people to make sure to bring rain gear and water.
Bring batteries along with a mobile phone or smartphone in your backpack. Lately, mobile phone reception has been expanding even in the mountains. If your device is connected, you will be able to request a rescue in an emergency and share your location with a rescuer using the global positioning system.
Registering one’s entry to a mountain and a climbing plan can provide valuable help for search efforts if a climber gets stranded. Write down the estimated time you will pass major landmarks, your home telephone number and an emergency contact number, and drop it off in the mailbox at the trail head. Such documents can also be submitted to places like police boxes at the foot of a mountain.
Nonetheless, climbing down on your own is an absolutely basic skill of mountaineering. Murakoshi advises, “Carefully make plans by receiving advice from experienced climbers and safely enjoy hiking in the mountains.
Soon to be a film subject, Fred Beckey is a cult figure in North American mountaineering.
SEATTLE — He’s notched more first ascents than any other American mountaineer, wrote the definitive guidebooks to a major North American mountain range, and at age 93, Fred Beckey is still plotting routes – though more slowly and buoyed by a cadre of fiercely protective partners.
For years, stories have floated around about the man known as much for his eccentric personality as for his singular obsession with climbing, said Alex Bertulis, 77, a retired Seattle architect who climbed with Beckey for decades.
Fred Beckey, 93, has completed more first ascents than any other American mountaineer, and will be featured in “Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey,” a documentary feature film.
A poster for “Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey” is displayed in Seattle. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Some were true, some not. “But that’s OK. That’s how legends are built,” Bertulis said.
Now, a documentary feature film in the works, “Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey,” is putting the spotlight on a man who has shied from such attention during decades of exploits. It is expected out next year.
Beckey is such a cult figure in North American mountaineering that tickets were snatched up within hours for a slideshow he recently presented in Seattle to help promote the film.
His body slightly stooped, blue dress shirt hanging loose off his frame, the nonagenarian needed help settling into his chair. Once lights were dimmed, he clicked through numerous slides, recalling from memory details about rock cracks, overhangs and other features on mountains in the Sierra and Cascades.
Beckey was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States as a child. His family settled in Seattle, where he got his first taste of hiking and scrambling with the Boy Scouts and later The Mountaineers club.
In 1942, he and his younger brother Helmut wowed the climbing community with an impressive second ascent of Mount Waddington in British Columbia.
He went on to accomplish hundreds of first ascents on peaks throughout the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Canada and Wyoming. In 1954, he established new routes on three of Alaska’s mountains: McKinley, Deborah and Hunter. He also climbed in the Himalayas and China.
Beckey once wrote that climbing gave him a unique sense of control over his destiny. “The exaltation one can get in the presence of mountains can be a memorable lesson in humility and an aid to self-realization,” he wrote.
There will never be another Beckey because there are no more unclimbed mountains left to that degree, Bertulis said.
“Fred got the golden age of climbing first ascents,” Bertulis said. “That will be his legacy.”
Beckey has authored more than a dozen books, including the three-volume “Cascade Alpine Guide” that details hundreds of peaks in the North Cascades. He also penned books about climbing Mount McKinley and Mount Rainier.
At the recent Beckey event, fans from young climbers to ex-girlfriends – even the adult daughter of an ex-girlfriend who flew in from California to put a face to her mother’s stories – lined up to shake his hand or snag a reluctant autograph.
“It’s such an honor and privilege to still be able to meet him,” gushed Leslie Otto, 29, who fired off names of routes she climbed that Becky pioneered.
Beckey still keeps a list of potential climbing partners. In the past, he scribbled their names on the back of business cards and as he wrapped up one climb or expedition, he would drum up partners for the next, Bertulis said.
“People joked around that he had a black book of names of mountains that had to be climbed and also the names of women that had to be seduced,” Bertulis said. “The little black book doesn’t exist. It falls into the category of made-up stories that are very entertaining.”
Vasiliki Dwyer, described by Beckey friends as his “one who got away,” got to know a different side of the climber.
“Fred has many aspects in his character. He read a lot. He knew about all kinds of esoteric things,” she said. He once gave her a copy of John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost” and later named a North Cascades ridge after her. Last month, he gave her his card and told her to call.
To climbing partners, Beckey was known for being obstinate, abrasive, not always the easiest to get along with. He has climbed with numerous partners, falling out with a few or outlasting those for whom climbing wasn’t a nonstop, all-encompassing interest.
“He’s the most single-minded, focused person I’ve ever met,” said Eric Fox, 41, who has climbed all over the West with Beckey and dines with him weekly. “His passion is contagious. He loves the mountains, the exploration, finding new peaks and new routes. That’s really inspiring for me.”
The two climbed recently together in central Washington – Beckey needing help getting to the base but still able to climb.
“Once he starts climbing, it’s like muscle memory just kicks in, and he’s very graceful,” said Dave O’Leske, director of “Dirtbag.” “A lot of things have to click. The day has to be good, the back can’t hurt, but any chance he gets.”
Beckey is already mapping his next trip – to Suquamish, British Columbia.
“There’s a cult of Fred,” said Matt Perkins, who has climbed with Beckey for 20 years. He added: “I think his exit plan is to die in a sleeping bag on an expedition somewhere.”
ISLAMABAD: A dozen young men and women stand before a rock face on the outskirts of Islamabad, challenging and cheering each other on as they take turns scrambling up the limestone in front of curious onlookers.
Pakistan has long been a magnet for mountaineers, drawn by the grandeur of regions like Gilgit-Baltistan, where three of the world’s greatest mountain ranges — the Karakoram, the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas — collide.
Highlights include the savage K2, the world’s second highest peak at 8,611 metres but often deemed a more challenging climb than the highest, Mount Everest.
But despite the tales of glory from professionals, usually from the mountainous north, the sport of climbing has never been particularly popular in the rest of the country. Until now.
Climbing enthusiasts such as Nazir Ahmed, who runs the Eco Adventure Club in Islamabad, which organised the day at the climbing wall for its young members, says there is growing interest in rock and mountain climbing.
“People are attracted to climbing because they are active on social media, they see it on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and get impressed, it’s a good sign,” Ahmed, from the magnificent Hunza valley in Gilgit-Baltistan, says.
He says his club now has 500 members who gather every weekend in the Margallas, the foothills of the Himalayas, which run along the edge of Islamabad — up from 20 when they started four years ago.
Wearing T-shirts and tracksuit bottoms — some are even bare foot — the climbers opt for routes based on their skill level, while their instructor handles the rope and offers guidance.
Most are themselves from Gilgit-Baltistan, a vanguard of dedicated adherents on a mission to spread their love of mountain climbing among the people of the lowlands.
And it seems to be working. Many locals start by taking it up as a hobby, before channelling their energies into organised competition.
Adnan Ali Shah, a sociology student at the Quaid-e-Azam University who won a sports scholarship told AFP: “I represented my university twice in inter-university climbing championships and won gold and silver medals.”
Climbing will for the first time be included as an Olympic sport in Tokyo in 2020, potentially giving Pakistan — which sent a team of only seven people to the current Games in Rio — a tantalising new medal route.
Jamshed Khan, a tall 29-year-old with a piercing green gaze, helped to found the first club in Islamabad with funding from a German NGO in 2007.
A tourist wearing a T-shirt featuring image of K2, world’s second largest peak, admires the scenery during a trip around Skardu in northern Pakistan PHOTO: AFP
Its walls stretch 40 feet high with various difficulty levels. The more testing gradients slope backwards, forcing a climber to fight hard not to slip.
In addition to the wall, he and the group “discovered rock (faces) and established routes in the Margallas,” he said.
Not every city is blessed with natural hill and rock faces that allow for climbing, so in 2013 Khan set up a new club and wall in a Lahore park.
He said most of the people coming to the park in Lahore were children aged between six to fourteen. “When we started holding competitions there were hardly 10-12 people but now hundreds participate.”
Around 20 similar clubs have since appeared up and down the country. Unlike many other sports, climbing is not divided by gender, allowing women to scale new heights in a country where they have not traditionally been given the same levels of opportunities.
For some, their inspiration comes from Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to scale Mount Everest. “When a girl from a far-flung area like Gilgit becomes the first Pakistani to scale Mount Everest that’s a big deal,” said Sania Aziz, a student of clinical psychology who hopes to follow in Baig’s footsteps.
While rock climbing makes headway throughout the country, more Pakistanis are taking up mountaineering — a far broader challenge that can include ice climbing, navigation and survival skills — as a profession too.
Locals from northern regions have long taken jobs as low paid high altitude porters, who make it possible for celebrated foreign climbers to scale peaks and win glory but remain relatively anonymous themselves.
Now the Alpine Club of Pakistan is organising joint ventures with foreign expeditions where local members also participate.
In these joint expeditions, the foreign climbers are charged only 50 per cent of the regular fee but are asked to arrange logistics, such as travel and supplies, for local members in return.
“The aim behind these expeditions is to encourage local climbers and reduce the cost for them,” Manzoor Hussain, president of Alpine Club of Pakistan told AFP.
The initiative may even give Pakistani climbers the chance to go international, he said, such as to attend one of around 30 mountaineering events around the world.
“With this new approach we will be able to send our climbing teams abroad to participate in competitions,” he said, citing places like Europe — though after the peaks of Pakistan, even the Alps may seem like a mere uphill climb.
KATHMANDU: The world’s second highest mountain, Mt K2 in Pakistan, is going to draw a blank this summer season after a massive avalanche swept away the Camp III on Saturday morning forcing all mountaineers to quit their attempts.
According to Mingma Sherpa, Managing Director at Seven Summits Trek, all climbers including more than 25 climbing Sherpas gave up their bids to climb the 8,611-metre peak after the avalanche struck the Camp III sweeping all climbing equipment this morning.
“All climbers and climbing Sherpas are safe as they had already returned to lower camps due to the bad weather,” Sherpa quoted his clients as saying over phone from the mountain.
According to Sherpa, there were more 100 climbers including as many as 25 Nepali Sherpas heading to the world’s second highest peak this season. All members and climbing Sherpas were safe, he said.
“K2 United can confirm an avalanche wiped out all the tents at camp II but all teams are ok,” the K2 United Expedition posted on its Facebook Page.
Most of the teams had left the base camp on July 10 for higher camps, but the bad weather forced them to retreat afterwards.
“The avalanche struck the Camp III as climbers were waiting for next summit window (expectedly July 24),” Sherpa said, adding that the climbers had already given up two summit pushes after July 10 due to bad weather conditions.
Jamling Bhote (52) and Mingma Dorchi (44), who had already scaled the world’s most difficult mountain twice, also attempted to climb the Mt K2 thrice for a world record this season.
Among other climbers, Ruben Payan of the Powerful Human Expedition and Vanessa O’Brien, who aims to become the first American-British woman to ascend the killer mountain, had also reached the Northern Pakistan for the climbing attempt this season. Vanessa was a part of the K2 United Expedition.
It is considered that Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli became the first climbers to stand atop the summit July 31, 1954.
Mountaineer Alan Arnette, who is also the oldest American to successfully climb the Mt K2 at the age of 58 in 2014, posted on his widely-read webpage that only 355 people have summited the world’s second highest peak till date.
“The K2 is the most challenging of all the Karakoram 8000ers and it is significantly more difficult and dangerous than the Mt Everest,” the Colorado-based climber posted.
Strong wind forced the new route/variant climbers, Yannick Graziani, Ferran Latorre and Hélias Millerioux, to turn back just below North Summit of Nanga Parbat, today. “We will try (again),” says Ferran Latorre. Meanwhile, on normal route struggle continues to overcome Kinshofer Wall and establish C2 (6100m).
North Face Summit Attempt
Yannick Graziani, Ferran Latorre and Hélias Millerioux launched the final summit push from C4 (7400m) this morning but despite a forecast of gentle conditions, they encountered very strong wind on ascent. The three climbers, thus, retreated from around 7800m on upper reaches of Czechoslovakian 1978 route and are back in C4 on North Face. The expedition isn’t over yet, as climbers are eager to reattempt. Since, weather is predicted to remain favorable for next two days and climbers haven’t descended to lower camps, it’s probable (not confirmed yet, though) that they may go for summit again, tomorrow. (Update: Climbers are already below C1, on the way to Base Camp.)
Ferran Latorre’s tracker shows team’s route of ascent. Source
After reaching 7000m once and spending more night in lower C2 (at 6500m) for acclimatization, Yannick, Ferran and Hélias launched summit push from Base Camp on July 7th. After spending first night in C1 (5800m), the team moved Camp 2 to 6700m (a couple of hundred meters higher than previous location) on July 8th. Given the strong wind above 8000m and projected summit days, the climbers initially planned to spend a day resting in C2. But July 9th dawned as a perfect day and they grabbed the opportunity to advance to next camp at 7000m.
It snowed for multiple hours on July 10th and the trio faced deep snow during their rise from C3 to C4 (7400m). The team estimated that it will take them approximately 10-12hrs to reach the top from C4. However, bad weather foiled the first summit attempt at 7800m.
“Back at the base camp. Wandering thoughts. We were so close to the top this morning on this virgin route. We were missing only 300 meters …. 300 … but damn 300 meters in the storm. What can we do?” Yannick Graziani is rightly disappointed, as the trio reached BC this evening. The French alpinist says that there will not be a second attempt on new route, this season.
Ferran Latorre and Hélias Millerioux will try to reach the summit via normal route, though. Note that, if successful it will be 13th eight-thousander for Ferran.
Unlike good conditions on North Face, the Kinshofer route climbers are facing challenges to reach C2 (6100m). The gully leading to Kinshofer wall is full of hard ice, and all teams apparently rely on resources (ropes etc) of Migon Kim’s Korean-Chinese expedition and Kim Hong-bin’s Korean team to fix this section. These teams arrived late and were less acclimatized to reach C2. The other climbers, hence, either slept in C1 only or acclimatized on Ganalo Peak.
Nonetheless, the teams started C1 – C2 rope-fixing couple of days ago, and should reach the latter camp soon. The tracker of Spanish climber Pepe Saldaña and Fernando Fernández Vivancos shows that the duo went up from C1 today and reached the bottom of Kinshofer Wall before turning back. No recent information is available about Bulgarian-Hungarian team of Boyan Petrov, Ivan Tomov and Csaba Varga.