Last summer, Dave Morton set out with Adam Knoff to reach the summit of Pakistan’s K2 unsupported and without oxygen, using one of the peak’s most difficult routes. During the 40-day expedition, both climbers were put to the test on one of the world’s most dangerous mountains. Dave chronicled the entire trip in a series of posts and photos for First Ascent.
By Dave Morton
We awoke to spectacularly clear skies this morning. The 7,000+ meter peak of Chogolisa stood like a sentinel past the confluence of glaciers called Concordia. The sun alighted its long corniced ridge before eventually warming our tents here at base camp. It’s the 2nd of August and we’ve endured over a week of extremely wet conditions. There has been a large amount of rain here at the 16,500-foot base camp, and in turn a large amount of snow up high on the mountain. Winds have been high, which strips the mountain of new snow typically from west to east. The combination of the conditions over the past week has resulted in a holding pattern for everyone here at base camp.
But yesterday afternoon there were signs of life. With new forecasts indicating that the winds would drop today and continue to do so over the next five days came some buzz and activity. There are approximately 20 climbers left on K2 this season still hoping to summit. We all came together yesterday afternoon to look at the forecasts and coordinate some sort of plan for those trying to take advantage of this upcoming window. The result is that there will be a crew of 15 headed out of base camp tomorrow morning, the 3rd. They hope to make it to the top on August 6th.
Among them is Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, a professional climber from Austria who is hoping to become the first woman to summit each of the 14 8,000-meter peaks in the world without the use of supplemental oxygen. Earlier this year, another woman completed all 8,000-meter peaks, though she had used oxygen on a handful of those summits. Gerlinde is a great high-altitude climber, but more importantly an extremely kind and thoughtful person. She is always a joy to be on the mountain with. We’re wishing her the best.
I am still spending a good deal of time sitting, reading and resting my knee after the mishap up high last time around. Adam left early yesterday morning for another trip up to Camp III and a night spent in Camp II. He’ll return to base camp later this morning. Our plan is then to ascend again to Camp III for three nights starting August 4th. I’m hoping that will give my knee adequate time to recuperate enough so that I don’t re-injure it. Assuming that trip goes well, we will then be in a position to wait for a summit weather window. I have been on enough 8,000-meter peaks to know that there are no assumptions. We will see. As our cook says, “Inshallah you will go.”
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