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One Last Chance for Dave Morton and Adam Knoff to Summit K2 (Part 10)
Posted on December 29, 2010

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’re into the home stretch here this season. It is the evening of August 12, and base camp is starting to feel a bit bare. Our camp sits at the lowest elevation of the remaining four camps here on the Godwin Austen Glacier. The summit window seems to be closing quickly.

The skies were surprisingly clear as we awoke today. Last night, K2’s summit revealed itself for the first time in perhaps 10 days. A group of trekkers were camped next to us for the night and were treated to their first clear night of the trek. Big smiles all around. As I wait for our dinner to be served, I can still see the very top of K2 despite the clouds covering the majority of the mountain.

As of now there are two climbers from Kazakhstan still hoping to summit along with one Austrian on the Abruzzi Spur. All three of those climbers are in their respective Camp III’s tonight. There are a few Polish climbers still above base camp, but they are returning tomorrow. Adam and I are the fourth and fifth climbers still hoping for a summit chance this season. Ours will have to begin early tomorrow morning the 13th if we have any chance of success. We must pack up our base camp on the 17th and depart the 18th in order to make our flights home. That gives us time for one fast-and-furious attempt. After receiving one last weather report tonight and talking via radio to the Kazakhs at Camp III, we will make the final call. One night at Camp III, one night at Camp IV, and then shoot for the top arriving mid-day the 15th. It is a bit ambitious, but it’s the last option.

So far, the weather reports have not been stellar. We are hearing mixed reports, though none are calling for a clear window. The lowest winds of any forecast call for 45 km/h. That is right on the border of doable for 8,611 meters without oxygen. The upper mountain around 8,400 meters is reportedly in quite icy and difficult condition this year, so we would need a clear and relatively calm day. The lower mountain is also in bad condition. It all adds up to needing a forecast that gives us hope for nice weather on the 15th in order to depart base camp and accept the objective danger that the lower route is currently presenting.

We’ll be crossing our fingers throughout dinner tonight for the stars to align, and an opportunity to see the beautiful upper regions of K2.

Author: - Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
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