Assault on K2

An allegorical tale of a trip to Murrayfield

The final planning meeting took place two days before departure in Concordia base camp. The weather was confirmed as suitable for the assault on the K2 summit, supplies were confirmed and equipment checked. We agreed that, in the conditions we were expecting, we would follow the route up the Abbruzzi spur.

The brothers retired to their tents to rest in the days before departure.

It was 10:45 am on the 6th when the party mustered. (Is it safe any longer to call ourselves a party?) There were 5 brothers and 2 Sherpas:

Brothers : Del, Pud, Radar, Ashtead and Club
Sherpas : Harry, Miss America

The Departure

To save the party waiting for him we told Godot we were leaving at 8:30 am and we caught up with him at the foot of The Baltoro glacier. We breakfasted on some bacon rolls as we walked.

At altitude it is very important to keep hydration levels high and so Radar took charge of this aspect of our wellbeing. To keep spirits high we did some community singing.

It was plain sailing until we came across other groups on the crossing of a large crevasse which required us to bridge it. The delay caused some panic.

We had a Sherpa waiting at camp 2 – Murray. We got on the radio and told him of our plight, and he agreed to start melting snow to ensure continued hydration. Finally we arrived at Camp 2 and all had a pint.

Camp 3 was but a short hop and here we hooked up with a 3 man Canadian Team; Andy, Ross and Scott. They had prepared food so we joined them for some nourishment and further hydration. We remained there a couple of hours before setting off in deteriorating weather conditions. Our next stop was Camp 4; The Eagles Nest. When we reached there our party split into smaller teams.

The Ascent

Ashtead and Godot weren’t waiting around and headed first through The Bottleneck, destination the summit. Pud and Sherpa Murray were the next to set off.

The main party now 10 in number was last to leave. All teams were ahead of schedule with enough light to see them to the summit.

There were a few more hydration stops on the way to the top. Queues at The Bottleneck provided ideal opportunities.

At 4:45pm the final push for the top began. There were a few dangerous moments but in the face of some terrible weather and a near whiteout only yards from the top, the teams try-umphed at 18:50pm.
(Good grief, give me strength! – Ed)

As history tells us getting to the top is just the start. When fatigue has set in and adrenaline has subsided, the journey down is the most hazardous part of all expeditions. Now running low on liquids and food, the descent began.

It was decided to return the way they had come. Pud, Godot and Ashtead descended together and the rest of the group followed a short distance behind.

Everyone met up again at The Black Pyramid before descending through The House Chimney. Radar again took charge of the hydration duties providing a wide range of drinks to the team. Lack of liquid was not going to be an issue for this expedition.

Community singing recommenced, getting progressively louder as base camp approached. But…

The Aftermath

Disaster struck at around 9:30pm when crossing the Godwin Austin glacier. A crevasse opened up and Ashtead fell into it. Fortunately, he was roped to Pud who managed to pull him up. Radar was quickly on the scene to provide first aid to the abrasions before arranging for him to be helicoptered out to safety.

The effects of the days exertions were beginning to be felt. Del Boy started to get confused, a suspected oedema, and this time Radar accompanied him in the helicopter.

The final casualty of the trip was Club, who succumbed to serious food poisoning after eating chicken. It is well known that meat should be avoided in the Himalaya due to lack of safe storage.

It was the end of the expedition, which so nearly ended in disaster, but all survived and prepared for the next time.