As many of you have already reminded me, it has taken me a couple of weeks to compile my notes from our summit rotation, primarily due to the limited amount of downtime during our trek back to civilization but also some cumulative fatigue on my part. And those are the last excuses that you will hear from me!
The entries that you will find below are my firsthand account of our successful summit bid on K2. I will limit it to actual events that transpired on the mountain and the emotions that I felt at the time, leaving my reflections for a later time. I’m sure that you are probably relieved to hear that, considering how long winded I can be. So, without further ado, I hope you enjoy my adventure to the 2nd highest summit on earth!
The nerves were there all night, some fear of the unknown and excitement for the remainder. I tossed and turned for the first few hours and eventually zonked out for a couple hours… until I heard the cooks. Breakfast was to be at 5:00, which meant the cook staff had to be up by 3:30 to start making a light meal for our departure. They weren’t loud but the sounds were enough to wake me up in my hyper-sensitive state. Obviously, I laid there for the next hour, running through all the scenarios and obstacles that I might face over the next 5 days.
Minutes seemed like hours but finally my alarm went off and I dug around my sleeping bag for the clothes that I had stashed to ensure that they would be warm when I put them on in the morning. An alpine start is always awful, considering that I’m not a morning person, but it is 10x’s worse if I have to throw on cold clothes. I threw them on in my preplanned order, top first to stay warm while putting on pants, which are a little trickier in a mummy sleeping bag.
I hustled out of my tent to breakfast, determined not to be the last one, especially because I planned to have my customary call to Mom before we broke camp. I finished my meal first and got back to my tent as quickly as I could, hoping that I’d be able to finish an emotional conversation with my Mom before the rest of the team was back to hear. Of course, she was waiting by the phone and answered immediately. The conversation was brief and consisted of her reassuring me of my readiness, rather than me reassuring her! It’s funny how the roles have developed over the years, I always assumed that I would have to be the strong one but these days I find myself getting choked up at the sound of her voice. Perhaps it is the pride that I can hear in her voice or maybe even a little guilt for doing this to her, again. Regardless of the cause, the outcome is always the same, a renewed calm and confidence.
Our team departed BC at 6:10, less the 4 members who had moved to ABC the night before, and made quick work of the move, enjoying the sunrise and a little music along the way. It was strange to say goodbye to my tent, wondering whether I would be returning to it victorious or defeated… When we made it to ABC, we knew the routine of where and when to throw our gear on; harnesses and helmets first but wait for crampons until after you make it through the rocky section. And we were off to the races!
We flew up the mountain, powered by our increased hemoglobin count and a dash of excitement for what lay ahead. The contingent that had been at ABC had begun more than an hour before us and we ended up passing half of them. When we arrived at C1, around 11 AM (over an hour faster than our first rotation), we had slim pickings on tents because the good ones had already been spoken for. The options were to build a new tent platform or try to overhaul an existing one. Geoff and I opted for the deformed, lopsided and dirty tent, while Jesse and David decided to spend an hour building a new platform. Ultimately, the time that we saved not having to build a platform, was probably lost in filling gaps under our pads with clothing to try to compensate for the uneven rock and snow foundation. Having been shafted at almost every camp, the four of us conspired to get an early jump the following day and have our pick of the (tent) litter at C2!