After three days of heavy snow at Base Camp from 16-19 July; weather settling down the past two days and with an excellent and extended good weather window from 22 July to the end of the month, we have fixed our summit plans. Our extended team will be attempting to summit K2 over two days - 26 and 27 July – with the majority, including myself and Al Hancock, going for the first day and the American party the second.
The forecast between 22-28 looks extremely positive with very low South-Westerly winds, zero snowfall, sunshine and mild temperatures of around -15C at the summit for both days. The temperatures raise some concern, but it is hoped the higher winds up to the 22nd and sunshine will blast or consolidate recent snowfall from the upper slopes. Above all, however, it is the extended time frame of this window which is the most encouraging. We appear to have reserve days in case of problems.
It is sincerely hoped that the other teams at Base Camp will also split between both dates to avoid any possible bottlenecks at difficult sections on summit night. Indeed, there is probably greater advantages in going the second night than the first with this positive forecast.
For those reading this not fully aware of the time frames involved, most climbers will take five days for the summit push – thus for us it will be Day 1 (22 July) to Camp 1, Day 2 (23 Jul) to Camp 2, Day 3 (24 Jul) to Camp 3, Day 4 (25 Jul) to Camp 4, spending just a few hours there hydrating and eating before heading off for the summit around 9 pm that evening. All being well, we would aim to reach the summit by lunchtime the next day (Day 5, 26 Jul) before returning to Camp 4 for the night. Day 6 would see us rappelling down to Base Camp. That’s how it looks in theory; in practice anything and everything can change, particularly on this mountain.
Right now there is a surreal ‘calm before the storm’ atmosphere at Base Camp. A lot of visiting between camps, socializing, information sharing and even singing and dancing Friday night. As the largest team here - and the one going to be fixing lines from Camp 3 to Camp 4 and then at stages from Camp 4 to the summit - it is also fair to observe that most other teams have been waiting for our plans to be firmed up.
I have no doubt that as our Tuesday departure draws closer, the relaxed atmosphere will give way to some intense thoughts going round all of our minds and I will my own feelings in all honesty Monday night.
For now, however, I am simply delighted to have got two long rotations in of four nights each in the past two weeks and am here at Base Camp feeling fit, strong and, above all, absent of any injuries, body pains or infections. I am being utterly anal re the latter in the hygiene field, washing or disinfecting hands after any contact with other human hands, tent zips or other surfaces that others may have touched. It may appear obsessive, but I am simply not prepared to risk a summit by catching something from someone else.
We have a couple more days here relaxing and preparing ourselves before the off. I will savor it to the maximum, whilst getting that goal in sight. Many thanks to everyone for their messages and support, it is hugely appreciated.