Only Summit Is Summit
By: Joëlle Brupbacher
In Memory of Gerd McDonald
One more time, I took the way to Pakistan with my friends Jorge and Martin. After some trekking days over the Baltoro glacier we arrived in K2 basecamp. The weather was not so hot like other years and there were only a few expeditions at the mountain; so it was great. I’m here again trying to climb this incredible and huge mountain, for sure so special, such a contrast in the mountain world. When I’m looking at K2, I see a mountain so high, so wild but at the same time so simple, so perfect like it’s surreal. I know to climb a mountain like this will be hard, difficult and I’ll have to suffer a lot. But knowing all this, I feel in calm beeing here and in this time, I don’t want to stay in another place. After the big tragedy last year, it was even more a special feeling to be here again. I need to say good-bye to close friends who died here one year ago.
For the first acclimatisation we chose the Spanish-Cesen route. We slept one night on an incredible small balcony, between camp I and camp II. The night was bad, very windy and cold. In the morning, we decided to go down in the middle of a strong storm. After this conditons on the mountain, the basecamp is looking like a five star hotel. The sleeping tent is so big, you have place to turn around in the night, the best cook is preparing the best food for you and going to the toilet is so easy without the necessity of keeeping the rope...
After some discussions about the small tent places in the Spanish-Cesen route, we decided to change to the Abruzzi way. Because there were not a lot of other teams (or because they didn’t want to work) we prepared all the way at the mountain. Jorge, Martin and me fixed ropes from ABC to camp III in four hard days. There were a lot of snow, icy rocks and the weather was for this season very cold and windy. Mostly the nights in camp II were unconfortable; it was dangerous to go out of the tent, go to the toilet, to scoop snow away of the tent. I remember other years in this camp, when I could enjoy this place, sitting outside, cooking in open space. We spend one night in camp III and in this acclimatisation time, Jorge took his chance and went in a solo ascent to the summit. But for him the time at K2 was not finish yet, he came up again to help me and Martin.
Back in hotel basecamp we could rest and took power for the next ascent. After some days the weahter window appeard and we could climb up again. In two long days we reached camp III once more. The weather reports announced a short, less wind window; we were ready.
But the good-weather window didn’t arrive and I must wait three nights in camp II. One day later, I met Jorge, Martin and some other climbers in camp III. At the 25. of July at one in the night we started for the summit. As we expected, there were a lot of snow, we fought all the dark night. Also a group of eight strong climbers was not enough power against the power of the mountain. Around 7900m we decided to turn back. The snow was to deep, the conditions to dangerous. After the first disappointment, we were happy and contented that nothing happened and everybody was safe back in basecamp. I didn’t want to make a second attempt, the conditions in the beginning of august becomes always very bad and the mountain so dangerous with a lot of rockfalls. The work at home was waiting for us and we would spend some days in different mountain villages to give medical help to the people there. Like the years before, it’s always a great work with a lot of gratitude and satisfaction.
I’m dreaming of a home like a place where I feel calm and enjoy my life. In K2 I find both... For sure it was not my last time on K2. But just now, it was definetly my best time at this incredible mountain.