Back in the “world”, time seems abundant; a commodity rarely in short supply and never concrete enough to feel as if it were literally slipping though ones fingers. Even when “drinking from the CS [work] fire hose” time is always available if one tries – utilizing it is simply a case of organization and working at a somewhat frenetic rate. However frenzied, there is never a sense of ‘running out” of time – never a feeling there will never be “no more”.
My attempt to summit K2 is however, most definitely time-dependent. Much like Mount Everest there is a Nature dictated window through which I must attempt to pass in order to succeed. Miss it, through either not being adequately acclimatized, suffering a lack of operational readiness or Nature herself simply changing her mind and the many weeks of pain, effort, filth and tedium are all for naught.
We lost another valuable day yesterday owning to a small difference of opinion between some of our staff and a third party on the mountain, which dictated a brief hiatus and suspension of our rope-fixing effort. The differences were debated and resolved back at BC in very short order, but nevertheless the day and the vertical advances we had planned were all shunted back 24 hours.
These delays, albeit trivial to the casual observer, feel overly significant to people like me, who don’t have limitless time available to achieve my goal. That being said, we have been very lucky with weather and logistics to date; it just doesn’t feel that way.
This is best explained as Tait paranoia – I am fully aware that all has been done that can be done, but that clock continues remorselessly and ticks ever louder in my ears. Some may recognize my race against time mentality - I don’t think this is an expedition phenomenon!
So, our Sherpas left this morning at 4am, hauling a large quantity of oxygen bottles for stockpiling at C3 and C4, in anticipation of our summit attempt. Both the climbers and Sherpa will use the oxygen – there are no “oxygenless” ascents planned.
All being well I will leave at 3-4 am tomorrow morning hauling a heavy pack containing Oxygen, my down suit, food, Thermarest, pee bottle, extra clothing, water, spare heavy gloves, medical/toiletries, ice axe, camera, sat phone and avalanche transceiver and begin the slog to C2. After one night perched on this forbidding ice shelf, I will slog another vertical 1000+m to an even more inhospitable C3 and hunker down for a further night. The oxygen will be limited at this altitude and it is likely that sleep will be fleeting. However this is the high-altitude shock ones body needs to be ready for the rigours of summit day.
Having suffered C3 night, I will descend to BC for a rest [and wash] and then rest in anticipation of our summit push, which I hope Nature will facilitate a matter of a few days later.
The current weather forecast is for relatively fine weather for the next 2 days followed by a narrow and shallow trough, with light precipitation followed by [fingers crossed] relatively fine weather once again. The “typical” summit week has historically been the last week of July and I am praying to all Deities that this hold to be true in 2015.
I have reached the stage in the expedition where I repeatedly scroll through my iPad and iPhone pictures – it happens every time. The expeditions break down into segments or phases; I have now reached the “stare at pictures of family and home stage” – its painful.
That being said, I am encouraged by our progress to date, and if the old adage “nothing good comes without a great deal of effort” is true, we are on course for a happy ending. We just need Lady Nature to sympathise.
For the uninitiated, I am attempting to climb K2 on behalf of the NSPCC, a UK anti-sexual abuse charity, partly to raise awareness of the daily horrors inflicted of very young children and partly to raise funds to combat these heinous crimes before they happen.
Any donation to the cause, large or small is more appreciated than I can articulate. The money is used carefully and intelligently; I can attest to this fact having previously been a Trustee.
Please consider donating – and to those who have been so kind to have done so, thank you.
All my expeditions past and present have been 100% self-funded. All the money donated goes directly to the Charity and the children who need it.
C2 View from BC -Distant
C2 View from BC - Medium
C2 View from BC through telescope...