While the Russians will be attempting the first successful ascent of the Savage K-2, another team of highly ambitious and renowned climbers will be locked in a fierce battle to summit Gasherbrum 1, the 11th highest mountain in the world. This will also be the first successful attempt of the dreaded peak in case the team is able to reach the peak in the dead of winters. Gerfried Goschl, one of the accomplished mountaineers in the world, will be leading the team including Darek Zaluski, Nisar Hussain, Cedric Hahlen, Alex Txikon and Carlos Suarez and will be treading on a new route on the 8,080 metre peak. Here is the details of the latest interview with the team leader Goschl who confided the latest intricate details of the mission.
Question: Are you going for the same line you tried last year?
Goschl: Yes, the same route we attempted last winter on the steep south face of G1. I’ve been checking this (rather logical) line for eight years and know it by heart by now. I’m absolutely positive that this is the most direct route between BC and summit.
Question: What does it look like, in terms of difficulty?
Goschl: It’s quite technical and demanding up to 6800 meters. Upon reaching a ridge, we’ll have to down climb some meters, but not too much. The route actually gets easier in the upper sections. Looking down on it from the G1 summit this summer, it was exactly like I had imagined. I’m so looking forward to be back again soon on this fantastic face!
Question: What are your plans for the descent?
Goschl: Well, some of us are planning to traverse down to the north side of the mountain, and descend via the normal route – thus achieving a first ascent+traverse.
Question: The "ABC Team" has doubled up. Did you headhunt for the new members or did they come to you?
Goschl: In fact last winter showed us that the job needed on such a steep face was too exhausting for only three climbers. After Louis quit the upcoming attempt, Alex and I looked for the right people to share our project.
Question: Will you be working as one single team under your leadership, or do you have different objectives within the expedition? How will you share the work?
Goschl: We will all work as one team on the south face. I plan to divide the work in two small groups fixing the route up to 6800 meters as fast as possible. We all will climb together from there, especially on the summit push.
Question: The new additions are Polish Darek Zaluski, Spanish Carlos Suarez, Nisar Hussain from Pakistan and Swiss Cedric Hahlen. Tell us more about them?
Goschl: Well, Darek has got five 8000ers – latest, K2 north pillar this summer. He is also a professional cameraman and, typically for that generation of Polish mountaineers, highly experienced in winter climbing. Darek Carlos is well known in Spain for doing "crazy" things such as bold climb+BASE jumps. He is a strong technical climber and also has experience from a 8000er-summit (Cho Oyu).
is our man, especially to film a documentary about the climb.
Since we first knew each other in 2003 Nisar has been a close friend of mine. He has been personal HAP (high altitude porter) for my team members on Nanga Parbat, G2 and K2. Nisar climbed all 8000ers in Pakistan several times, always without artificial oxygen, and he set a new record last summer as the first to summit Pakistan 8000ers ten times (1xK2, 1xNP, 1xBP, 4xG2, 3xG1). No doubt he is the strongest climber in Pakistan. Of course he climbs for money (as do all HAPs) most of the time but it’s also his passion. This winter for the first time Nissar will join a team not because of salary but because he wants to be part of the project. He knows G1 very, very well! Down the road we’ll try to bring him as member in our Nepal expeditions since it’s his biggest dream. Cedric is an ambitious young mountain guide from Switzerland who already climbed K2, Kanch, BP foresummit and Gasherbrum II East (7772m, new route from Chinese side). What else would he need to be on the team?
Question: Which lessons from last winter will you apply this year?
Goschl: We now know that we need the best possible gear to fix the route. For instance, dealing with ice hard as rock last year made us bring high quality ice screws this time. An earlier start will allow more time before the end of the winter. Finally, we’re now six instead of three, which hopefully will result in faster work on the lower part of the route.
Again we trust our friend and agent Muhammad Ali and his agency Adventure Pakistan for the logistics. I must say he did a great job for us the entire year. Our BC is already set up, fully supplied and waiting!
Question: You mentioned a documentary on the climb. Does that mean more cool video files such as the ones you uploaded last year?
Goschl: The funds from an Austrian TV network producing a documentary about the project actually allowed us to include Darek in the expedition. But of course you’ll still get interesting video clips!
Question: There are 5 teams scheduled this winter on three Pakistan 8000ers. Does this signal increased interest in winter Himalaya, and why is that do you think?
Goschl: For a small group of climbers, a winter climb provides the hardest conditions, but also fascinating moments and lots of fun. I am sure that all 8000ers will be climbed in winter ten years from now. So, if you wanna be part of history you better join now! That’s what I’m doing.
Question: This is your second winter attempt on a summit you bagged this summer – won’t that affect your motivation?
Goschl: Right after the winter expedition I decided to climb G1 in summer with three goals in mind: To acclimate for K2; to get to know intimately every step to the GI summit on the normal route on the north side; and to take a good lookat our planned winter route down the south face. (It also proved a great adventure with good friends and a big success. I wanted to prepare for the really “mad” upcoming winter project. I want to climb G1 in winter, via a new route and make the first traverse of any 8000er in winter (south to north). Nobody has had such an incredible idea before. For me, personally, this project is so incredibly interesting in itself, that I really don’t care if I’ve been on the summit before. Moreover, to have summited already gives me a psychological advantage when I stand up there in winter. Knowing the route down to the north side might help to take such an overwhelmingly hard step.
My view is that if you don’t really believe in your project, in the possibility of succeeding on it –you don’t go for the same 8000er three times a year, least of all in winter!
Gerfried Göschl (39) lives in Liezen, Austria with his wife and two daughters. He initiated, organized and led several big expeditions for the Austrian Alpine Club (OeAV). His first 8000er summits were Cho Oyu (2002) and GII (2003). In 2005 he summited Shisha Pangma’s main summit and Everest without O2 within a month. In 2007 he attempted a Broad Peak/K2 double header – he summited Broad, but failed to reach K2’s top due to deep snow and high risk of avalanche.In 2009 Gerfried led a team up a new variation line on Nanga Parbat, but suffered the loss of mate Wolfgang Koblinger.
Through autumn 2010, he collected more than €20,000 for his family’s relief organization in Pakistan’s Northern areas near Besham, together with his father Rainer Göschl and climbing mates Günther Unterberger, Hans Goger and brother Rainer Wolfgang Göschl (they collaborate through charity lectures). With the donations they provided the first crucial help to the local flood victims. 2011 was a busy year for Gerfried who, after the winter attempt, ended up summiting GI in
summer; then he attempted again K2. He is currently preparing for his second attempt on winter GII via a new route, leading an international team.
_ Gasherbrum I
The climbers on G1 have been speedy right after their arrival in BC. Alex and Carlos carried fixed ropes up to 5800 meters on Tuesday. Gerfried Göschl's group went after the next day but had to turn back at 6,000m due to high risk of frostbitet, They said, "We left the gear cached up there and fled back down." The next planned round is for C1 at 6,200m.
On Friday Adam Bielecki from the Polish team went up with high altitude porters Ali and Shaheen to set up C1 at 5,930m. Hidden crevasses and weak snow bridges reportedly made for a dramatic climb. Adam said the men fell through several times and once had to descend 40 meters into a huge crevasse and walk along its bottom for 300m before finding a way out.
Pitching C1 was, "a constant fight against frostbite" Adam said about the cold coupled with hard wind. Artur and Janusz took the next shift, expecting to spend a night in C1 and scout the route to C2.
Rope by rope, the Russians forge their way up K2. Andrew Mariev and Alex Bolotov reached 7000m while Nickolay Totmjanin's men left BC on Saturday with the mission to establish camp 3.
K2 forecast by Karl Gabl
Elena Laletina of RussianClimb provided a fresh forecast for K2 by Austrian weather wizard Karl Gabl:
The main axis of the Jet-stream is still situated in Southern Pakistan (westerly component) and over Nepal in a South-westerly direction.
29.01. 30.01. 31.01. 1.02. 2.02.
6500m SW25 SW40 SW25 NW40 SW45 kph
7500 m SW55 SW60 SW45 NW80 SW80
Wind mainly from Southwest, exclusive on Sunday (29th) for a few hours from Northwest. After the 1st of February wind will get stronger and stormy over 7000m..
The 1st of Feb should be dry, the other days have weak signals for light snowfall, from 3rd to 4th February snow fall will increase a bit.
Temperature: free atmosphere
29.01. 30.01. 31.01. 1.02. 2.02.
6500m -31 -31 -33 -28 -28 °C
7500 m -38 -41 -35 -36 -36
_ Simone and Denis went up to C2 as per their plan on Thursday and then pushed beyond to C3, at 6,600m. Simone said the cold froze the radio. An attempt to 7,100 m was thwarted by fog on Friday and the two descended to BC for a brake.
No fewer than two teams are engaged to scale Gasherbrum-1, the second highest peak in the asherbrum Massif and have been engaged in acclimatisation rigours for the last few weeks. Gasherbrum-1, also known as the Hidden Peak or the K-5, is the Highest among the all the seven Gasherbrum peaks in Pakistan and is the second highest in Pakistan after K-2. Currently Gerfried Goschl along with his group of five accomplished mountaineers will be attempting to scale the giant rock while another group of Polish Mountaineers will be pitched in the same battle. G-1 has never been summated in winters and is one of the remaining four 8000ers in Pakistan which have never been scaled in winters. The team includes Darek Zaluski, Nisar Hussain, Cedric Hahlen, Alex Txikon and Carlos Suarez and will be treading on a new route on the 8,080 metre peak. The Polish team comprises of Adam Bielecki, Agnieszka Bielecka, Janusz Gołąb led by the renowned Polish winter climber Artur Hajzer. The Polish team has already covered considerable ground as the two teams are locked in fierce battle to summit the
peak for the first time in winters, although in a healthy competitive and friendly environment. The Polish Team leader Hajzer wrote in his message on January 19.
"We are bivouacking in Gore II at 4,300 m above sea level. There is no snowfall; a 15 cm snow cover; cloud top height - 6,000 m; weak wind - 15 km/h; 80% cloudiness; the temperature in tents is -10°C. We have reached this place after three nights in Jola, Payu and Urdukas. We will reach the base camp in two or three days, depending on porters' decision. The weather conditions are favourable for marching, though our porters would like it to be sunnier. On the other hand, it is warmer thanks to the clouds, i.e. -10°C at this time of the year is a rather high temperature. Military posts that we pass inspire our respect. In small huts without heating, in the middle of the glacier soldiers guard vast boarders of their country. Their situation is unenviable. From Payu we follow the Baltoro Glacier. The path is rather distinct: mounds and tracers show us the route; military telephone cables are sometime visible."
Goschl's team also includes Nisar Hussain, the young Pakistani prodigy who has the accolade of climbing all the five-8000ers of Pakistan and was the first and the youngest Pakistani to do it. Goschl spoke highly of Hussain who works as a High Altitude Porter (HAP) and although he normally climbs for money, Goschl says Hussain also has personal ambitions regarding mountaineering. Goschl said, "Since we first knew each other in 2003 Nisar has been a close friend of mine. He has been personal HAP (high altitude porter) for my team members on Nanga Parbat, G2 and K2. Nisar climbed all 8000ers in Pakistan several times, always without artificial oxygen, and he set a new record last summer as the first to summit Pakistan 8000ers ten times (1xK2, 1xNP, 1xBP, 4xG2, 3xG1). No doubt he is the strongest climber in Pakistan. Of course he climbs for money (as do all HAPs) most of the time but it's also his passion. This winter for the first time Nissar will join a team not because of salary but because he wants to be part of the project. He knows G1 very, very well! Down the road we'll try to bring him as member in our Nepal expeditions since it's his biggest dream."
Gasherbrum which in Balti means either "Beautiful Mountain" or "Shining Wall", was first successfully scaled in 1958 by Americans, Andrew Kauffman and Pere Schoening. Wojciech Kurtyka and Jerzy Kukuczka were the first Poles, who summated it in 1983. They climbed in alpine style via the southwest face. The most popular classic route leads from the west side and in the upper parts goes through the
so-called "Japanese Couloir", situated in the highest part of the north-west face.
Reports are still coming in as the Russian giants continue with their attempt to scale the Savage K-2 for the first time in winters. Karakorum, unlike its neighbouring Himalayas in Nepal, is famous for the harshest of the winters in the world after the polar caps. While the mountaineers keep fighting the below freezing temperatures, what has been more of a trouble lately are the fierce winds which have the might to blow away almost anything in its path. The Russian team has been battering terrible weather conditions for consecutive days now and much of their plans for the day ahead have been laid to waste. The formidable “Ice Warriors” have still managed to fix Camp-2 via the Cessen Route and are waiting impatiently in their for the weather window to climb to higher altitudes. The Russian National Team Expedition K2 Winter Ascent official website on January 22nd, 2012 read, "Jan, 20 Iljas's group descended to BC (Base Camp). Jan, 22 Alexey Bolotov's group returned to BC too. Guys lifted loads to C2. C1 and C2, broken by the hurricane, has been reset. They couldn't climb above C2 via fixed some days earlier ropes because of the strongest winds. Yesterday, close to the evening, the sun appeared on the sky for 30 minutes. We didn't see the sun from Jan, 12. But today, Jan, 22 the weather extremely worsened. The trio led by Nick Totmjanjn are ready for the work on the route”.
One of the nine-member team, Vladimir Belous, has already been sent back after acquiring severe frost bite on his toe during the hurricane last week. He had to descend to lower altitudes after losing his crampons. Weather conditions have
been predicted to remain turbulent for another two days before the climbers will hopefully find a weather window to forge ahead with their mission. Meanwhile two other teams are working their way for the virgin winter ascent of the Gasherbrum-1 also known as the Hidden peak or K-5. Temperatures at Concordia during the nights regularly plummets to -25 degrees Celsius, making it all the more difficult to survive the perilous conditions.