ISLAMABAD: This summer’s climbing season came to a close with relatively few successful attempts, none of which took place on K2, the world’s second highest peak.

According to the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP), over a hundred climbers attempted to ascend the 8,611 metre high peak, but a massive avalanche high up on the mountain blew away all the summit push gear, tents, ropes and food deposited by the climbers.

“K2 remains unconquered for the second consecutive year,” said ACP spokesperson Karrar Haidri, explaining how continuous bad weather conditions had forced climbers to return unsuccessful.

While there were no summits on K2, two climbers did summit Broad Peak, three made it to the top of Nanga Parbat, and eight climbers each successfully summited Gasherbrum-I and Gasherbrum-II.

Slovenian mountaineers Ales Cesen and Luka Lindic were the only two climbers to successfully summit the 8,051 metre tall Broad Peak. The duo climbed alpine-style: light and fast, an error that lost other veteran climbers the opportunity to summit the world’s 12th highest mountain.

Despite a clear weather window in July, Spanish veteran climber Oscar Cadiach missed his chance to climb Broad Peak this year and so lost the opportunity to complete his quest to submit all 14 peaks above 8,000 metres. According to Mr Haidri, he has climbed 13 out of the 14 peaks.

On Gasherbrum-I, eight climbers in an expedition led by Mingma Sherpa from Nepal summited the 8,080 metre high peak. Attempts by Polish and Czech climbers were thwarted by the weather, which prevented them from pushing past 7,500 metres. Czech climbers Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula remained holed up on the mountain several days, in an effort to conquer the peak, but were forced to turn back from 7,700 metres.

Similarly, most climbers were unsuccessful on the 8,035 metre Gasherbrum-II, where unfavourable weather and difficult climbing conditions meant that most climbers were unable to reach the top. In July, only eight climbers managed to summit the mountain.

Mr Haidri said while there were only three summits on Nanga Parbat, the summit that caught the world’s attention was on the technically difficult 7,925 metre Gasherbrum-IV by Ales Cesen and Luka Lindic, who reached one of its peaks on the northern face of the mountain on July 26. They had initially planned to climb the western ridge, which is roughly 20 metres higher, but weather conditions and the risk of an avalanche forced them to descend.

Mr Cesen told Dawn: “The descent was harder than climbing most peaks higher than 8,000 metres.”

French alpinists Jerome Chazelas and Thomas Quillet summited the 7,708 metre high Tirich Mir without fixed ropes.

According to the ACP spokesperson, two technically difficult peaks – Gasherbrum-VI, which is 7,003 metres high, and the 7,156 metre Praqpa Ri – remained unconquered.

Published in Dawn September 21st, 2016

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