Booting in our line
Summit Bid July 3rd
4 Jul, 04 - 13:48
Saturday morning Rory and I started toward the summit by 8:00 AM. The brew session in the morning took an amazing amount of time even with the stove inside the tent.
We traversed along the right hand flank of the glacier skirting the rocks and steep terrain. We took turns breaking trail. The going was a bit slow at 24,000 ft. There is a large break in the glacier at 25,000 ft. At this point a climber must decide whether to traverse far left around the obvious cracks or take the right side. Rory and I decided that the right side would save about a kilometer and we were unroped. I crossed a bergshrund and traversed across a 70 degree ice slope. The front point was a bit spicy with potential consequences. We moved onto the upper glacier 750 feet below the col. The winds were gusting to high speeds intermittently. The snow became very deep, I mean mid thigh and heavy. The time was after noon and our altitude was 25,500 ft. We were just 1100 ft from the summit! Unable to move farther up the mountain we were forced to turn around.
On the way back Rory decided to take a snow ramp down the center of the glacier. There was an old fixed rope that made the line seem plausible. As Rory probed the snow bridge with the fixed line as backup the ramp collapsed. We were both surprised at the frailty of the snow. I followed over the gaper and we slowly made our way back across the long traverse to our fifth camp at 24,000 ft. I like to joke that we were on the twelve step program because we had to rest often. Unbeknownst to us we were being scrutinized by many eyes from both base camps.
Back safely to our camp in the serac nest we broke camp and packed our belongings. The Austrians said that we could use their tent and sleeping bags at 23,000 ft. We arrived and were grateful that there was no tent platform to dig and tent to set up.
Despite not reaching the summit on our attempt I felt proud. I am here to climb. We are not following somebody else's footsteps or fixed ropes. I have really tasted the mountain and have chosen the route that Rory and I decided was our best option.
This morning was the fourth of July. We descended 7000 ft to Broad Peak base camp. The Austrians welcomed us down with cuts of the finest ham and salami. Afterwards Rory and I made the hour walk back to K2. I am looking forward to two rest days before regrouping to climb again.