WINTER POLISH EXPEDITION
THE WHITE HORSE
Wielicki and Jacek Berbeka have not managed to set up camp II
and 6600 m, although last Saturday they had been climbing more
than ten hours without a break. However, by defeating the rocky
barrier, they have opened up the way for the ones to follow. Wielicki
had a mild accident that will prevent him from climbing for some
The head of the Netia K2 Winter Expedition and Jacek Berbeka have
set out from camp I (5950 m) while it was still dark, at 5.30
am. Extremely weighed down by the equipment needed for setting
up camp II, they reached the end of the fixed ropes (6450 m) after
around seven hours.
steep slopes are covered with a layer of hard ice, on which the alpinists
keep climbing with the front teeth of their crampons. From the base,
we have been observing almost all the climbing efforts of our friends
by means of a telescope. A strong wind was blowing. The view on K2 was
partly blocked by clouds. The fixed ropes ended before the rocky barrier.
"In the summer, the route leads in a different way. We are able
to move straight up, nearer the Pillar's edge, due to the snow which
partly covers the rocks - explains Krzysztof Wielicki. - Now we have
to choose between steep ice and pure rock."
head of the expedition has led a difficult ascent. - Mr. Wielicki is
a true Polish count - says, with deep respect, Denis Urubko from Kazakhstan,
who is following the leader's achievements through the telescope. -
He is capable of pursuing a goal against all odds. However, I'd rather
he managed the expedition from the base instead of mounting a white
horse, leading an army and brandishing his sword - he adds, worried.
We have not noticed Wielicki falling off the slope. He slid off merely
two meters, but it was enough for the ice-axe he had fastened to his
hand to hit his calf. He kept on climbing nonetheless. After 150 m,
he climbed above the first part of rocks. An icy couloir in the rocky
labyrinth led to flatter snowy-icy grounds, where he wanted to pitch
the tent. At this spot, they ran out of fixed ropes to secure the route.
Being miles away, we observed the long and vivid discussion between
the climbing partners, guessing its course from the gesticulation. Wielicki
wanted to continue without security measures to the nearby bivouac spot.
Berbeka refused to climb further on the steep ice without ropes. Each
had their own reasons. They started to descend. Dusk fell and we stopped
seeing them. We waited a long time by the radiotelephones until they
reached camp I.
Jacek Berbeka decided to return to the base to rest. He reached it at
10.30 pm. That day, he was climbing and descending for 17 hours non
stop. Wielicki arrived at the base on Sunday, limping. His calves are
very bruised. Right now it is hard to tell how long he will not be able
to climb. Apart from that, he is in good shape, since he started to
tidy up the base already, telling off alpinists, to whom he amicably
refers to as "moose".
Denis Urubko, Vassiliy Pivtsov, Gia Tortladze and Ilias Tukhvatullin
are already preparing for setting up camp II. For a few days, along
with a strong wind, there has been warmer weather. The temperature only
falls to minus 15 degrees.
Monika Rogozinska "Rzeczpospolita" from
the base under K2 01.20.03
- English translation: "Scrivanek")