30 January, 2003

Not up to the challenge

?We need you very much¦ - says Krzysztof Wielicki to Vassiliy Pivtsov. Photo by © Monika Rogozinska

Vassiliy Pivtsov , the alpinist from Kazakhstan, has left the expedition today for family reasons. His climbing partner and fellow countryman Denis Urubko has set off in the opposite direction - to set himself against the slope of K2. Together with Piotr Morawski and Marcin Kaczkan, they will try to reach the destroyed camp II.

The day before, Gia Tortladze and his companion Ilias Tukhvatullin from Uzbekistan left the expedition. Krzysztof Wielicki, the head of the expedition, commented on this as follows: "I think that the decision to escape was caused by a lack of winter experience. After 20 days during which he could not climb above camp I, Tortladze noticed that there was no place for him here and simply gave up. This surprised me all the more, because the alpinists from the East were usually very obliging, they would help others, almost selflessly identifying themselves with the expedition.

In this case, his own interest turned out to be the most important factor. His ambition did not allow Gia to come to me and talk. He'd rather burden the team with his individual problem. He manipulated the people. It's most unusual to leave in the middle of an expedition to which you have been invited. It seems to me that it was better for him to leave, though, since during such a difficult expedition it's easy to antagonize others with defeatism, to stress the impossibility of the undertaking, to frighten. Winter in the highest mountains requires patience. Gia and his companion were simply not up to the challenge."

Difficult farewell. Gia Tortladze and Ilias Tukhvatullin are ready to leave the base. Photo by © Monika Rogozinska

Maciek Pawlikowski is trying to fix the tent at camp II (6600 m). The tent has been destroyed badly by the wind. Photo - Dariusz Zaluski.

The head of the expedition asked Gia Tortladze, who was at the intermediate base, through the radiotelephone to leave two down suits for the young Polish mountaineers, who until now have been busy transporting the expedition's equipment to the main base and are now taking over some of the work on the slope. The Georgian refused to return the suits, which he had received along with other equipment from the K2 Winter Expedition, explaining that he is going to need them for... the next expedition in Tien-Shan, where he is just about to go. He will try to reach the summit of the 7000er Peak Pobieda, and right afterwards in the spring Manaslu, an 8000er, in an expedition led by the Polish alpinist Piotr Pustelnik.

The weather forecasts we keep receiving from Pakistan are coming true, but are unfortunately very unfavorable. The strong winds, the clouds and the snowstorms that plague us constantly are still to be part of our everyday life. At present, we are able to see K2 once a week. Usually, it is shrouded in mist. It was visible yesterday. Denis Urubko, Piotr Morawski and Marcin Kaczkan have set out to camp I. The young Poles can take advantage of Denis' knowledge and experience, and he is going to be supported by a strong and determined team. Weather permitting, they will try to permanently establish camp II.

Maciek Pawlikowski from Zakopane, Poland, has already adjusted to the altitude. He is a member of the TOPR ("Tatra Voluntary Rescue Team") and has already participated in a dozen or so big expeditions to the Himalayas and to Karakorum, including the K2 winter expedition from the Pakistani side. He has been neither concerned with his head injury caused by ice slivers, nor with frostbites or his temporary blindness. He awaits his turn to set himself against K2's Northern Pillar once again.

Despite bad weather, Piotr Morawski, Denis Urubko and Marcin Kaczkan are getting ready to leave the base and begin climbing the slope of K2 by preparing the ropes. Photo by © Monika Rogozinska

Monika Rogozinska "Rzeczpospolita" from the base under K2.

(Polish - English translation: "Scrivanek")