10 February 2003

Silence at the table

Camp3 ©Zaluski

The weather is making the situation of the expedition more and more difficult. The wind has pressed the fixed ropes into the snow - - they have to be pulled out, it has buried the camps, which have to be dug up, and has made the ice cracks invisible.

Bartek Duda fell into one of them on his way to camp I, before he could reach the fixed ropes. "I fell up to my chest. My rucksack stopped me. I crawled out with difficulty, digging my heels in, using my legs and my back. That was a fearsome experience", - he said when he was safe. After the night spent at camp I, Bartek returned on Sunday to the base. He realized that he is in too much pain in order to be able to climb with the heavy rucksack. Jacek Jawien remained alone at camp I. He was supposed to accompany Bartek, delivering equipment to the higher camps.

"Jacek should not go alone", - warned Denis Urubko at camp III on Sunday morning. "The ropes are so icy that the safety devices slide on them." Jawien takes a rest at camp I.

On Sunday, the mountain was smoking with snow, blown off by a strong wind. Denis Urubko, Piotr Morawski and Marcin Kaczkan have reached camp III. The tent has endured the wind. At this altitude, the temperature is -35 -40C. "The wind was blowing strong and it's terribly cold", - says Piotr Morawski over the radiotelephone. "We measured the altitude of the camp with the GPS. It is 7150 m. Denis is worried that this is very low".

" The poles are holding, only the tent's envelope is torn. Somebody has walked over it with crampons", - reported Denis Urubko. Wind permitting, we'll try to climb higher tomorrow and establish fixed ropes as far as possible. But the three of us won't work any wonders. We need support. We need strong teams, carrying equipment, bringing equipment to the camps, taking care of the tents and creating bases of supply, who will then replace us.

We listened to Denis' words at the base in the evening. The wind was pulling at the tents. The penetrating chill would not let us rest.

"Who's going up tomorrow?", - asked Krzysztof Wielicki, the head of the expedition. He was faced with a wall of silence. "I can't force anybody. All I can do is appeal ", - he asked. Everybody was starring at their plates.

Monika Rogozinska "Rzeczpospolita" from the base under K2. Feb. 9, 2003

(Polish - English translation: "Scrivanek")