WINTER POLISH EXPEDITION
to catch my computer
mountaineers are licking their wounds. Krzysztof Wielicki, the head
of the expedition, has sent some of them back below to the Chinese base,
so that they can rest and heal their frostbites under better conditions.
It is unknown what will be left of the expedition after the snowstorm.
Muhammad Hanif watches over us like a good spirit. The senior weatherman
in Pakistan keeps sending us by email accurate weather forecasts, enclosing
friendly comments and pieces of advice: "Be careful! And hide safely"
or "You now have three days of good weather ahead, let's go!"
This time, he sent his warning twice, imploring us to take it seriously
- hurricane winds are approaching - and even though strong air flows
and low temperatures are fairly common in winter in Karakorum, this
time the danger is grave.
Krzysztof Wielicki has taken these pieces of advice seriously. He has
descended to the base from camp II. He has also decided to send the
participants of the expedition to the Chinese base, located a day's
walk and over one kilometer below from here, so that they can rest.
At the upper base, at 5100 m, with temperatures reaching minus 30 deg.
C, it is hard to regenerate strength. Everyone staying here is guaranteed
to become slimmer, no matter how much they eat. A few people wanted
or had to stay here, however. Swollen toes of frostbitten feet will
not always fit into shoes. You have to treat them somehow, but it is
A few days ago, a group of five long awaited friends arrived. Taking
the opportunity, a camel caravan brought supplies for the expedition,
first and foremost food. Jacek (Jacques) Olek, honorary deputy head
of the present expedition, arrived from Canada. Polish alpinism owes
the execution of the victorious, pioneer winter expedition to Cho Oyu
and the first and only attempt so far to reach the summit of K2 in winter
from the Pakistan side to the friendship between Olek and Andrzej Zawada.
Zawada started to prepare together with Olek this expedition as well.
Zawada's incurable illness caused Jacek to go to the scheduled reconnaissance
under K2 from the Chinese side, in the winter of 2000, together with
Dariusz Zaluski. They had to check whether it was possible to reach
this place and cross the rapid Shaksgam River.
From Poland came Robert Janik, a surgeon, experienced rescuer and former
chief of the Voluntary Tatra Mountain Rescue Team, one of the few witnesses
to the great days of Polish alpinism. - I've been here for a short time
only and wouldn't like to make the current situation appear worse than
it is - says Janik - but I have the impression that the Himalayas let
you catch some breath even in winter, while Karakorum appears to be
exceptionally harmful to man.
Muhammad Hanif was right saying that the wind strength would be untypical
even for winter. As predicted, the snowstorm has blocked our view to
the world. The wind tears with such strength at the tents that the aluminum
frames are breaking. It is impossible to write this report. The tent
is tightly closed, while the table with the computer on it keeps jumping
up like it is bewitched. I cannot keep up with it.
What are the tents going to look like after this blizzard? Will they
be sitting at all on K2's northern slople?
the base under K2. Feb. 16, 2003