18 February 2003


Something to think about it

In the BC. Photo - © Monika Rogozinska

The wind today is 184km/h on 7800.

The upper base is buried in a snowstorm. K2 roars with hurricane winds from behind a wall of fog. Most mountaineers have descended to lower altitudes, where it is warmer. Some will not return to this place.

The visibility is so limited that one of our friends, who is a guest with the expedition, got lost on the glacier on his way back from the toilet. This comical adventure might have ended tragically.

Following the head's appeal, most alpinists have descended to the intermediate base or the Chinese base. This is not only about getting some rest. The upper base has started to resemble a strange kind of sanatorium, crowded with patients, where it was impossible to be cured, however. Life was taking place mainly at the table. The food supplies were dwindling away at an appalling speed. Meanwhile, two Hunzas have fallen ill, who have been patiently and selflessly carrying food and fuel on the K2 glacier. Dr Roman Mazik has descended to the intermediate base, where both of them live, in order to examine them. It is nothing serious, but the overall exhaustion has taken its toll on them as well.

Some of the expedition's participants will not return to this place. The weather deterioration is supposed to be long lasting. As soon as the weather improves, Krzysztof Wielicki will call only on those who, after climbing the slope of K2 once again, will not have to amputate their toes. First of all, it will be necessary to send a reconnaissance, checking the condition of the camps. Should they survive the present gales, the attack on the summit is supposed to take place until the end of February. At present, only two alpinists are in sufficiently good shape to take this kind of risk: Denis Urubko and Marcin Kaczkan, who has never reached the summit of an 8000er before, however. The head of the expedition considers himself to be the third one to do it.

I asked Denis Urubko whether he would be willing to try to reach the summit on his own, since he knows that the peak is only one kilometer away from camp IV - providing it still exists -, and that there is no time to return to the tent during the day. Leaving for the Chinese base to get some rest, he answered: "Give me a few days to think about it."