21 February 2003


Late homecoming

In the base Camp. Photo - © Monika Rogozinska

The weather forecast is nasty - steady gales with only brief respites until the end of the month, and the very moment ofour scheduled breaking camp and beginning our return home.

The head of the expedition cannot change the weather, but he cannot give up the attempt to reach the summit of K2, either, having invested so much work in the preparation of the northern slope. What he can do, however, is to delay the expedition's homecoming.

That is just what he did today. The camel caravan will not take us from the Chinese base until March 8. What awaits us then is a hike through the mountains, trekking to Kashgar, and a ride through the Tien-Shan mountain range to Bishek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. From there, we are leaving on March 18, arriving the very same day in Poland via London. This is the faraway future, however.

Meanwhile, K2 is still in front of us. It awaits us in the fog and the blizzard. The climbers have established almost four kilometers of ropes on the northern slope, along with four camps equipped with sleeping bags, carrimats, cookers, food, first-aid kits and climbing equipment. The route has been secured up to 7,630m, which has taken the climbers 43 days of mountaineering efforts. After that, they had to descend to the base and wait passively for the hurricane frenzy that had broken out to calm down. Krzysztof Wielicki says that you cannot leave now without checking out if anything is left of the great effort put into this whole undertaking. The climbers are waiting below at the Chinese and intermediate base for the head of the expedition to summon them back to the upper base and further - onto the slope. Wielicki is so determined to finish the work that has been started that he even declared himself ready to stay with a small group of the strongest mountaineers, waiting as long as it is necessary for better conditions to attack the summit, and then to chase the rest of the expedition returning with the caravan. For the moment, as soon as the wind strength will allow continuing the climb, one has to find the answer to the most important question: have the camp tents survived? Is it impossible to start the expedition from the very beginning?


Krzysztof wants to use all chances in the expedition. The small group - he, Marcin and Denis - is going to try the summit push, if the weather will permit. The other small group is preparing to the reconnaissance and preparing camps... "Krzysztof and Marcin hadn't acclimatized, but they would be able to summit with oxygen," - wrote Denis Urubko.