Thursday, July 28, 2011
Karakoram 2011: Accident On Broad Peak
Earlier in the week we had reports of several successful summits on Broad Peak, despite the weather there not being the most advantageous for climbing. A few days later we also get word of tragedy on that mountain, as one of the climbers fell to his death while descending.
Climber Rob Springer, who is part of the Field Touring Alpine squad, posted news of the accident on his blog today. Rob is on BP to acclimatize before jumping over to K2, which is his ultimate goal this summer in the Karakoram. He reports that five members of their team were on a summit bid a few days back when Chinese climber Jeff Wai Hung Chung slipped and fell more than 500 feet before landing in a crevice. All attempts to reach the fallen climber failed, and in the end he succumbed to his injuries.
My condolences to Jeff's friends, family and teammates.
Rob also tells us that three of the climbers on the FTA team did actually summit during their bid to take advantage of the small weather window. They were Sophie Denis, Wim Smets, Andre Bredenkamp. On the way down however, they had issues of their own when one of them tore a muscle in their leg, greatly slowing their descent. As a result, it took them 27 hours to complete the round trip from High Camp to summit and back. Thanks to the combined effort of the team, they are all down safe and sound now however.
Rob believes that the weather window on Broad Peak is now closed for the season, saying that if teams didn't go up during the two-day break they had, they most likely aren't going to be able to do so now. He's getting ready to head to K2 himself, and after a bout of food poisoning, he is happy that he didn't burn too much energy on the BP climb.
As usual in the Karakoram this year, the weather will dictate who gets the opportunity to climb on any of the peaks. It's going to be dicey for the foreseeable future, and you don't want to take any chances on K2.