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JOURNAL - MARTIN'S SUMMIT ATTEMPT OF K2

This part of our website features "as-it-happens" diaries from our most exciting trips. These diaries will recount some of the more challenging personal trips of the owners (for example, Martin's summit attempt of K2 or Shisha Pangma), as well as selected company trips with our clients. Our experiences will be posted, and we hope to share with you a sense of our wonder as we explore the territory among the islands of the Adriatic Sea, on "the other side" of Italy.

1. WE ARRIVED TO ISLAMABAD; 02.06.2003 17:59:0

We arrived to Islamabad early morning after overnight flight from Prague via Rome and Dubaj. Everything is OK. People seem to be very friendly - of course guys only. It is hard to spot woman on the street.

We rested some and had lunch with wine imported in our bags. Met with our L.O. - Osman who will keep us company for the next two months.

Cargo is safe in our hotel room, we need to get some formalities handled tomorrow and we will fly to Scardu on Wednesday morning.

Everything is fine except heat. It is at least 38 C in shade, except there is no shade :)

- Martin Minarik


2. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, 2003; 13:00:00 (see photos: Rock slide on the road Scardu-Askole, A local electrician/ Scardu, Children of Blatistan /Askole)

Considering how afraid I was before my very first trip to Pakistan, I am very pleasantly surprised. The streets in Islamabad / Rawalpindi are much cleaner than those of Kathmandu and thinking about total corruption in Nepali kingdom in these days, services work here without error. We spent less than 48 hours in Islamabad, all luggage arrived without damage, meetings with people at Ministry of Tourism and Aviatian Agency went smooth and without delay. Unlike in Nepal, one does not have to bribe anyone. We spent very pleasant evening with Czech Ambassador Mr. Petr Pribik and his wife Natalie. They invited us for dinner.

This morning, we left at 9am for Scardu. What normally takes 2 days of rough ride on Karakoram Highway took us only little more than one hour by plane. Landing in the deep valley between big mountains was pretty exciting. Our luggage should make it here tonight and hopefully we leave tomorrow further up along the river - to Askole.

Back in Islamabad, we met Italian group which is going to climb Nanga Parbat as well as Spanish group which is going to climb Gashebrum II. We also met young Canadian woman who is going to hike in Karakoram. But here in our hotel K2 in Scardu, there is noone else except us. Rumors are. safety issues obviously keep many people out of here. Glad we did not listen to those. Now we can enjoy watching slow moving Indus river from the terrace of our hotel. Shade from cherry trees adds to complete comfort.

- Martin Minarik (top of the page)


3. JUNE 9, 2003; 12:04:00

We are in Payu, a camp only one hour away from the foot of Baltoro Glacier and 3 days away from K2 Base Camp. Every expedition or trekking group stop here and spend the day. Porters use the time to bake bread, eventually chopp the goat and prepare meat for five difficult days on the glacier. We used the time to shave our heads - a ritual which is part of every our expedition.

This morning, I met with Ms. Aisha Khan, a founder and director of MGPO. Mountain and Glacier Protection Organization is non profit foundation, three years in business which took seriously the job of cleaning the mountain areas ( I have heard about many "cleaning expeditions" who just tried to get money to get to the top of their mountain).

The very first project - building toilets has been done by Montana Foundation Central Asia Institute, run by Greg Mortensen. Having 35 000 people walking up and down Baltoro Glacier annually, the old toilets were for long time not enough.

MGPO is Pakistani organization and Ms. Khan is personally involved - she is in charge of about 200 soldiers, kindly provided for this purpose by Pakistani Army, who are building trails, platforms for tents, toilets, tanks for drinking water and especially planting the trees which provide so much needed shade. They plan to build similar camps - all equipped with lights powered by solar energy - up towards Concordia as well as on the other side of Gondorola Pass. Then they plan to move under Nanga Parbat. I am sure these camps will be greatly appreciated by anyone, climber or trekker coming this way.

MGPO seems to know what they are doing and Ms. Khan has to be extraordinary personality - a civilian lady, who is giving orders to couple hundred men, this seems to be story from maybe Scandinavian country but certainly not from Pakistan.

For those who would be more interested in these projects, here is the address.

Ms. Aisha Khan
MGPO
House # 138
Street 60, Sector 1-8/3
Islamabad
Pakistan
email : mgpo_pk@yahoo.com

- Martin Minarik (top of the page)


4. THE QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAINS - JUNE 13, 2003; 15:10:00 (see photos: K2 from Base Camp, Chogolisa from Base Camp, Broad Peak from Base Camp)

This morning, for the first time in my life, I have seen K2 live. No doubt this is the most beautiful mountain of the world, Her Majesty The Queen.

This is also the first day of true rest as we made it to Base Camp at about 5000m yesterday late afternoon. Last three days were not easy, long walks on Baltoro Glacier in changing weather. It got cold and snowing, porters went on short strike below Concordia, then to another one yesterday morning. It was snowing heavily and they were cold. The shoes they are provided by the company might be good enough to walk on the beach but not on the glacier above 4000m. Most of the porters are from Baltistan, some of them are from Hunza valley. They are not allowed to drink any alcohol, but they do smoke interesting stuff :)

Eventually sun showed up and all of them except five or six made it in 5 hours to the Base Camp. On the way up, I stopped at Base Camp under Broad Peak for cup of tea with the group of 3 Swiss. They plan to climb North Face of Broad Peak and traverse to the main summit. There is no one else under Broad Peak so far. Further up, we met Canadian fellow along with two Austrians dragging their cook - assistant to lower altitude. He got sick and this is the only way to save his life.

Here, in the Base Camp under K2, there are two other groups. There are 8 Spanish, the group of already mentioned Austrians, one French and one French - Canadian, all together 4 of them. It makes 15 with us. Other expeditions are coming later which is good for us, the mountain will not be crowded right away and when we get acclimatized we will be able to move fast and choose between K2 and Broad Peak.

I have heard there were 48 expeditions on south side of Mt. Everest this spring. I am very glad K2 is the mountain which is left for climbers. Unlike Mt. Everest, this mountain is way too hard for mountain tourists. I wonder what Fritz Wiessner would say about the circus around Everest. He climbed K2 in 1939 with hand full of Sherpas, he was chopping the steps into the ice for them ! He did not make the summit by a couple hundred meters and only because he did not want to leave his Sherpa by himself. He did not use oxygen nor the radios. What a difference in style comparing to armies of Sherpas and unlimited amount of oxygen bottles on Everest in these days !

There are no high altitude porters under K2 this year and I have not seen any oxygen bottle by the tents of the other expeditions. We are looking forward to great climb !

- Martin Minarik (top of the page)


5. JUNE 14, 2003; 16:08:00 (see photo: Rest on Baltoro Glacier)

Another great day on Baltoro Glacier. We got up before 5am and left with heavy loads towards the foot of our ridge. We plan to climb Abruzzi Ridge. Within two hours of bathing in the sun, we reached the spot where we set up the tent. Some people call it ABC ( Advanced Base Camp), we call it depo where we store stuff for high camps. This place can be reached even in case of bad weather so we can keep suplies bringing in. We realize we have to start from BC much earlier - not later than 4pm because the sun becomes unbearable shortly after sunrise.

Tomorrow, we plan to leave early and reach about 6000m where we will establish Camp 1. Day after tomorrow, depends on weather and our level of acclimatization, we might try to reach 6800m where Camp 2 will be established.

Yesterday, we also set up our solar system, so we have power for music, batteries, phone and computer. We depend on sun entirely, no diesel or gas for making energy. And of course, no altitude porters and no artificial oxygen for climbing this grand mountain.

- Martin Minarik (top of the page)


6. JUNE 17, 2003; 06:30:00

Our Snow God likes us. At least so far - K2 is showing us its better face. Weather is almost perfect, too sunny. It is morning of June 17, 03 here in BC under K2. Two days ago, we went up to 6000m where we established Camp 1. Original plan to go straight up to establish Camp 2 was too ambitious. We have to be very cautious and very well acclimatized. This climb is no joke. Climbing starts with step A, some parts are secured by fixed ropes, some are not. It means that one stupid mistake would be the last one. But I believe we are a good team and we will not make any mistake. Radek and me are on the third expedition together, last year in May, we were standing on the mountain which is only 13 meters lower than this one. Miska and Radek climbed on K2 two years ago. I did not know Miska before this trip but we are getting along very well. He knows how to play chess ! And he plays it well. In chess - the same like in climbing, compatibility is winner and ticket to enjoyment.

We pitched our tent near the tents of Spanish group. Three Spaniards established the route under the House's Chimney - one of them crux of the lower part of the south-east face. There are lots of old fixed ropes from previous years but each needs to be carefully checked. We are still bringing our own ropes for more difficult parts. I was warned about the small spots for the tents. I did not quite know how small these will be. Eagle's nest is appropriate term. Each platform has to be chopped in the ice which is lots of work in this altitude. And it is not going to get any easier higher up.

Today, we are spending the day, resting, listening to music and making plans and strategy. Weather seems to hold up and we are planning to return to the mountain tomorow, hopefully to establish Camp 2 and bring the load for higher camps. Thanks to our cook Fida ( Peter), his brother in law Muhammad as well as liasson officer, captain Muhammad Usman, our stay in BC is pleasant. Family traggedies are following us however. Fida - our cook lost his wife last year in the spring and while he is cooking for us, his old mother is taking care of his five children. On the other side, Radek's father got terminally ill this spring. Not any more. He passed away few days after we left for Pakistan, seems like he was just waiting for Radek to leave.

Hopefully luck will be on our side from now on.

- Martin Minarik (top of the page)


7. K2 IS SHOWING HER TEETH; 20.06.2003 15:41:00 (see photo: K2-Camp 1)

The weather forced us to return to BC again. On June 18, we went up to Camp 1, this time much faster then the first time. In our depo at 6am, we spotted a fellow with cigarette - a French climber. If all climbers are crazy from 40%, this guy is nuts at least from 80%. Early in the week, we met him with huge backpack on the glacier baking in the sun. Then he came down, then he went up to depo, spent the night there, walked up without pack half way to Camp 1. His climbing style is very mysterious.

In Camp 1, we met three Spanish climbers, two of them injured from the fall. Day before, they went to establish Camp 2 and on the way back, old fixed ropes broke several times. Twice, they had to stop the fall on about 55' slope. They were able to descent without our assistance. Later they were met by their fellow Spanish climbers who got them to BC. At least for couple of weeks, they are out of game.

In the afternoon of the same day, we carried up load towards Camp 2. There is mixed terrain, snow fields, ice slopes and rock. Fierce wind and low temperature of about minus 17 C forced us to return to Camp 1 after 300 vertical meters. Some old fixed ropes are bad and we put in our ones from Lanex Bolatice. Most of the ropes from the past come from Korean expedition from 2 years ago. Koreans are famous for bringing the cheapest ropes, we noticed this fact last year on Kangchenjunga. Towards the end of our expedition, they were packing our Lanex Bolatice ropes with them and taking them away ! We may see them on Broad Peak - Koreans are coming !

Today, we are resting in BC, looking at the high clouds and waiting for weather forecast. We would like to go back and establish our Camp 2 - finally. Another Spanish expedition arrived yesterday - 4 climbers (listed under our permit). One of them is 64 years old ! In our mid -30th, we are still "Himalayan bunnies".

- Martin Minarik (top of the page)


8. JUNE 23, 2003; 06:40:00 (see photo: Just another storm)

There is big chess championship. Actually, only Miska nad I participate in never ending chess game. I am winning so far. So, you probably understand that we are again in Base Camp. Two days ago, we were planning weekend climbing trip into Camp 2, at least. We made it to Camp 1 ( third time within 5 days) and little bit higher towards our previous depo above Camp 1. At the same place, we were forced to turn around, leaving a few more kg of load. On the same day in the evening, we were back at Base Camp.

Weather will be bad for at least two more days which means more chess, music, laundry, eating and drinking.

We are being frequently visited by French climber. Yesterday, couple of Swiss from Broad Peak BC stopped by and brought us a good Swiss chocolate. Another Swiss expedition ( Kobler's commercial exp.) should show up today or tomorrow. To our advantage, most of our supplies for all camps are in our Camp 1 which means we will not have to wait for the line at the base of the mountain. We need 3 good days to be able to establish Camp 2 and 3, then rest a bit and then hopefully first summit attempt.

But right now, there is just another round of chess.

Cheers, Martin (top of the page)


9. Garbage on K2; 06/29/2003 07:15:00

Thanks to the great weather forecast, we were able to establish Camp 2. We left on June 25, early in the morning as usually. Near our depo, we met again French Marlboro Man smoking and packing for Camp 1. We left at the same time but he gave up halfway and returned to BC. We cooked for couple hours in Camp 1 and kept going up towards our depo II about 200meters above Camp 1. We repacked there and in good weather - probably best day so far - climbed the Black Tower, House's Chimney and other features towards the ridge. From there it is only about 45 minutes to the site of Camp 2.

What we saw there is beyond imagination. Spot for Camp 2 on Abruzzi Ridge is the filthiest spot in the mountains I have ever seen. Generations of remains of old tents frozen solid on the top of each other. One should be afraid to dig in - I am sure this is cemetary for some people, too. But it is not all. I can understand people leave the tent which is destroyed and frozen in on this windy corner. But most trash left here carries the trade mark Made in Korea and Made in China. Korean ( or Chinese) books ( perhaps memoirs of Kim Ir Sen, Mao or another asshole ?), cooking pots, showels, 25kg cooking - gas container and many other items which would be easy to either bury, burn or carry down, especially with the units of Sherpas who follow every Asian expedition.

We found another interesting pile of junk. Stock of many unused oxygen bottles with English note - please leave this untouched, expedition in 2002 wants to use it in 2004 or 2005. Someone is very stupid by trying to make his or her private backyard on the arm of K2. There are Hunza porters which came with Swiss expedition over here. This will be bounty for them when they sell it in Scardu. And Oxygen People will find it harder next time and they will be one step further from destroying K2 the same way they screwed up Everest.

Fortunately for us, there was only one tent pitched in by Spanish and we were able to find a half descent spot for our tent. We spent the night there and made another trip to our depo for the rest of the load. Now, we have supplies for Camp 3 in this Camp and supplies for Camp 4 in our Camp 1. Weather, as predicted, was getting worse in the afternoon and we decided - instead of another night in Camp 2 - to return to our BC. Hungry and thirsty, we reached the safety of BC at 6pm.

This morning, we were visited by Greek climbers from Athens - one of them speaking Czech (he grew up in Jeseniky mountains, Czech Republic). They are part of international expedition from under Broad Peak. Our l.o. left for Scardu with sick porter from another expedition which means that noone will give us crap for cooking pork. Life is good.

- Martin Minarik (top of the page)


10. June 30, 2003; 06:45:27

Yesterday, we celebrated Petr's Name Day. It was a simple celebration as there is shortage of brandy. But brandy is not the only thing which is missing. Today, Radek and Miska went to Broad Peak BC to visit friends and I went through food inventory provided for us. What I found is not very pleasant. There is shortage of basically everything except peanut butter ( which we do not eat anyway ) and if we do not have our own stock of food, we would not be happy campers. There is rumor of a cow walking up towards Concordia which got injured and got stuck somewhere half way ( this rumor is going around every expedition). Well, we will be climbing for a few days and hopefully the cow - or at least the milk from the cow will make it here. Important rule : bring your own food, if you travel to Himalaya. Even the travel companies have the best intentions, there are many hungry folks along the way ( porters, soldiers etc.) and what smells like food and is not locked - it is gone.

It looks like we are complaining but it is not really true. The weather has improved and we are heading tomorrow early morning up again. This time - with intention of establishing Camp 3, spending the night there and to get ready for the next hopefully the last journey up to the summit. Soon we will be deciding which mountain to scale first. Broad Peak is smaller and we need shorter period of good weather than for K2. K2 is however the main objective and we would be very happy to leave with the summit of K2 rather then Broak Peak.

But for right now, we will be climbing Black Pyramid at 7000m.

Happy Day. Martin (top of the page)


11. Lots of work and no result; 07/08/2003 06:40:0

According to weather forecast, July 1, 2 and 3 were supposed to be nice days. We left at 4am flat on July 1. It was snowing and we met Spanish granpa ( 64 years old Carlos) turning around right at the beginning of the glacier. I think they made right decision. We were hoping the weather will improve. It did not. Trail was broken to Camp 1 by couple Canadians but that is about all. We continued to Camp 2 in the fresh snow up to the knees. On July 2, weather was good - but only up to Camp 1. In 5 hours in blizzard, we made slight progress up to 7000m, then returned to Camp 2 for second night. On July 3, weather finally got better but we got only 50m higher then previous day. We returned to BC on the same day.

It means that we did not reach the spot for Camp 3 at about 7300m and only left another depo half way up. Naturally we are dissapointed even we are the only team which made any progress above Camp 2 so far. Climbing above Camp 2 is difficult. Way more than below Camp 2. It is either steep rocky ridge or up to the waist ( one spot up to the arms) in endless dust snow. Some old fixed ropes are usable but only after tough effort pulling them out of snow and ice. We cut our 100m LANEX 6mm rope and placed it into the four steepest sections.

So much effort and so little progress. It reminds me Kanchenjunga last spring. There were only hours, not days when we could talk about nice weather.

Back in BC, our cook managed to get some food from other expeditions (cow did not make it yet). According to ATP managers, our food had to be stolen or sold. I am glad we made the inventory, otherwise we would be just eating our stuff and someone would be laughing how stupid we are.

We are not planning to be back on K2 for couple weeks at least. From Tuesday on, the weather is supposed to get better again and we will try to walk up Broad Peak. Sad news. The Swiss expedition from under Broad Peak is leaving tomorrow. Jean Triollet, Professor of Climbing Arts (this is how his boys are calling him) has problem with blood circulation in his foot and decided to abandon the climb. If I would like to have a companion on the way up to Broad Peak, from all the expeditions it would be this group of three mountain guides from Swiss Alps.

Rather than that it seems like we will share this mountain with our "old Korean friend from last year Kangchenjunga" - Mr. Hun & comp. As soon as we arrived to Islamabad, we learned that this group is in Karakoram as well, climbing GII and finishing Broad Peak as the last of the 14th 8000m peak. Yesterday and today, we have been wathing by binoculars the effort of couple Sherpas and Mr. Hun to make it up. Mr. Hun even said that chopper is coming to pick him up for huge party. Watching them high on the mountain, we were more afraid the helicopter will have to bring black plastic bag for him as the weather is definitely not for making it to the top today. A few minutes ago, they turned around as the weather is for sure closing in and they realized it, too. Time to rest, read the book and play chess.

- Martin Minarik (top of the page)


12. Weather is playing with us like with the toy; 07/14/2003 06:07:03

On Tuesday, we left for Broad Peak fully loaded. Radek estimated 40 minutes to the beginning of the climb and so we made it in 2 hours and 40 minutes flat. It looks close but it is a bit further from our BC. We crossed awfully looking snow bridge - bergshrung. In marginal weather, we made it pretty easily to Camp 2 and set up the tent. The plan was to go up the next morning, however after overnight storm with quite a bit of fresh snow, we changed our minds and within 3 hours, made it back to our BC.

Looks like it was good desicion. Yesterday, it has been snowing the whole day. This morning, the sun showed up, our barelly working solar panels got some kick so we can generate some energy.

Broad Peak is busy this morning with lots of people going up. We might go tomorrow. Weather forecast is completely unpredictable, there are three or four sources around and each failed in the last couple of days.

Right now, we are watching avalanches from surrounding mountains.

- Martin Minarik (top of the page)


13. When the shit hits the fen...; 07/14/2003 15:53:40

I think the only positive news is that Kazach team arrived to K2 BC and the climbing will start again because of forecast of better weather.

We left our BC on July 10 at 6pm. Made it to Camp 2 on Broad Peak before midnight. Packed the tent and left for Camp 3 at 9am on July 11 and made it to Camp 3 around 4pm. Slept for 2 hours, then made brew and left 10:45pm the same day. The night was clear and our spirit was high. Koreans have established the Camp 4 the afternoon before and we saw the lights and knew they were up for the summit. We met Greeks and it looked like a nice social event climbing the mountain all together.

Radek and me went ahead and soon we lost the Greeks along with Miska, they all returned to the tents. Then we lost the trail. The wind covered Korean tracks and we were sinking up to our buts in the dust snow. I decided to wait till dawn, just to sit in the snow. It was about 2:30am and Radek followed me very soon as well. Thanks for lack of the sleep from two previous nights, we felt asleep easily. It could be about minus 25C but thanks to the excelent down jacket Sport Schwarzkopf, it was not a problem ( by the way, this down jacket serves as my sleeping bag, I do no care to carry the regular sleeping bag into the high camps any more).

By 4am, Radek found he has slightly frostbitten feet but still managed to make it with me to Korean Camp 4. Koreans were not in and we got in to get warm. We also saw Miska is following our track from Camp 3. Koreans showed up within an hour, saying they did not make it to the top because it is very, very cold higher up. This camp is only about 600m below the summit, we were tired after two nights push and it was windy and cold.

Radek decided to go down, Miska followed him. I was so upset about all the work we have done so far so I decided to try for the summit. Korean track was gone right away and I had to break my own. But the sun was on and despite the wind, it was warm. Of course this is relative speaking, we are talking about altitude 7600m, and a person who is dressed in five pair of layers including bullet - proof down jacket, down pants, down mittens, ski gogles etc. But the sun gives enough warmth that one can slowly move up.

The route goes into the little col with the passage not bigger than the outhouse door. The wind was blowing into my back and as I was getting closer to the "door" it was blowing. The col is about 7800m. Right before, I even changed my warming bags in my boots - to be fully ready for tough last 2 hours which I estimated to be left for the summit. To my sad surprise, it was not only windy and cold as I reached the col, I was ready for that. But on the other side of the mountain, visible from west side, there was another cloud and it was snowing badly from this one. And at the same time, all clouds went up and the mountain showed only time to time. I continued on the snow ridge, hoping the weather will settle. It did - to worse. After another 45 minutes, I decided to turn around. It was noon and I was alone on the ridge almost 7900m high. Giving the conditions, this would be my last climb.

It was snowing the whole way down the mountain and on the top of this, Basque team passed me the news from Radek and Miska. Our tent, aparently set up on the wrong spot and poorly tight in, has been blown to the void ( back in BC, the guys told me they saw it happen and they even know the crevasse - and we might try to retrieve our gear from it). It does not make a sence to write what all we lost, most important, we did not loose the spirit to climb even Bruce Springsteen music and remains of brandy is giving us some uplift.

The weather is supossed to settle shortly and we will be most likely back on the mountain in couple of days.

- Martin Minarik (top of the page)


14. Good Friday on Baltoro Glacier; 07/20/2003 20:08:07 (see photos: Broad Peak-summit day at 3am with sunrise over K2, Broad Peak - final ridge towards the main summit, K2, Last steps towards the summit - Broad Peak, Everyone on the top of Broad Peak, July 18, 03, noon)

On July 18, 03 shortly before noon, three of us, Radek Jaros, Petr Masek and Martin Minarik hugged each other at the very top of Mt. Broad Peak, 8047m above sea level.

It was almost 10 hours since we left Camp 3 at 7080m. There were many others who left this camp in the middle of the night, but only Kazach Denis Urubko and two other Spanish men made it along with us, the others turned around.

We are safely back in Base Camp now, it is July 20, 03 and the weather is finally good.

More coming soon.

- Martin Minarík (top of the page)


15. How did it go on Broad Peak July 16-18 2003

On July 14, 03 Broad Peak opened up. After two years, people reached the summit of this mountain again. There were 9 of them who made it to the top. Korean Hun with his army of Sherpas, Spanish, French, Italian as well as American. At that time we were resting in BC, waiting for our turn.

We left our BC at 5am on July 16, 03 knowing there is strong team of Kazachs ahead of us as well as people from Carlos ( granpa from Madrid) group and mixed bag of climbers from all over ( international expedition). Thanks to our mistake from previous attempt when we lost the tent with all belongings, we had to drag the heavy bags up the hill again. By noon, we reached Camp 2 and set up our tent a bit higher on little ledge.

On July 17, 03 We left late since the morning was windy with dusty snow. We met half of Kazach team returning from the summit, learned about the night rescue performed by Visteurs and Urubko, met Korean Hun retiring to his oxygen glory ( he left only 2 empty oxygen bottles by Camp 4 this time !!!) and met with other people going up or down. It was busy day since may people expected good weather. This time, we made the Camp 3 a bit higher at the spot which is better protected from the wind.

On July 18, shortly after midnight, we had an interesting visit in out tent. Spanish girl showed up and cooked breakfast right by me ( I did not speak with woman since I came to Pakistan almost two months ago). Cooking before summit attempt is extremely unpleasant and she sure made me company. She spent the night in the tent of Denis Urubko who badly needed some sleep after the previous night rescue. Catalena ( her name) asked Americans first to let her cook in their tent - they refused and so she saw the light on in our tent. So she came. Unfortunately, on her summit attempt, she turned around after couple hours of climbing, I am sure that is because she did not have any coffein in her early morning capuccino ( she badly complained about that:).

We left at 1:30am, full moon was gone and we needed light time to time. By 6am, we reached spot of Camp 4 and found another half of Kazachs. By this time, Denis Urubko passed everyone ( complaining of no sleep and being tired). About two thirds of the people who started from Camp 3, turned around. Unfortunately, Madrid grandpa Carlos turned around as well. He did not take along his down pants and it was a bit cold here at 7500m. I was very sorry to see this. From Camp 3, he sent down his porter and of course there is not even an option he would ever touch oxygen bottle. I know many old farts in his age who are just doing nothing and waiting for deatch to come, guy of his type has a good chance he will one day die with his boots on - he has my full respect!

By 7am, there are only six of us on the slope leading to the col between two summits of Broad Peak. Up ahead, there is Denis Urubko. This wild horse from Kazach prairies seems to have unlimited amount of energy. He is running and even we are not slow, we have no chance to keep up with him. Climbing in Himalaya in these days is like going to the same bar. One sees the same old faces all the time. Denis and me met 20 meters from the summit of Kangchenjunga last year in May. If everything goes well, we will climb K2 together in couple of weeks...and many more mountains in the future.

Spanish fellow Chorche, Radek, me Miska and another Spanish climber are slowly eating step by step. Up on the col, temperature is going up thanks to the sun. All of us are leaving the packs on the ridge and each of us by his own pace is climbing the long and jagged ridge towards the summit. I think everyone underestimates the lenghts and difficulty of this final leg on Broad Peak. The main summit of Broad Peak is somewhere near the cease fire line with India - at least it looks like that. It is long, very long and next time I would not start the summit attempt from Camp 3. But every struggle is over once and so we are meeting at the summit of Broad Peak shortly before noon - all three of us. It is windy and cold and we are staying little more than half an hour. Since Josef Rakoncaj climbed Broad Peak in 1986, this mountain was bringing to Czech climbers just bad luck. Two dead and couple unsuccesfull attempts. We broke the circle.

For Petr Masek, this is his first 8000m peak. For Radek and me, this is first time we are together at the summit even this is our third expedition together. And for me, after four expeditions, this is first time when everyone from the group made it to the top and we are all meeting up there. A very special moment !!!

For two hours we retracked our steps back to the col and after another two hours or so, we all met again in Camp 3. We spent another night over there and reached the safety of Base Camp on July 19, 03 right before dinner. We were greeted by our staff as well as the staff of other teams. Locals seems to be very happy when climbers return happy and safely from the mountains.

We are in Base Camp. Our technical equipment is falling apart, it is time to climb the other mountain and go home.

- Martin (top of the page)


16. July 29, 2003; 19:59:57 (see photos: K2-Black Tower, On the ridge between Camp 2 and 3 -K2, Bad weather and difficult climbing - that is K2!)

Everyone is back in BC. The weather forecast failed completely. Gejza Haak - the legend among Slovak mountain guides told me once in the Tatras : Do not trust meteorologists and women. There is always a chance to learn....

After 5 days of nice and stable weather which everyone need for rest, we left for the mountain and the clouds arrived. We made it to Camp 2, spent couple nights there, then up to Camp 3 where we also spent two nights. The amount of snow accumulated in the last 24 hours however made our stay in this camp very dangerous. We were forced to turn around and descent along with Kazachs who were waiting in Camp 3 as well. The other part of Kazach team spent three nights on the Shoulder at almost 8000m, tried for the summit and came down this morning. It will take at least 3-4 days till the snow consolidates a bit.

Swiss group left yesterday, Carlos group is leaving tomorrow and the group from Andalusia is leaving day after tomorrow. Who is staying ? Hard core, those who are either hopefull enough or those who have been here before and do not want to come back again ( some of them are here third time !). Kazachs are staying, there is one Basque and one Italian, there is also one French Canadian and Austrian but those two are not quite sure what to do. And there are us, three Czechs and we do not want to give up the fight either.

- Martin Minarik (top of the page)


17. August 2, 2003; 13:29:2

This might be the last dispatch from the expedition. It is not because we would not be planning to come back to Base Camp but because our fellow climbers from Montreal, Canada ( Claude & Chic ) are leaving within a couple of days. Since the time we lost our phone on Broad Peak and since the time our solar panels stopped working, we completely depended on their generous help. At least this way, I would like to say THANK YOU MY FRIENDS.

I am sorry they have to go, their time expired, their porters are supposed to come within a day or two. In emergency situation, we will ask Kazach team for help but their phone system is different then ours and we will not have access to our email any longer.

High wind arrived to K2 and we made a good choice not to go up even the sun of the last two days was very inviting. According to the weather forecast ( which I do not give a damn anyway), it is supposed to snow within the next 3 days. We made the choice to wait and seriously try for the summit with the Kazach team. Kazachs and one fellow from Basque country are the only people left here except us.

We promise to let everyone know if we make it to the top, not make it or leave without attempt. But it might easily take two weeks from now.

In the meantime, we are asking for patience. Our silence is caused by technical problems.

At the same time, we really do not wish anyone trying to find out what we are up to and or assuming what we are doing and posting such a rumours on any Web Site which is accesible by public ( such a thing happened on couple occasions in the last weeks). Please understand that noone except us know exactly what is happenning on K2 with us ( even the other expeditions) and we do want and will describe the situation precisely when we are back in the safety of Base Camp on Godwin Austen.

Thank you for considering this issue.

- Martin Minarik (top of the page)


18. August 21, 03 - Back home

Regards to all after some time of silence.

In a few words, we are safely back in Czech Republic - but we did not climb to the top of K2.

Sad, angry or happy and satisfied ? A bit of everything.

K2 is the mountain which is not supposed to be easy. We knew it and we knew that longer we stay in Base Camp, smaller the chance there is.

Team by team, people were leaving K2 and only Kazachs and us stayed. Weather was supposed to get a bit better. Kazachs left on August 5 for Camp 1, I followed them on August 6 and we met in Camp 2. Radek and Miska met us on August 8 in Camp 3. By then we all realized it is over. The snow above Camp 3 was not blown away by the previous storm as we hoped. We were sinking into the bottomless powder, perhaps great for skiing but very dangerous for climbing.

So at the end, it was not the weather but idiot deep powder which stopped our final attempt. There was nothing we could possible do except to turn around.

K2 did not let anyone to its top. In a fact, it did not let one fellow to come down either. Another plate with the name of German climber, a member of Swiss expedition and date July 22, 03 has been added to Gilkey Memorial.

Under the mountain, close to the Base Camp, Kazachs found the body of Renato Casarotto, one of the greatest solo climber who died in crevasse fall within short distance of Base Camp in 1986. Kazachs brought the remains under the Gilkey Memorial and burried them over there.

We left BC on August 12, exactly two months since we came here. The walk out was as fast as it could possibly be. By August 15, we reached Scardu and two days later, we were in Islamabad.

K2 is left untouched for the second year in the row. But people who realize the overhelming power and beauty of this mountain do return again and again. Have no doubt we are one of those.

Good bye and see you soon.

- Martin (top of the page)


For more information go to http://www.radekjaros.cz/k2/en/.