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K2 2009: American K2 Ski Expedition 2009:  Bottleneck Skied!

Copyright© Billy Pierson


Hello all, The expedition is over.  The team is in Skardu after the trek out over the Gondogoro La.  George, Dave and Ali are sorting and repacking gear in the summer heat.  Overall the expedition was very successful, all survived without serious injury.
This summer no one reached the summit of K2.  Dave made it the highest on the mountain during the Aug 4 summit push.  He and Mingma Sherpa fixed the bottleneck (finished by 9:30am), Louis R (Canada) led the traverse and Dave took over breaking trail with Vassily (Kazakh) belaying.  The snow was chest deep, unconsolidated sugar.  The slope angle was 45+ and progress was slowed to 20m per hour. At 2:30pm the choice was made to descend.  The climbers started down from above the bottleneck with a height of 8350-8400 reached.
Dave downclimbed the rock step below the serac into the bottleneck.  While clipped into the rope he took off his crampons and overboots, put on the skis, changed his frozen gloves, loaded the pack, adjusted the length of the ski poles, then dropped in.
He skied the bottleneck to the shoulder and then down to Camp4.  The team slept another night at camp4. It was a difficult night with 1 sleeping bag for 3 climbers and super cold temps at nearly 8000m. 
In the morning Dave skied to camp3 while George and Ali downclimbed and rapelled.  They all decended (rappel/downclimb) the Black Pyramid together to camp2.  The team packed up camp and rapelled the House Chimney.  Dave then skied from the base of the Chimney down to ABC while George and Ali downclimbed.  The team was in Base Camp that
While in base camp, the team regularly talked with Austrian speed climber Christian Stangl, who is a friend of Hans Kammerlander. 

Was this the first descent of the bottleneck?  Is there proof otherwise?

Earlier: Dave was on the attempt last night. He turned around but is very happy with his effort. he is coming down to Base camp and back home.

He got some skiing in , we will let him tell you the details...

Earlier: Hello EverestNews, The American K2 Ski Expedition is in base camp waiting for the projected weather window due to arrive Aug 1.  The team has spent the past few weeks acclimatizing by climbing up and down the route and stocking camps with food and gas. 

The original plan was to climb the Cesen route but with a large international team occupying the only tent spaces, the team has switched to the traditional Abruzzi Ridge route.  Dave is confident this route is also skiable, except for a couple of sections, the Black Pyramid and the House Chimney. 
Even with this winters heavy snowfall, the Cesen route has sections that have been scoured by wind and avalanches, making these sections unskiable.  Dave believes there would be the same amount of rapelling on the Abruzzi and the Cesen.  There is also a desire to climb the Abruzzi since it is the 100 yr anniversary of the Duke of Abruzzi's expedition to K2.
The guys are in good spirits and are very excited to start climbing.  The small number of climbers on K2 this summer have led to a tightly knit group that is excited to work together to establish the route to the summit.

Earlier: Kathmandu was a hectic 3 days.  Got stuff sorted out.  2 weeks notice to organize an expedition is not enough. This has been really stressful and tiring. We flew to Islamabad on the 25th, Skardu on the 27th.
Now in Skardu and getting the sat phone and laptop dialed in. There is a young guy here in Skardu, Fida Hussain who is very good with this tech stuff. Repacking so the loads are 25kg each, and most importantly- takin it easy. 
The weather is nice, still hot, but bearable.  I met up with Ibrahim Munna yesterday, awesome guy.  He will help out by keeping us fed for the duration of the 2 month trip.  Munna was a great friend and help to us last summer. I'm really stoked to have him around.
As I repack the ski bag I can't help but think of the accident last week that killed Michele Fait on the same slopes that I am about to ski down.  It's very sad and unfortunate that these things happen.  It is a serious reality check, thinking back to last summer on Broad Peak when my ski partner took a 500 m fall, I get into a very serious  and focused frame of mind.  I came here to ski this line and I am still excited to get on it, though the ultimate ski descents have the ultimate consequences. 
I know how insignificant I am compared to the power of this mountain, What ever this king of mountains tells me, I will obey, if it dosent feel right, I'll back off.  But, I really want to ride this hill, and I'm going to try really hard to send.
Tomorrow we will drive to Askole, 8-10 hours of rad jeep trails, rockcrawling, washed out slopes of scree and sand, precipitous drops to raging rivers, a really gnary drive.  We'll stay a night in Askole, decide on which porters to use to carry our gear and food.  I estimate hiring 30 people to carry the loads.  We are a 3 person team (including the cook Munna).
The trek to base camp is about 60 miles and will take 6 days with one day of rest.  This trek up the Baltoro is one of the most amazing mountain treks on Earth. Incredible mountain beauty.  Base camp is at 5000m (16,500ft).  From there we start the real fun- climbing K2. Dave

Earlier: This summer American climber and skier, Dave Watson will attempt to ski the S-SE spur of K2 in Pakistan.
Dave, a 2-time Everest summiter, is hoping to complete the project he started last summer.  In 2008, he travelled to Pakistan to ski K2, dangerous conditions prevented him from realizing his dream. 
Watson acclimatized on Broad Peak and skied from 7600 meters during the only usable weather window of the summer 08' season.  After helping with rescues of climbers on K2 , during that same weather window, Dave and his team remained the only people in base camp for another 4 weeks, hoping for decreased wind speeds on the upper mountain.  The winds never decreased to a safe level and the season ended.
Using skis from the Karhu ski company, weighing only 3.4 pounds, he hopes to ski from the summit of the 8611 meter, K2.  Conditions will detirmine if he will attempt to ski the exposed traverse under the serac as well as the top of the bottleneck.

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