Sunday 4 August 2013

Trying and failing to acclimatize

We’ve spent the last few days trying but failing to get acclimatized around the Charakusa Valley.  It's quite frustrating that we’ve been in the valley for nearly a week now and the highest we’ve been is only 4900m.

After our wander around the Charakusa Glacier, the next day we scrambled up the lower slopes of Fati Brakk to get some height and have a proper look at the NW face of K6 West. Now the big news from the Charakusa this year is that our Canadian friends Raphael Slawinski and Ian Welstad have made an awesome ascent of the NW face of K6 West to the summit. I checked with them they were alright with me mentioning this but I’m not going to give any details as that is their story to tell.  Needless to say it is a very impressive ascent from two really nice guys and it’s great to have their company in base camp for a few days before they leave.

Scrambling up the lower slopes of Fati Brakk with K6, K6 West and Kapura Peak in the back ground (photo – Jon Griffith)

K6 West had been one of our objectives but the two lines we had in mind are, on closer inspection just too threatened from seracs this year for either Jon or myself to consider them. The only relatively safe line up the face is the line the Canadians took so we are going to concentrate on getting acclimatized for Link Sar, but you never know things can change in the mountains quite fast…
Looking across at Link Sar, 7,041m. The actual summit is the big thumb of granite under the arrow, a long way back.

After a forced rest day, a shame to waste a sunny day but our bodies felt like they needed it, to continue our acclimatization we headed up to the base of Sulu Peak to bivi then climb it and spend two nights on the summit to help acclimatize. Unfortunately it couldn’t have gone anymore not to plan! We arrived at the base to discover we couldn’t get the stove to work, after an hour of trying everything and dismantling the stove we found the one gas canister we had brought was dodgy, so that was that.  Muesli for dinner and head back down to the valley in the morning just in time for a big breakfast courtesy of Ali and Ali. Through the night it pissed it down (heavy rain at 4,750m???), didn’t freeze up high which lead to loads of rock fall so I think we’d have been coming down anyway. So we spent yesterday hanging out in base camp watching movies and listening to the heavy rain outside.
Sulu Peak, 5,950m

Setting up camp below Sulu Peak (Photo – Jon Griffith)

It does seem to be raining quite high, something that is very different to my experiences in Nepal where it always snows if you get any precipitation even at base camp.  It does mean rest days are nice and warm though. Unfortunately the high snow line isn’t ideal and is stripping a lot of the faces lower down, Raphael is pretty sure some of the pitches they climbed as ice have disappeared on K6 already.  Not the end of the world, but not ideal.
An evening storm clears of K6 West

The weather is meant to be clearing so hopefully we’ll head back up to Sulu peak later this afternoon and start to get better acclimatized.

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