KARACHI: It proved to be a good Friday for British-American Vanessa O Brien and a host of other mountaineers as they claimed to have conquered the ‘Savage Mountain’, K2.
It followed a good week which also saw summits on other 8,000 metre peaks in Pakistan including at neighbouring Broad Peak.
O’Brien and her team had arrived in Islamabad last month for a bid to summit the world’s second highest mountain.
For the British-American, reaching the summit has added meaning beyond just the climbing a mountain which has twice thwarted her summit attempts in successive years – during which time no one managed to summit K2. A summit would make her the first American woman to summit the mountain while a subsequent descent would make her the first British woman to summit K2 and descend.
Her global positioning system tracker showed that she reached the summit on Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Icelandic John Snorri Sigurjónsson, part of O’Brien’s group, became the first man from the Nordic country to summit K2. His tracker too showed that he had summited at around the same time as O’Brien.
The summits came after a spell of unstable weather and heavy snow on the mountain.
Mingma Sherpa, who was leading the group, stated on his Facebook page that apart from O’Brien and Sigurjónsson, Chinese climbers Zhang Liang, Jing Xue, Azong had also made it to the summit with Dawa Gyalje Sherpa, Tsering Pemba Sherpa, Nima Tshering Sherpa, Lakpa Nuru Sherpa, Nima Nuru Sherpa, Ang Tsering Sherpa.
“We 12 people to reach the summit within an hour,” Mingma wrote.
Separately, Polish skier and climber Andrzej Bargiel is also on the mountain. After having skied down from the summit of Broad Peak in 2015, Bargiel is back, this time hoping to ski down from the summit of K2. But that attempt was up in the air per last reports.
“After a couple days with bad weather, snowfalls and no visibility, the sun has finally come out today. There is a little ‘window’ but according to various forecasts, the weather will change again in the evening. There is simply not enough time to think about a summit attack. We have to patiently wait for conditions to improve,” he posted on his Instagram page on Thursday.
On Broad Peak, Spanish climber Oscar Cadiach reached the summit on Thursday. It thus completes his quest of climbing all of the 14 mountains higher than 8,000 metres without supplemental oxygen.
He was joined by Turkish photographer and climber Tunç Fındık and two Pakistani climbers Mohammad Ali ‘Sadpara’ and Mohammad Yousaf.
Separately, Norwegian Kari Røstad summited Broad Peak, becoming the first Norwegian woman to do so.
She was followed by Pakistanis Ali Reza and Ameen Ullah Baig, the latter who reportedly completed his conquest of the five Pakistani mountains taller than 8,000 metres (K2, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum II).
Summit claim verifications
Meanwhile, officials have suggested that they are becoming more careful in verifying summit claims after a spate of false claims recently.
“There have been a few false [summit] claims, so now we have become strict [on certifying summits],” said Karrar Haidri of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, the central body which provides climbing permits and certifies summits.
He said unless climbers return and prove their summit and the claim is cross checked with the assigned liaison officer, would the summits be confirmed.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2017.