Summer 2023 brought a whirlwind of unexpected changes to my plans. Initially, I had set my sights on conquering Nanga Parbat and seeing where the journey would take me from there. Climbing K2 had been a long-held dream of mine, but I wasn't sure if I could manage the necessary training and fundraising for all three peaks. As fate would have it, I found myself facing the challenge of tackling all three mountains in the span of just one month: Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak, and K2.
While this might have become the norm for some climbers in recent years, it was an entirely new experience for me. I had always been accustomed to taking things at a more leisurely pace, climbing one peak at a time, savoring each ascent, and immersing myself in the intricacies of the climb, the routes, the people, and every detail in between. This time, however, was different but still incredibly rewarding and challenging.
My journey began with Nanga Parbat. I arrived at the Basecamp (BC) on June 21st, 2023, much later than the other climbers who had already completed their rotations and were preparing for their summit pushes. Due to permit and visa issues, I found myself at the back of the line, adding pressure to my already challenging situation of being under-acclimatized. Despite this, I clung to the hope that my previous experience on Dhaulagiri in the spring, where I had spent seven weeks, would provide me with the necessary acclimatization.
I wasted no time and soon found myself ascending to Camp 1 and then Camp 2, primarily for acclimatization purposes.
The summit push approached much faster than I had anticipated. Nanga Parbat is known for being a tricky mountain, and the conventional wisdom is to seize the summit push opportunity as soon as possible, as the conditions can quickly become treacherous later in the season. So, heeding this advice, we pressed on.
We reached Camp 3 on July 1st, and on the same day, we embarked on the summit push.
The climb was exhilarating, but I couldn't shake the exhaustion that seemed to creep in. At times, the urge to turn back was overwhelming. After the traverse at Camp 4, the final ascent to the peak stretched on seemingly endlessly.
Just when you thought you had reached the summit, there was still a bit more to conquer. And then a bit more.
Finally, we stood atop the summit, greeted by breathtaking views, good weather, and a merciful lack of strong winds. Yet, the persistent pressure to begin the descent loomed.
Descending on unfixed ropes is always more challenging, and I found myself improvising with an ice axe since I lacked a hiking pole, despite the numbing cold in my hands. We spent the night at Camp 3 and trekked back to Basecamp the following day.
From there, we embarked on a one-day trek out and drove to Skardu. That day was a blur of hunger and fatigue, with sleepiness dominating my memories.
My Nanga Parbat expedition marked a unique chapter in my Himalayan climbing journey, distinguished not by its duration, but by the plethora of unforgettable experiences it encompassed. It was a captivating blend of conversations, moments of elation, bouts of frustration, and a rollercoaster of emotions.
Looking back, I can confidently affirm that Nanga Parbat was anything but mundane; it was a relentless ascent, characterized by steep slopes and colossal walls.
Among these formidable features, the Kinshofer Wall emerged as the crowning jewel, an awe-inspiring testament to nature's grandeur. The challenge it presented only added to its allure, making it a remarkable highlight of my Himalayan exploits.
My Story of Broad Peak
Broad Peak is a mountain that lies near the massive of K2. So, no matter how big and technical it is, there is always less attention to it.
It is only 8,051 meter, and it is the 12th-highest mountain in the world.
When I reached Basecamp on K2 I see more clearly the mountain, and the route, but even though you are able to see quite a lot of it, you feel like how is it possible since there is a lot of rock and much less snow.
Anyway, after waiting for few days in BC, and spending one night in K2 camp 1, finally I took the permit, and the time has come.
Summit push on Broad Peak
It is very strange to me since I have always climbed up and down from the mountains before the summit push, but this time because of the acclimatization from Nanga Parbat and also spending a night in Camp 1 on K2, I think I should be fine with it.
We started on 21st July from Basecamp to Camp 2 (4,900 m to 6,100 m), around 1,200 meter D+ climbing. Maybe it took us seven to eight hours. It is not the very easy part to climb especially because you have a lot of rocks and gravel which makes the walk more difficult.
We spent this night in Camp 2, trying to rest and eat, since the next day would be the summit day.
On 22nd July we started from Camp 2 to Camp 3 (6,100 m to 7,000 m), 900-meter D+, not very difficult, more in a snow and in a nice trail. Not so long for us.
In Camp 3 we tried to rest, eat, and drink and be ready for the summit push. The weather was not that good. It was snowing, and windy. But we knew from our leader that at some point in the night it will stop.
We started our summit push around 20.00 o`clock. We tried to follow a big team, but we were always a bit behind. Since they tried to find the route, we could save some energy what was good for us. The first part is a bit boring till you start climbing the couloir, that reaches the ridge. On the ridge you feel you are very close to the peak, but in fact Broad Peak has one of the longest ridges to the peak. They say it is never-ending, but for me it was so beautiful to climb on all the technical sections and parts.
I fell in a huge crevasse, haha. it was scary but also so beautiful to see all the formations of the ice and on the other side completely open and you could see China :).
Mikel and Nuri helped me to go out. They pulled the rope, and I was safe again. It was just a good reminder to be very careful and cautious where I step.
We continue the climb on the ridge and around 5:00 - 5.30 in the morning we were at the summit.
The weather wasn't the best. I wish I could climb this mountain in better weather conditions since it has the most beautiful views.
Anyway, immediately after this we continued descending. The first team descended very fast, it took us some more time to go to the couloir and further down. When we reached the end of the couloir, we were already in a whiteout. I tried so hard to stay on the right way, it was almost impossible to see.
At one point I was able to follow a few treks, and then it was no longer possible. We got caught by a small avalanche; we keept going. The moment we got lost, and the moment we found Camp 3 took us about 6 hours. 6 hours of hard work, navigating with Garmin and communicating with home thru Garmin. Talking to Dawa on the radio. All of this, it helped us move some more meters in elevation, but we were still 200 meters in elevation away from Camp 3.
To cut a long story short, the visibility came back and just before it got dark, we were happy to see Camp 3, so we immediately found the way down to it. We spent another night in Camp 3, and the next day we started very early to go down.
It was the time to unpack, dry and pack. I left the same day to Camp 2 on K2. I was very tired, but that was the only chance to climb K2.
K2 Unveiled: Her Remarkable Journey
Ever since I embarked on my Himalayan climbing journey, K2 has been a lofty dream that has continuously beckoned me. Throughout this journey, my mind has been filled with vivid aspirations, with particular sections of the climb standing out as vivid dreamscape destinations. The Chimney, the enigmatic Black Pyramid, and the notorious Bottle Neck are the coveted segments that have fueled my deepest climbing desires. These are the precipitous challenges that I yearn to conquer, and they serve as the focal points of my K2 aspirations.
The summit push began immediately after my descent from Broad Peak.
I was mentally prepared for a potentially slow climb, understanding the importance of not pushing too hard. We set out at 02:00 on the 25th of July. Our ascent to Camp 2 was surprisingly swift, and I experienced the best sleep I'd ever had during my climbing endeavors. It was reassuring to witness the resilience of the human body in such challenging conditions.
The following day, we pressed on towards Camp 3. Despite less-than-ideal weather, those two days were marked by their sheer beauty, from climbing on the House of Chimney climb to navigating the treacherous Black Pyramid, which featured a daunting mix of steep rock and ice. Even though we were constantly tied to ropes, the physical exertion, especially with our heavy gear, presented an ongoing challenge.
At Camp 3, we took a few precious hours to rest before embarking on the final summit push.
We anxiously awaited updates from the fixing team responsible for fixing ropes and received positive news regarding their progress. I've always searched for signs or moments that affirm my decision to continue, and as I stepped out of my tent, ready to ascend, I was greeted by a shooting star. It was a profound moment, reinforcing my belief that this endeavor would ultimately end in success.
And so, we embarked on the ascent. The climbing itself wasn't exceptionally difficult; it was mainly an upward journey with some traversing until we reached Camp 4. The challenge persisted, though, and just before the formidable Bottle Neck, we paused and waited for over an hour. During this time, two avalanches descended upon us from above. Those behind me were showered with snow, while I, positioned higher up, could only feel the cold and occasional snowflakes. As we waited, confusion mounted. Lights and movement up ahead hinted at something happening, but the details remained elusive.
Eventually, we resumed our climb. The Bottle Neck itself was a sight to behold, an awe-inspiring ice wall that left my body trembling and my heart racing. It was almost surreal to stand in its midst. After taking a few cautious steps along a narrow trail, with a sheer drop on one side and a 200-meter ice wall on the other, we encountered Pakistani porter M.A. and two others attempting to rescue him. They urged us to continue, as they were focused on assisting him back down. Progress along the Bottle Neck was slow and challenging, as only one person could traverse it at a time.
The remainder of the climb felt tedious and protracted, with our group trailing behind the fixing team. One nerve-wracking moment occurred just above the Bottle Neck, on an ice slope adorned with numerous ropes from past years, making it uncertain which were still reliable. Despite my apprehension, I followed the lead of the group.
Reaching the summit was an indescribably beautiful moment.
Emotions overwhelmed me, making it nearly impossible to capture the experience in photos or videos without shedding tears. I felt an unparalleled sense of strength and clarity, fully aware of the significance of my presence at that moment.
It was a magical, unforgettable culmination of many years of pursuing this monumental dream—finally, K2 was conquered.
K2, forever the mighty mountain, etched its place in my heart.