Archive for April, 2011

Erhard Loretan made five K2 attempts, successful in 1985

April 30, 2011

Recently deceased great Swiss climber Erhard Loretan made five attempts on K2. He was the third person to have completed all 14 8000m mountains.

In 1985 he first made 2 attempts on the South Face. But these were unsuccessful. He switched to the more commonly used Abruzzi Ridge and made the summit.

He also tried to climb the West Face of K2 in 1989 but this was not successful. He then made another attempt in 1992 but once again met with no success.

This was from the following source:

Teton OuterLocal

More detail of his 1985 ascent up the Abruzzi Ridge is in a PDF in the Alpine Journal.

He was part of a Franco-Swiss party comprising Erhard Loretan, Jean Troillet, Yves Morand, Eric Escoffier, Daniel Lacroix, Stand Jean Francois Magnificat. They started their climb on July 4th. Loretan and Escoffier left camp 2 at 4am and reached 7400m later that day to be joined by others.

On the final summit day they left at 9pm. They took between 3-4 hours to cross the traverse under the massive ice serac. They managed to get to the top of K2 at 1:30pm. This was 15 hours after they had left camp 4. By 7pm they had descended to 7400m.

On the way down they met Schaffter and Lacroix who were going up. These two climbers eventually made it to the top of K2 also. But on the way down they became separated at about 8200m. Schaffter made it down safely, but Lacroix was never seen again and no one knows what happened.

Source: Alpine Journal

Greg Mortenson responds to criticism from 60 minutes

April 24, 2011

Greg Mortenson has responded in a local paper to the criticism in a 60 minutes report. The report had called into question the accuracy of the details in his book “Three Cups of Tea” and said that there were many facts in the book that were not true.

In a prepared statement, Mortenson told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle – a local paper where he lives in Montana – that the accusations against him could hurt the charity efforts going on in Pakistan and Afghanistan. “I hope these… attacks, the people doing these things, know this could be devastating for tens of thousands of girls,” Mortenson said to the newspaper. Mortenson is of the belief that education of girls is a key to changing society for the better in that part of the world.

There were a number of points that 60 minutes raised about Mortenson’s expedition to K2 and also the subsequent events from then. Mortenson, in this statement, strongly refuted the financial accusations made against him in the 60 minutes report. However, there was one important claim from the book where Mortenson seems to be conceding that it was not accurate.

This claim relates to one of the most powerful stories from “Three Cups of Tea” is when Mortenson said that he abandoned K2, and got lost on the way out of the region. He said that he ended up in a village called Korphe and was nursed to health by the people there. It was from this that he wanted to repay them and start building a school for them.

60 minutes had reported that mountaineer and author Jon Krakauer had spoken to one of the porters who left K2 with Mortenson in 1993. Krakauer claimed that the porter said that Mortenson never went anywhere near Korphe. Instead the story was a fabrication.

“The time about our final days on K2 and ongoing journey to Korphe village and Skardu is a compressed version of events that took place in the fall of 1993,” Mortenson responded.

He said that the details in the book were condensed so as not to confuse the reader with too much detail. Mortenson appears to be saying that the details were condensed in this section so as not to confuse the reader. It seems as if Mortenson has retreated a bit from the accuracy of this story.

Mortenson said that David Oliver Relin also co-authored the book, but he was alone in the accuracy of the story. Also there were many people who had a hand in completing the manuscript.

60 minutes talked to one of the people in the photo which Mortenson claimed in his book were Taliban and held him hostage. The person said that he was not Taliban and was there to protect him.

Mortenson responds by saying that the people in the photo that he claimed were Taliban and that they were holding him hostage. He says that he was definitely held hostage by these people. In the 60 minutes interview one of those in the picture spoke out and said that they were not Taliban rather protecting Mortenson. He claimed in his book that he was detained for 8 days. “I thought it best to befriend the people detaining me,” Mortenson said. But he also said that those who detained him might have perceived it differently.

In the 60 minutes report, they said that many of the projects for schools were never completed and were done by other companies other than his own. Mortenson says that some of the projects where  charity money was given to schools failed because of a disgruntled former employee. This employee deliberately sabotaged the operations of these schools.

As for the squandering of money on the schools, Mortenson says that the CAI – which overseas the distribution of money to these schools – is in a position to start 63 new schools this year. “I stand by the information … in my book and by the value of CAI’s work in empowering local communities to build and operate schools that have educated more than 60,000 students,” Mortenson said.

This was one of the ways that Mortenson has said something about the allegations. His other prepared statement is on the CAI website.

Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Article about Rob Stringer attempt on K2

April 24, 2011

A New Jersey newspaper has written a story about Rob Stringers attempt on K2 and Broad Peak in 2011.

Springer has been training extremely hard for his attempt on these mountains. He does a massive amount of training to prepare himself. He makes sure that he overdoes it just in case all of his physical resources are needed while climbing.

Part of his training involves running through hiking trails with a heavy backpack and ski poles. He also runs as if preparing for a marathon. Also he works hard on his upper body strength. He believes that strength is important at high altitude. “You’re gonna lose at least 20 pounds on the mountain,” he said.

He accepts that death is part of the risk that any climber accepts. “There’s risk but everybody accepts the risk,” he said.

Becoming a mountaineer was easy for Springer. At the age of 3 he started downhill skiing. Eventually he became interested in rock climbing and hiking. Five years ago he quit his job to follow his passion for climbing.

He started climbing some of the highest mountains in the USA. These were: Mount Hood, Mount Rainer, and then Denali the highest mountain in North America.

Eventually he decided to tackle the 8000m peaks. The first he tried was Cho Oyu but he did not make the summit. His oxygen run out and he had to turn back.

Then he turned his attention to Everest. He joined an international expedition in 2009 and made the summit. But once he made it to the top trouble started. His oxygen mask had disintegrated. So he had to descend quickly. Also he got some snow blindness because he had to not use the snow goggles because they got fogged up. Also he got frostbit on his toes and some were removed when he got home. But he thought that all of these risks were worth the effort.

For Springer K2 in the ultimate in climbing mountains. “For mountaineers, K2 is the prize,“ he said

Springer will be part of the Field Touring Alpine Expedition to Broad Peak and K2 in the summer of 2011.

Source: New Jersey Hills

Photos from 1978 trek to K2

April 23, 2011

There are over 400 photos from a trek to K2 from a climber on Flickr. They cover from the start of the trek to Concordia and base camp of K2. Since the photos were taken in August they show Concordia in summer, with much of the ice having melted.

Photo of Concordia with K2 in distance

Photo of climbers appraoching base camp at K2

Photo of K2 from inside a tent

K2 in the late afternoon

K2 and tents. This shows how the mountain dominates Concordia.

Colorado climber aiming for highest triple peaks on each continent

April 23, 2011

A well known Colorado climber, Jake Norton, hopes to be the first person to climb all of the 3 highest mountains on each continent. Initially there was the seven summits where climbers had to climb the highest mountain in each continent; then the second summits where it was the highest 2; and now the highest 3. K2, of course, is amongst the second summits. This will mean 21 peaks in total for him to climb.

He hopes to complete this by 2014. The last 2 mountains that he will attempt will be K2 and then Kanchenjunga. In 2013 he aims to climb K2 and Kanchenjunga in 2014.

In addition to climbing all of the 3 highest peaks on each continent, he wants to call attention to the billion people needing safe drinking water and the 2.6 billion who do not have toilets of a high standard.

“I’m hoping to take the visibility of my life’s work and use it to help empower often-invisible people around the world lacking basic human needs,” he said.

Already he has climbed a number of the triple summit. Amongst these are Mt Everest,  Mt Kilimanjaro, and Mt McKinley. Norton helped find the remains of Mallory on Everest.

Source: Digitaljournal

60 minutes casts doubts on Greg Mortenson K2 story

April 16, 2011

60 minutes in the USA has run an in depth look at the claims of Greg Mortenson. They looked at 3 key claims about his expedition to K2 and where the funds were going from his book ‘Three Cups of Tea’.

A little background first. Greg Mortenson claimed in his book that he made an attempt on K2 but abandoned it after trying to rescue another climber. Exhausted he and a porter headed away from the mountain, got lost and ended up at a small village called Korphe. He claimed in his book that the local villagers looked after him because his health was poor after an attempt on K2. He vowed that he would return and start a school at this village to help them back. Since then he has written a book about his experiences on K2 and the setting up of schools in the region. There has been a foundation setup to raise money for this program. He regularly gives lectures about his experiences.

The first claim by 60 minutes is that he never actually went to this village after coming down from K2. Reporters from 60 minutes went to this village to investigate the claims. What they found was that he certainly never went there after coming down from K2 in 1993.

Instead 60 minutes found the porters who accompanied him and they said that he did not get lost after coming down from K2. Instead he went there a year later and before that had never heard of the village.

A donor and author called Krakauer  told 60 minutes that the story in ‘Three Cups of Tea’ is a beautiful story but it is not true. One of Krakauer’s close friends hiked out of K2 with Mortenson and he told Krakauer that the story was a fabrication. Mortenson did end up building a school in this village but according to Krakauer the real reason for doing so was different to what was in the book.

The next claim that 60 minutes tries to debunk in the abduction of Mortenson by the Taliban in 1996. In his book, Mortenson has a picture of his abductors. But when 60 minutes went to investigate, they found that the people in the photo were not terrorists or Taliban. Mansur Khan Mahsud was one of the men in the photo and he said that they were not kidnappers rather they were there to protect him. Asked why Mortenson would make this up Mahsud replied that he did it to sell his book.

60 minutes also investigated where all of the funding has gone from the foundation Mortenson setup to raise money for schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They found that there had only been one audit of the books in 14 years.

A charity group is concerned that the donors of money to these schools might not be going where they intend it to. They think that some of this money might be going to promote Mortenson’s books rather than to the schools. 60 minutes found that some of the schools claimed to have been built were empty, were built by someone else, or were never built in the first place.

They asked Greg Mortenson to appear on their show but he did not respond.

Source: CBS 60 minutes

Kinga Baranowska could be heading back to K2 in 2011

April 7, 2011

It seems as if Kinga Baranowska is going to back to K2 in 2011. On her website she has a link to K2 2011 and one presumes that this means that this is in her plans this year. There are also some photos from last years K2 expedition on that same page.

In 2010 she made it to camp 4 before deciding not to go any further because of the weather. She went with a Polish expedition. The next mountain she plans to climb is the 8000m mountain Makalu.

Source: Kinga Baranowska