Bucharest, 29 July 2014
Alex Gavan, a New High Altitude Success: the Broad Peak Summit (8047m)
Climber Alex Gavan, one of Romania’s top performers at high altitude, topped out on July 23, 2014 the Broad Peak summit (8047m) in the Karakoram range, Pakistan, without supplementary oxigen or High Altitude Porters’ support. This is the sixth 8000m summit he has climbed in his sportsman career, all ascents being achieved without supplementary oxygen and without High Altitude Porters or Sherpa support.
Alex Gavan has dedicated the Broad Peak ascent to the memory of the Romanian anticommunist resistance movement in the mountains, whose members’ struggle and sacrifice are both a source of inspiration and a proof that not all Romanians accept compromise, be it with a totalitarian regime or with life challenges. Genuinely caring means to take action and to walk the walk, and this is the example set by the anticommunist resistance fighters in Romania, according to the climber. Alex Gavan has also dedicated this ascent to all those who believe in the power of good thoughts, deeds and things, as well as of the positive transformation which starts with each of us; to those for whom the easy way is not always the chosen option; to those who want to leave this world a little better than they found it.
Alex teamed up with Bulgarian climbers Boyan Petrov, Mladen Dankov and Ivan Tomov. The summit climb started on July 21, when the four of them left the Base Camp straight to Camp 2 (6240m). On July 22, the team reached Camp 3 (7040m), except for Mladen Dankov, who returned. Several teams had been climbing at the same time, including a Polish one, with the objective of reaching Broad Peak Middle. The most difficult part, meaning the ascent from Camp 3 to the summit and the return to Camp 3, took almost 24 hours of continuous physical effort in the so called “death zone”, about which Alex Găvan says:
”The summit push lasted almost 24 grueling hours. We left Camp 3 at around 11.45 p.m., July 22, arrived at Broad Col (7800m) at around 10 a.m., on July 23, and reached the main summit of Broad Peak (8047m) at 3.30 p.m. Boyan and Ivan reached the top more than an hour before me. I was on the summit at the same time with Karim Hayat from Pakistan. At about 11 p.m., I was back in Camp 3. The descent was in some ways much more difficult and dangerous than the ascent.
From Camp 3 (7040m) it was a long 1000m difference in altitude, exhausting, in many places exposed, and a dangerous summit climb. Partly deep snow, partly icy - for the benefit of speed we fixed only a fraction of the route. We were going as light as possible, each of us carrying only a small amount of rope and protection.
The summit ridge was extremely spectacular, with a 3000m daunting vertical wall on the Chinese side and an impressive drop on the Pakistani side as well. There were plenty of corniches that we had to be aware of. But it had an unreal and dangerous beauty of its own. Snow and ice conditions made me happy that I had with me two ice tools.
At almost all times during the long ascent, I was so into what was happening in the "now", that the summit didn’t quite exist. It was always the present crampon kicking, the present ice tool placement that fullfilled my being. The gravitational force of the moment was so intense, that it did not let any outside thoughts to penetrate it. Trying to think of the summit would only have projected it into an even farther distance. I finally had the certainty of reaching the top when I was only 30min from it.
The feeling on the summit was nothing like the one I had on Shisha Pangma, my last high mountain climbed, in 2013. What I felt then was complete emptiness. Now it was sheer joy - happiness. The mountain has its own way, each time, of making possible a special encounter with oneself. It's what you choose to make out of it that matters”.
On July 24, Alex Gavan descended to Base Camp. The Summit day had been established after a long and careful analysis of the weather forecasts, to identify the opportunity for the summit attempt. In the previous 12 days the weather had been bad, with high winds and massive snow falls. After ending the acclimatization, during which Alex Gavan set 3 intermediary camps (at 5500m, 6240m, 7040m), he waited in the Base Camp for better weather conditions. Even during the acclimatization ascent he was challenged by high winds and snow falls.
This has been the second Romanian ascent of the Broad Peak. The first one was done by climber Constantin Lăcătușu, in 1992, who achieved this way the first 8000er for Romania.
Alex Gavan’s expedition on Broad Peak started on June 11, when he left Romania. The climber reached Base Camp (approximatively 4850/4950m) on June 24, after a 100 km trek from Askole, the most remote and the highest dwelling in Pakistan. Between June 25 and July 9 he made the acclimatization ascents.
In 2014, Alex Găvan had another expedition, in Nepal. In April he had a second attempt (after the one in 2009) to make the first Romanian ascent without supplementary oxygen and Sherpa Support of the Everest (8850m), and in May he attempted to climb Dhaulagiri (8167m). The ascent of the Everest was postponed as the avalanche on April 18 forced the shut down of the Southern Side. In May, Alex Gavan attempted the ascent of the Dhaulagiri, from where he withdrew due to weather and health conditions, which prevented the climb in reasonable conditions. The project has been made possible by the support of: TotalSoft, Intercapital Invest, Certinvest (Partners), Zitec (IT Partner), al OMA Vision (Communication Partner); Accountess, BDD Strategy, World Class, Suplimente.ro, Sanador (Supporters).
Read the rest here
Alex in the Base Camp, on July 25, after the summit ascent