We have finally managed to set up the first two camps up the mountain and came down from Camp Two to Base Camp yesterday at midday, just the moment the weather got bad.
Camp One is at about 8km distance from Base Camp ( GPS measurements taken last year) and 900 meters level difference, over a nasty icefall. But this year we found the icefall to be much more "friendly" than in 2007. Nevertheless, negotiating the crevasses unroped for most of the way would have been pure madness.
Only days ago, the accomplished extreme skier Jean Noel Urban found his death after falling into a very deep crevasse while a snow bridge gave away, giving no hopes to rescue him. Jean Noel and his partner Nicolas Brun were just leaving their tent at Gasherbrum La and were heading for the base camp. The two French were unroped, the party's rope being carried by Jean Noel himself.
We had heavy packs up to Camp One at 5900m, of around 20kg. Among other things, I carried along a 150m static rope which we should later use for setting a part of the route from Camp Three to Camp Four at 7500m. This was part of the deal with the other teams present in base camp as to share the work for equipping the mountain. The climb up to Camp Two at 6400m has been done during the early night, and not the early morning as most of the people on the mountain did. It was just a matter of what Pawel and myself preferred to do, both of us being a kind of evening birds. We went up lightweight, only with our down suits with us, no sleeping bags. The two acclimatization nights we spent at 6400m proved much colder than expected, actually we got almost no sleep, with feet rubbing from time to time and long bear hugs. Time looked as infinite and what should have been routine acclimatization time actually sucked the energy out of our bodies. Sometimes your plan or strategy looks perfect but it can just happen to miss some apparently minor things and have everything ruined by an incredible small amateurish mistake.
At the time we left Camp One we just could not imagine the cold at 6400m for the next two nights. And we both spent nights there on 2007 and we both slept only in our down suits at altitudes above 6400m. The incoming bad weather on Sunday convinced us to get down to base camp instead of climbing up to 6900m, as we had planned along with spending an acclimatization night there and establish Camp Three. The forecast is not too optimistic, till next Sunday we shall expect bad weather. We will take advantage of this and rest in the Base Camp and try to recover and regain our strength and energy again for what it will be our final move on the mountain: the summit push.