The first successfully guided commercial mountaineering expedition to K2 was led by Madison Mountaineering in 2014. On July 27th, 2014 Garrett Madison reached the summit of K2 along with climbers Alan Arnette and Matthew Dupuy (read the expedition dispatches). We plan to return to K2 in 2017 and hope to repeat our success, bringing a team of 6 climbers.
Climbing K2 is much more challenging and far more dangerous than climbing Everest via the standard North or Southside routes, and for this reason, we plan to keep our team size small and comprised of qualified climbers, supported by some of the best climbing Sherpas and mountain guides in the world. Unlike on Everest, because the weather and route conditions are notoriously fickle on K2, we must be prepared to take advantage of very brief periods of good weather. Rockfall and snow avalanches are common on the route following K2’s Abruzzi ridge, making it often unsafe to climb or camp (as evidenced by the 2013 tragedy), and the monolithic ice cliff which overhangs the “bottleneck” and “traverse” portions of the route on summit day sheds ice frequently (as evidenced by the 2008 tragedy), so taking advantage of good route conditions and moving quickly are paramount.
8000-meter peaks such as Everest, Cho Oyu, and Manaslu are now frequented by commercial operators coordinating together to set the fixed ropes, therefore sharing this workload, however since K2 is undeveloped we will likely be working alone or with only one other team to set the fixed lines. Additionally, relying on support from other teams for help is not available so we must be self-sufficient throughout.
Unfortunately, the food available in Pakistan is not the best for foreigners, so we have developed a meal plan that encompasses the entire trek and climb. Most of this food is brought from the USA, and we have a Nepalese cook who we have worked with for many years who (with his staff) meticulously prepares each meal for our team. On the mountain, our guides and Sherpas help prepare the meals. We find that climbers perform much better, and are often in better spirits when the food is appetizing and nutritious.
We employ many porters to ferry our expedition loads to base camp. The trek to K2 base camp is more than twice the distance as the trek to Everest base camp (south side) and is considerably more arduous being mostly on glacier and loose rock. There are no villages or lodges (as on the Everest trek) so we must transport our entire camp kit by porters each day as we move our caravan towards base camp. Each porter on hire requires an additional porter to carry food and personal items, so we have a small army making our way up and down the Baltoro Glacier. It is very important to differentiate ourselves from other operators in that we have a very nice base camp, with large common tents with heating for dining and communications, and comfortable personal tents for each member. Being here for almost 2 months, it is important for our team to have a comfortable camp, as well as to have access to the internet via a satellite modem (this cost is free to all members). We have modern VHF radios for communications on the mountain, and each member is issued their own radio. We also have satellite phones available to members.
We have regular access to hot showers, sinks for washing multiple times daily, one sanitary toilet tent for men and one for women, as well as ample space for storing your personal equipment securely.
Above base camp (16,300’) we have 5 camps: Advanced Base Camp (17,400’), Camp 1 (19,900’), Camp 2 (21,980’), Camp 3 (23,800), and Camp 4 (25,300’). Unlike many teams who share tents in various camps, we have our own dedicated tents in each camp that are preset to reserve our space at the beginning of the season. One should note that at Camp 1 and Camp 2 there is only space for 6-8 tents maximum, so if you arrive late in the season you must share a tent with another team that already has their camp established if you wish to use that camp. Much of the route leading up to Camp 4 is on steep snow or ice slopes, however, there is also significant rock. Portions of the route such as House’s Chimney and The Black Pyramid involve sustained periods of vertical rock climbing, so one should be well versed using crampons on steep rock at high altitude.
Our plan is to climb partway up the route reaching Camp 3 to acclimatize before making our summit rotation. For details regarding our acclimatization and Oxygen strategy please contact our office.
On summit day we begin the gradual ascent of “the Shoulder” on hard snow and ice leading up to the bottleneck, a rock and snow climb under the looming Serac. Next is the “Traverse” which is mostly front pointing, and then the upper snow slopes leading to K2’s summit, where we are often breaking trail through knee-deep snow. The view from the top is amazing!
Day 1: Arrive Islamabad early in the morning, gear check, group welcome dinner and stay in our 4-star hotel.
Day 2: Fly via fixed wing aircraft from Islamabad to Skardu. Explore the village and relax in the gardens of the hotel overlooking the Indus River.
Day 3: Drive to Askole in jeeps.
Day 4: Trek to Korofong 3,100m (10,320’).
Day 5: Trek to Bardumal 3,305m (10,906’).
Day 6: Trek to Paiju 3,383m (11,164’).
Day 7: Trek to Khoburtse 3,566m (11,768’).
Day 8: Trek to Urdukas 4,130m (13,630’).
Day 9: Trek to Goro 2 4,250m (14,025’).
Day 10: Trek to Concordia 4,600m (15,180’).
Day 11: Arrive K2 base camp 5,650m (18,650’).
Day 12-16: Rest days in base camp. Organize equipment, short hikes & climbs for acclimatization. If climbers are feeling well acclimatized we may begin our first ‘rotation’ without using all 5 of these rest days.
Days 17-40: Climbing period. We make at least one rotation climbing to Camps 1, 2 and 3 before making our summit attempt. During this time we establish our route and high camps, and evaluate the weather for our summit rotation. We hope to summit between July 25-August 5.
Day 41-43: Organize gear for departure.
Day 44: Trek to Goro 2.
Day 45: Trek to Paiju.
Day 46: Trek to Askole.
Day 47: Drive from Askole to Skardu by jeep.
Day 48: Fly Skardu to Islamabad.
Day 49: Islamabad to USA.
Days 50-60: Contingency days in case of bad weather.
- Airport pick up in Islamabad
- 2 nights accommodations in Islamabad at 4 star hotel, 1 night before and 1 night after the expedition. (If additional nights in Islamabad are required climbers must pick up the extra nights)
- Welcome dinner in Islamabad, breakfast included with hotel stay (2 nights)
- Tents during the trek and climb. At base camp each climber will have a 3 person tent at base camp for personal use. We will have a private dining tent for our expedition, and a private communications tent for our expedition. A toilet tent and shower tents will also be provided exclusive to our team, as well as lights, heaters, and a power source for recharging your electronics
- All food during the climb. No expense is spared in providing high quality food from the USA and Pakistan/Nepal. If you have particular dietary requirements, please give us specific details and we will accommodate your needs!
- All transportation in Pakistan, including round-trip flights from Islamabad to Skardu & Skardu to Islamabad. In the event these flights are cancelled we will usually wait a few days for another flight before making the 2 day journey by bus to Skardu
- All group equipment needed to climb the mountain: ropes, tents, cooking gear, fuel, stoves, all forms of rock, ice, and snow protection, VHF radios for all members, other communication gear, plenty of oxygen for all climbers & Sherpas, oxygen mask & regulator, medical supplies, etc.
- Our Sherpa team will be in charge of fixing our route to the summit. Once we summit they will likely take these fixed ropes off the route upon our descent
- Internet access & satellite phones in base camp. Satellite phone is available at $3 per minute
- Professional weather forecasting services from USA & European based meteorologists
- Sherpa, porters, liaison officer, camp staff and guides
- All administration fees owed to Islamabad, including climbing permits
- Bank Wire Transfer Fees (if applicable)
- International round-trip airfare (USA-Pakistan-USA)
- Meals in Islamabad and extra hotel nights after the climb (once the climber has left the mountain). If we are delayed in Islamabad climbers must pay for additional nights
- Personal gear for any standard 8000-meter peak expedition, clothing and sleeping equipment (see gear list)
- Insurance. A comprehensive medical insurance policy is required to embark on this expedition. An evacuation Insurance Policy is also mandatory. Helicopter evacuation from base camp costs approximately $40,000
- Trip cancellation insurance. This is highly recommended
- Comprehensive medical exam. A physician signed Medical Release Form is required
- Alcoholic beverages and bottled drinks
- All expenses incurred in the event of early departure (evacuation fees, transport, extra hotel nights, etc.)
- Personal Items
- Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of Madison Mountaineering
- Personal communication (phone, fax, e-mail) between Pakistan and home country
- Gratuities ($1000 Sherpa summit bonus for your personal Sherpa). Western guide gratuity
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