July 9, 2009
Almost exactly three years after in 2006 I summited the east summit of
Gasherbrum II (7772m), I reached the main summit of 8035m high
Gasherbrum II. 2006: Hans Mitterer, Cedric Hählen and first ascended - coming from the
Chinese side - a new route. It was the first route from the north side.
After my wife Nicole and I spent two months in the States climbing, we flew to Pakistan on June 8, 2009. In America I redpointed the legendary route "Golden Gate" at El Capitan. Another success in my carreer as a professional alpinist. I nearly missed being the first person to climb a route on sight at the monolith of granit in the Yosemite National Park. I fell off a crack in a relatively simple pitch. Several pitches in the 10th grade of difficulty I climbed all in the first try. Rock climbing legends such as Yuji Hirayama or Tommy Caldwell needed different tries, to climb these difficult passages.
Now the situation is completely different. For my preparation and acclimatisation I climb Gasherbrum II main summit. It is my first peak of a mountain over 8000 meters. In autumn I would like to fulfil my long lasting project and climb a mountain over 8000 meters over a technical demanding route solo.
The conditions are not really ideal. After a four days break at the base camp, Nicole and I start towards camp 1 once more on July 6, which lies at 5900 meters. The weather is very unstable. One meter of fresh snow has fallen. On July 7 we planned to move towards camp 2. The danger of avalanches is high. We spend another day at camp 1 and the sky is deep blue. Nobody moves on. On July 8, at 6 o’clock in the morning, Nicole and I set off for camp 2. We are not sure, if it is possible to continue our way under these particular conditions. The snow conditions are still very precarious. Carefully we move on. We need 6 hours up to camp 2. During my acclimatisation days before I needed 2 ½ hours for the same way. Just to compare. This is high altitude alpinism. Camp 2 lies on a protected place on the ridge. Our tent is placed about 100 meters of altitude higher than the one of the other teams. It is not much snowed in. Our place seems to be perfect. The other tents 100 meters below are deeply buried into the snow.
On July 9, 2009 I set off for a first summit try. The moon is shining and shows me the way. The fresh snow gives a lot of resistance. From 6500 meters up to approx. 7000 meter the snow is hip-deep. To spur is very exhausting. Between 7000 and 7450 meters I can step aside to the rocks, which are blowed clear. The climb over the rocky ridge is more difficult, but less exhausting than moving up in the hip-deep snow. From camp 4 the normal route crosses under the summit pyramid to the right. The strong wind from the past days has done a good job. The traverse goes relatively easy. On the col the wind is expecting me – as forecasted by Meteotest. This wind blows up to 50 km/h. The temperatures fall below 25 degrees. From the col there are still about 300 meters of altitude to go to the main summit of Gasherbrum II. The last ascent is not easy at all. Again the snow lies nearly bottomless.
12 hours after having left my warm sleeping bag, I reach the 8035 meter high summit. I stay only about five minutes on the summit. It's not at all comfortable up there. The cold drives me to a quick descent. This is easy in the deep snow. To slide down is a well-deserved relief. The descent to the tent lasts about 2 ½ hours.
Totally I was en-route 14 ½ hours. In my backpack: 0.5 liters of Peronin, 0.5 liters of mint tea, 2 oatmeal snacks and 4 powergels.
On July 10, Nicole and I descend to the base camp.
The main summit of Gasherbrum II is my first summit success on a mountain over 8000 meters. An easy peak over 8000 meters. Nevertheless it’s the ideal preparation for my main upcoming project in autumn: Makalu in Nepal. In the next days I will go up again: as a supplementary training. I will try to reach the summit together with my wife Nicole.
But the real preparation has been done. I am happy.
See you soon.