K2: a Fort for Txikon, reinforcements for the Russians and the wait for good weather
The two expedition on the K2 do not have any kind of human contact or technical exchange. A pity but it was predictable.
The abysmal differences in strategy, as well as cultural and personal ones, have become widely manifest in the last 20 days, when the action on the mountain has been reduced to the minimum due to the continuous bad weather.
However, the Russians-Kyrgyz-Kazakhs have continued rotations between Base Camp, Advanced Base and up to Camp 2, bringing materials and maintaining a minimum level of acclimatization; moreover, unlike Txikon, they have already practically passed the Black Pyramid and have the material ready to set up the upper Camps, the C3 at about 7300 meters and the C4 on the shoulder, at about 7950 meters.
Black Pyramid zone, russian team shot
Alex Txikon has chosen not to move, and not to move any of his Sherpa, even in the presence of moderate bad weather. His strategy is “save energy for when there will come the good weather”. In the meantime, he kept busy by setting up a “wall” of ice, on the principle already used to build the igloos, to protect the tents from the strong winds expected in the last days; the visual effect … is that of a military fort!
The team of the Russians-Kyrgyz-Kazakhs led by Braun and Plivstov remained in action, though obviously reduced, after February 1, when the team had equipped until the 7200 meters of the Black Pyramid zone; in these 20 days, rotations were made up to C1 and a bet to C2, moreover 3 Kazakh mountaineers arrived at Base Camp, thanks to a late sponsorship.
In an interesting interview with Wspinaie.pl, the great Polish mountaineer Leszek Cichy, geodesist expert and protagonist, among others, of the first winter at Everest with Krzysztof Wielicki in 1980, expresses his thoughts on the strategies of the teams, about the terrain that will challenge the team between the Black Pyramid (which he faced in the winter 1987-88) and the summit of K2, in a very sharp way :
“The Black Pyramid does not present great technical difficulties but it is long, compared to the Tatra I would say a III / IV degree, moreover there are many ropes, not particularly ruined given the exposure and the rocky area, which allow a fairly fast progression in good condition “
“… the real problem will be in the area between C3, at the end of the Black Pyramid and the Shoulder: there are about 700-800 meters of route that, from the sketches and stories of Denis Urubko in the last attempt [last winter,ndR] is considerably full of crevasses and dangerous, depending on the presence of snow or ice, and it could be difficult to find the right path “
On acclimatization: “the Russians, if they think they are going to climb by the end of February – that they consider the real end of winter – they need to sleep at least one night over 7000 meters.. “.
But it is speaking of Alex Txikon that Cichy is lashing: “his two expeditions to Everest and what he has done so far to K2, that is to remain almost always at Base Camp, show that something with him is really wrong, either is logistics, or strategic…he’s not prepared at all, he never managed to climb even the Everest South Saddle [..] now he and his team have no acclimatization, which is only [gained] by making active efforts ; putting the fixed parallel ropes has been insane. “
Also Denis Urubko expressed his thoughts in a similar way, and he is convinced that none of the 2 teams will manage to climb by February 28th, the end of Winter for the mountaineer of Kazakh origin. In a newly released interview, Denis said he was rather tired of 8000ers expeditions, and he think he will do three more before retiring: one at Gasherbrum II this summer to make a new route, one at Broad Peak in winter and in two years the decisive one, at K2 winter..
“The good mountaineer is the old mountaineer,” said Urubko, who in this winter has perfected himself on rock in Patagonia with his partner Pipi Cardell.
In the next days is predicted a rather long window of good weather, all to be confirmed – both on K2 and Nanga, and soon we will see if there are minimal chances of success by one of the teams present ..
Nanga Parbat : snow, snow and snow again
A brief update from Nanga Parbat: Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard have been practically stopped for over 2 weeks at the Base Camp, except for a few run at C1 and one at C2 (5700 meters), to dig up the bag with the material.
At Nanga the amount of snowfall has been considerable, even if normal for the season; above all, in the short windows of good weather, the two could not move much for the avalanches resulting from the accumulations, very dangerous right in the C2-C3 area, at the base of the Mummery Spur.
In the meantime, bearers arrived with supplies of food and technical gear [the duo lost lot of material buriedby snow at Mummery bottom] , hoping to be able to climb the Mummery in speed during a good weather window.
The acclimatization is now lost, even if the two remain very positive and active at Base Camp, where Nardi and Ballard often train in drytooling on Boulder boulders and lately Tom Ballard in a nice downhill skiing from a side gully of Nanga
Tom Ballardsaid :
“This expedition seems more and more a nice holiday, we are well at Base Camp, we always find new problems of drytooling on the boulders around, and lately I had a lot of fun skiing on magnificent snow …”
Even for them, waiting for a window long enough in good weather is the dream of the moment …
As expected and written in the previous update, Alex Txikon’s team has moved on the Abruzzi Spur route, where is already in action the Russian-Kyrgyz-Kazakh team .
Although Txikon had clearly written that he would have return to check the East wall (and the way of the Americans), the day after the facts showed that he had already decided not to return there, and suddenly the Basque declared “that the mountain was discharging all the avalanches on that side [East, ndR] and that the traverse [to rejoin the Abruzzi, above 7500,ndR] was too dangerous “.
Alex’s sherpa team, and Alex himself, have equipped up to over Camp 1, parallel to the ropes already installed by the other team. The Russians have already equipped up to 6500 meters, at the beginning of the famous and technical Camino Bill.
Both have stayed at C1, we will see today the conditions of … traffic on the way.
At the moment, considering the team last communications, there are no great possibilities to join forces on the “Normal” of K2: it would have been desirable, a massive set up of ropes certainly does not help an easy progression ; however we believe – and hope – for a pact between the two team leader, as for not to hinder each others, along the progression on the route – especially on the technical Bill’s Chimney and the “black pyramid” , towards the 7200 meters of Campo 3, which does not have large spaces for tents.
*** Update 13:53 GMT+1 Waldemar Kowalewski, member of Txikon team, got hurt by a falling stone while carrying heavy sack of gear at 6000mt. During his retreat due to pain, he fell again then got lost on the glacier before BC, when it was dark. Then Alex got radio contact with him, sending help ; he’s now at BC, waiting to be airlifted : expedition is over for him
Really difficult situation, for Simone Moro, Pemba Sherpa and the 2 assistant chefs at the Manaslu Base Camp.
An exceptional amount of snow has literally buried the tents of the climbers, forcing them to disassemble the little tents and shelter everyone in the large kitchen tent, turning continuously to shovel the terrifying accumulation – “Terrible situation [..] Fuck, 6 meters of snow! ” the understandable words of Simone, which continues:
“If the kitchen tent would break, we’d be really fucked in. Gas and gasoline are enough for 6 days, food for a few days longer, here is an ocean of moving snow, giant avalanches everywhere. The Base Camp has been wisely placed on a hilltop , windy but super safe “
An equally problematic situation for the Daniele Nardi team. Daniele and Tom Ballard went up to Camp 2, they slept there surrounded by frightening avalanches, fortunately passed to the side; they proceeded to the C1, writes Daniele, with a huge effort causing a lot of snow; besides at C2 a tent, with a lot of material and crampons by Karim Hayat, has disappeared; Rahmat Baig is practically out of the game, he had to go down to Gilgit to treat throat problems with antibiotics but he did not get well.
In addition, Karim declared “he does not want to die in this mountain”.
Therefore, the defection of the two Pakistanis from the expedition appears certain. In fact, Daniele wrote :
“I feel that we’ll need only one tent”
Daniele and Tom do not give up and proceed to check the conditions of C3, but will not sleep there because of the high danger of avalanches.
Unfortunately, in the lost tent, there was a lot of important gear for climbing …
Albert Frederick Mummery, defined by Hermann Buhl (who became the first giant of the 8000 Pakistani 8000), “one of the greatest alpinists of all time”, was perhaps too far ahead of his time: his attempt, the first ever, to climb an 8000, occurred in the Summer 1895, along with 3 other British alpinists and 2 carriers. A small team, “by fair means” (with loyal means), a forerunner of the alpine style. Mummery first attempted to climb along that central Spur, apparently reaching the 6100 meters, and then disappearing forever, together with the porters, in an attempt to transfer along the Rakhiot slope, to look for another access to the mountain.
To him is dedicated the name of the dreamed route, almost “plumb”, which rises above the Diamir glacier, and that climbs along a formidable rocky spur – the Mummery Spur or Rib, indeed – up to almost 7000 meters, where horrendous and gigantic seracs mark the passage on the Basin, that is the huge and crevassed plateau that finally leads to the “summit trapezoid” of the Nanga, last 1000 meters before the summit.
approx mummery spur route (d.nardi) nanga parbat
No mountaineer – except the Messner brothers, forced to descend along the spur or in its immediate vicinity, in the terrible crossing subsequent to the climb that led them to the summit up to the Rupal wall; place where Gunther found his death , almost arrived at the base on the glacier, killed by an avalanche, at the end of June 1970– no mountaineer has ever tried that line, considered suicide for the terrifying funnel of avalanches, looming seracs , the difficulty even to just access to the Spur, because the horribly crevassed glacier.
Reinhold Messner has always spoken of the potential route along the Spur as impossible and suicidal, a line “that does not lead anywhere”, full of objective dangers.
Messner declaration is understandable also in the light of what he felt on that wall and for the obvious presence of objective dangers: the constant breaking of the hanging seracs, with consequent discharge of avalanches, testified also in the beautiful video, directed by Francesco Santini, product by Daniele Nardi, “Toward the Unknown”. The hope of Nardi is that in winter the extreme temperatures reduce these discharges and that along the Sperone there is an area – rather narrow and random – where to climb without being excessively exposed.
No one except the Italian alpinist Daniele Nardi, this is 5th attempt on this path. Daniele Nardi and Elizabeth Revol are the only “team” that has reached the highest point on the Mummery Spur, at about 6450 meters in 2015.
Since then, other attempts have always stopped before, partly because Nardi has no longer found any companions willing to risk along that route: the same Elizabeth Revol, together with Tomek Mackiewitz, refused to join Nardi, both for the delay in the arrival of the italian alpinist at the Base Camp, both as because they had already begun the attempt along the route Messner Eisendle: the route that the two completed last year, at the very high price of the death of Tomek and of the freezing and loss of Elizabeth’s feet toes , also she was rescued from Urubko, Bielecki, Tomala, Botor who were engaged in K2 – they rushed, with great courage and humanity, to try to save the two ; an attempt that ended with the recovery of the Revol at 6100 meters just above the Kinshofer wall and with the impossibility of trying to climb over 7000 meters where Tomek stopped, killed by a probable cerebral edema.
This year, finally, Daniele Nardi has managed to form a team of 4 climbers for the challenge to the Mummery: himself, the Pakistani mountaineers Karim Hayat, Rahmat Ussain Baig and the very strong young Tom Ballard, English alpinist already able to climb the 6 North of the Alps in winter and alone, 26 years: Cima Grande di Lavaredo, Pizzo Badile, Matterhorn, Grandes Jorasses, Petit Dru and Eiger.
In the first 10 days of shipping, the team showed a formidable harmony and managed to set up 3 camps, the c1 at 4700 meters as a storage depot, the c2 at 5200 meters towards the glacier exit, and the c3 inside a crevasse, at the base of the actual rocky spur at 5700 meters.
In the next days the expedition will face the real rocky wall.
“the unfinished business of last generation”, così Jeff Lowe, autore del primo storico tentativo di 100 tiri, su 103 previsti più o meno, definisce la cresta Nord del Latok I.
Avevano superato le difficoltà maggiori ma brutto tempo e le condizioni di salute dello stesso Jeff Lowe, costrinsero i 4 grandi alpinisti americani al rientro.
Uno dei più grandiosi fallimenti in stile alpino, che ha ispirato generazioni di alpinisti di tutto il mondo a riprovarci, senza mai avvicinarsi non alla vetta ma nemmeno ai 7000 su 7145 mt del 1978.
Le prime anticipazioni della clamorosa salita di un trio Anglo Soveno, composto da Ales Cesen, Luka Strazar e Tom Livingstone . parlano di una variante che ha evitato la parte finale della cresta ; quale sia la via scelta, questa impresa è comunque storica, stupefacente. E’ la seconda assoluta al Latok I.
Basti dire che per Tom Livingstone era la prima grande spedizione, anche se il giovane 27enne gallese ha nel suo carnet un’invernale allo Sperone Walker. numerose difficili invernali in Scozia, e una spedizione in Alaska. Di Ales Cesen, 36 anni che dire? Un fuoriclasse capace di scalare tutto in Yosemite, in Himalaya, in Karakorum il Giv ; Luka Strazar, a 22 anni nel 2011 una prima sul K7 e molto altro.
È con una certa emozione, dunque, che aspettiamo di vedere la partitura scelta in quest’opera, compiuta in una settimana, dal giovane trio, che anche se non chiude l’ ” unfinished business”, renderà Jeff Lowe molto contento, anche per il salvataggio del russo Guzov che su Facebook lo stesso Lowe ha seguito e commentato con apprensione : è a lui, a George Lowe, a Jim Donini, a Michael Kennedy, che va il tributo riconoscente e ammirato per un’ispirazione durata 40 anni.
..ma il nostro pensiero speciale va al giovane alpinista russo Sergey Glazunov , morto recentemente mentre scendeva in doppia, dopo un tentativo con Alexander Gukov , quest’ultimo salvato dopo una terribile settimana in parete da piloti pakistani militari…
Secondo le testimonianze di Alexander Gukov, che ha dimostrato un’onestà sincera, Sergey è uscito dalla parete raggiungendo2 l’anticima del Latok I, appena 50 metri sotto ; Sergey era convinto fosse la cima, ma Alexander, secondo di cordata, dalla sua prospettiva si è accorto che la cima vera era poco più distante. Detto questo, capiamo come i russi abbiano quasi sicuramente superato il limite raggiunto dagli americani nel 1978 e percorso integralmente la cresta Nord.
Purtroppo, sappiamo cosa è successo in seguito.
Anna Piunova, redattrice in capo del prestigioso sito russo mountain.ru, instancabile organizzatrice e punto focale anche per i soccorsi all’alpinista russo bloccato a 6200 metri, ha ricevuto il seguente SMS da Aleš Cesen:
” Abbiamo seguito la cresta nord per 2/3, poi ci siamo spostati a destra, salendo il colle tra il Latok I e II, infine abbiamo continuato sulla parete Sud fino alla cima. Per noi, era la linea più logica e sicura in quella situazione. Ci abbiamo messo sette giorni, tra scalata e discesa.”
Nei prossimi giorni sapremo di più sulla seconda salita assoluta del Latok I da Cesen & Co., avremo maggiori dettagli sulla salita di Gukov e non dimentichiamo che alla base della montagna pakistana dovrebbe esserci un certo Thomas Huber ….
Le vie sui Latok
In una documentata ricerca di Stefano Lovison su alpinesketches pubblicata nel 2014, che riprende a sua volta uno splendido articolo di Montagne 360° di Carlo Caccia, troviamo una cronologia dei tentativi al Latok I, per la maggior parte sulla inviolata cresta Nord (cit), che riportiamo, integrandola con i tentativi salienti, dal 2015 fino ad oggi. Prima, ringraziando ancora Stefano Lovison, riprendiamo la sua bella mappa fotografica, con indicazione di alcune vie e vari tentativi, aggiungendo le probabili linee delle 2 spedizioni recenti, la russa e la angloslovena di questo Agosto 2018 :
Luglio-Settembre 1975 Un team giapponese guidato da Makoto Hara circumnaviga il gruppo dei Latok via Biafo, Simgang, Choktoi, Panmah e ghiacciai Baltoro. Valanghe e frane impediscono qualsiasi tentativo significativo.
Luglio-Agosto 1976 Un team giapponese guidato da Yoshifumi Itatani tenta il couloir tra i Látok I e III (Látok Est), raggiungendo circa 5.700 m. prima di tornare indietro di fronte alla caduta di seracchi.
Agosto-settembre 1977 Un team italiano guidato da Arturo Bergamaschi esplora il percorso tentato dai giapponesi nel 1976 ma decide che è troppo pericoloso. Fanno la prima salita della Latok II dal ghiacciaio Baintha Lukpar.
Giugno-Luglio 1978 Gli americani Jim Donini, Michael Kennedy, Jeff Lowe e George Lowe tentano la lunghissima cresta nord, impiegando 26 giorni in capsula-style . Raggiungono in punto più alto finora raggiunto a circa 7000 m.
Giugno-luglio, 1979 Un team giapponese guidato da Naoki Takada compie la prima (e finora unica) salita del Latok I attraverso la parete sud. Dopo un lungo assedio e con l’impiego di molte corde fisse e tre campi a sinistra del canalone tra Latok I e III, sei alpinisti raggiungono la cima.
Luglio 1982 I britannici Martin Boysen, Choe Brooks, Rab Carrington e John Yates tentano la cresta nord due volte, la seconda fino ad un punto a circa 5.800 m.
Luglio 1986 I norvegesi Olav Basen, Fred Husøy, Magnar Osnes e Oyvind Vlada tentano la cresta nord, fissando almeno 600 metri di corde fisse e di raggiungendo i 6.400 m. dopo 18 giorni di scalata. Passano altri 10 giorni tra bufera e neve pesante prima di arrendersi.
Luglio-Agosto 1987 I francesi Roger Laot, Remy Martin e Laurent Terray installano corde fisse sui primi 600 metri della cresta nord. Per una forte nevicata tornano indietro da un’altezza di circa 6.000 m.
Giugno, 1990 I britannici Sandy Allan, Rick Allen, Doug Scott e Simon Yates e l’austriaco Robert Schauer compiono una serie di ascensioni nella zona ma non tentano quello che è il loro obiettivo primario a causa di condizioni difficili e pericolose e per la molta neve sulla cresta nord del Latok I.
Luglio-Agosto 1992 Jeff Lowe e Catherine Destivelle tentano la cresta nord, incontrando enormi funghi di neve sul percorso. Carol McDermott (Nuova Zelanda) e Andy McFarland, Andy MacNae e Dave Wills (Gran Bretagna) raggiungono circa i 5900 m. sulla cresta durante due tentativi nella stessa spedizione.
Luglio-Agosto 1993 Gli americani Julie Brugger, Andy DeKlerk, Colin Grissom e Kitty Calhoun tentano la cresta nord, tornando a circa 5.500 m. a causa del brutto tempo.
Agosto-settembre 1994 Gli alpinisti britannici Brendan Murphy e Wills Dave tentano la cresta nord raggiungendo i 5600 m. sul loro secondo tentativo.
Luglio-Agosto 1996 Murphy e Wills ritornano sulla cresta nord, raggiungendo circa 6100 m. metri prima del ritiro a causa della perdita di uno zaino. Due tentativi successivi sono ostacolati a 5900 m. dal cattivo tempo.
Agosto 1997/1998 Gli americani John Bouchard e Mark Richey tentano la cresta per tre volte, l’ultima con Tom Nonis e Barry Rugo, raggiungendo il punto più alto a 6100 m. A differenza delle precedenti spedizioni, riscontrano temperature elevate e condizioni di asciutto che portano alla caduta di rocce dalla parte alta della parete. Seguendo un pilastro di roccia dal fondo della parete, trovano una linea superba con difficoltà fino a 5.10. Torneranno l’anno successivo sulla North Ridge per un altro infruttuoso tentativo a causa del maltempo.
Agosto 2001 Wojciech Kurtyka (Polonia) e Yasushi e Taeko Yamanoi (Giappone) hanno un permesso per la cresta nord ma non riescono ad attaccare a causa di avverse condizioni meteorologiche. Stein Gravdal, Halvor Hagen, Ole Haltvik e Trym Saeland (Norvegia) raggiungono circa 6.250 m. dopo 15 giorni sulla via.
2004/2005/2006 I fratelli Benegas (Argentina) tentano la cresta nord per tre anni di fila. I primi due anni avversati dal cattivo tempo nonostante le ottime condizioni della montagna. Nell’agosto del 2006 una forte tempesta li ferma a circa 5500 m.
Agosto 2006 Maxime Turgeon e Louis-Philippe Menard (Canada) tentano la futuristica parete nord, ritirandosi da 5.300 m. a causa del gran caldo e delle condizioni estremamente pericolose della parete. Rivolgono quindi la loro attenzione sulla cresta nord ma si ritirano per la troppa neve fresca.
2007 Tentativo degli americani Bean Bower e Josh Wharton
Luglio 2008 Secondo tentativo di Wharton e Bowers che tentano la cresta ma sono avversati dal maltempo. Due soli giorni di bel tempo non permettono che il raggiungimento di 5500 m. di quota prima del ritiro.
Luglio 2009 Josh Wharton, Colin Haley e Dylan Johnson sono respinti dalla cresta nord del Latok I , dopo aver bivaccato a quota 5830 metri.
Luglio-agosto 2009 Álvaro Novellón e Óscar Pérez tentano la cresta raggiungendo circa i 5.800 m per le pessime condizioni della neve. Decidono quindi di cambiare obiettivo focalizzandosi sul Latok II (7.108 m) dove riusciranno nella prima salita completa della cresta nord-ovest. Questa notevole scalata purtroppo finirà in tragedia, quando per una caduta durante la discesa rimane gravemente ferito Pérez. Nell’impossibilità di trasportare il compagno, Novellón scende da solo per chiedere aiuto, creando una grande mobilitazione internazionale di salvataggio. Immobilizzato a 6500 metri sulla cresta nord-ovest del Latok II con una gamba e una mano fratturate, abbandonato alla sua sorte, per Óscar Pérez non fu più possibile alcun soccorso.
Luglio 2010 I Giri-Giri Boys Fumitaka Ichimura, Yusuke Sato e Katsutaka ‘Jumbo’ Yokoyama si ritirano dalla cresta nord a circa 5.900 metri per le condizioni di neve molto pericolose. Prima di questo tentativo la squadra aveva provato l’impressionante parete nord raggiungendo un’altezza di circa 5.900 metri.
Giugno-luglio 2011 Ermanno Salvaterra, Andrea Sarchi, Cege Ravaschietto, Marco Majori e Bruno Mottini. Dopo aver passato 6 giorni in parete e aver raggiunto quota 5.300 metri circa sono costretti al ritiro per il maltempo e pericolo di valanghe.
Luglio-agosto 2012 Tentativo dei russi Oleg Koltunov, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Shaman Valera e Ruslan Kirichenko.
2015 Thomas Huber rinuncia al tentativo per condizioni impossibili della parete
Agosto 2016 Thomas Huber al Latok I con Toni Gutsch, Sebi Brutscher, Max Reichel e gli statunitensi Jim Donini, George Lowe e Thom Engelbach . George e Jim, reduci del 1978, assieme a Thom per una scalata commemorativa in un 6000 della zona. Il dramma sull’Ogre II e la scomparsa dei fortissimi Adamson e Webster, spingono Thomas Huber a prendere parte a un tentativo di salvataggio, con salita della cresta a 6200 mt sull’Ogre II, dopo le infruttuose ricerche in elicottero. Il team, nonostante Huber volesse fare un tentativo, decide di non affrontare la cresta del Latok I per le condizioni della parete, oltre al segno lasciato dal dramma sull’Ogre II
Luglio-Agosto2018 Tentativo dei russi Alexander Gukov e Sergey Glazunov. Sergey Glazunov guida da primo l’ultimo tiro su una torre in uscita dalla cresta Nord, convinto di essere in cima . Al rientro, Glazunov muore per caduta e Gukov rimane bloccato per giorni a 6200 metri, prima del salvataggio in extremis, compiuto dai coraggiosi piloti dell’Askari Aviation militare, tramite longline. Proprio in questi giorni Gukov, dall’ospedale, testimonia che secondo lui hanno scalato tutta la cresta ma che la torre era circa 50 metri più in basso della vera cima. Analizzando la topologia, se verrà confermata questa versione, la cresta nord è stata integralmente scalata. Il team anglo sloveno composto da Cesen, Livingstone e Strazar, compie una salita della cresta nord “per 2/3, poi traversando sul colle tra Latok I e II, transitando sulla Sud per arrivare in cima..la linea più sicura e logica per noi..” . Insomma, una variante della via del 1978 con probabili innesti su vie già percorse, parzialmente, ma comunque seconda assoluta del Latok I. Thomas Huber è in arrivo sulla montagna, al momento in cui scriviamo: vuole effettuare un tentativo dopo la consueta stagione, convinto che il riscaldamento globale possa aver posticipato i tempi proficui per un tentativo alla cresta Nord. Non sappiamo se ha cambiato idea…
The exceptional images of the drone piloted by Bartek Bargiel, brother of mountaineer Andzrej (engaged in the attempt to climb the K2 and subsequent descent with ski), which show Rick Allen on Broad Peak, reported missing and probably died as a result of non-return from his solitary summit attempt.
Rick Allen, a very tough Scottish hide, had fallen for a few hundred meters, fortunately without serious injuries, but had found himself out.
Thanks to the help of the drone (and the cook of the expedition, the first to have spotted his backpack with the Camp Base telescope) the rescuers happily met and helped get off Rick, then evacuated by helicopter.
OFFICIAL Medical Statement released by LUDOVIC GIAMBIASI, MANAGER OF ELIZABETH REVOL
After talking with Elisabeth here is my opinion about the pathology probably responsible for the death of Tomek.
He had been ill for a few days, his digestive troubles, like any other health problem, even minimal, were enough to impact the body’s ability to acclimatize.
Elisabeth evokes very well the big fatique that Tomek presented when arriving under the summit with the rise … “he had a lot of trouble advanced”.
This is due to dyspnea (abnormal shortness of breath felt-one of the first signs of HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema).)
On the beginning of the descent, a cough associated with dyspnea, a sign of Alveolo-bronchial irritation due to the presence of fluid in the pulmonary alveoli (exudate that comes from the vessels) .
At this stage, the evolution is systematically fatal in the absence of very important descent, the mechanisms of acclimation being defeated.
Tomek blindness may be due to several things (major snow ophthalmia or hemorrhage or retinal ischemia problem seen in this context).
The state of Tomek has therefore worsened despite the descent around 7300 meters.
It can be imagined that Tomek had an acclimation threshold (threshold altitude beyond which his body is unable to acclimate physiologically) which was between the maximum altitude reached by Tomek in the past and the top of the Nanga Parbat (see threshold inf due to the inflammatory state punctual due to his “gastro”).
Elisabeth describes very well “traces of blood in the beard of Tomek …. it is the ultimate sign of HAPE … a” foamy pink exudate “which corresponds to the bronchial secretions with a little blood from the lesions alvéolo TOMEK’s HAPE was in its final stage, its oxygen saturation was to be particularly impaired and its ability to progress due to lack of fuel (= oxygen) at its lowest (hence its abandonment to climb back up to reach camp 2 or 3)
Tomek does not seem to have had high altitude cerebral edema because no neurological signs are present from what Elisabeth tells me. He remained coherent, non-delusional and conscious until very late. Tomek’s Disorders of Consciousness in the crevice probably due to deep hypoxia).
Tomek most likely died in the hours that followed (3,4,5 hours) falling asleep without suffering at all.
A little personal opinion about Elizabeth’s hallucinations because she will hear anything and everything.
These are not due to cerebral edema in my opinion because were resolutive … she recovered her shoe and had the lucidity to go down. Brain edema, such as pulmonary edema, would have increased without any improvement and evolved into coma then certain death without rapid and complete descent.
Dr. Frédéric CHAMPLY doctor of the medical unit of high mountain of the Hospitals of the Country of Mont Blanc Head of the Emergency Department / Mountain Medicine Head of CESIM SEMO_ Hospitals of Mont Blanc 380 Hospital Street 74700 SALLANCHES
“SOS frostbite” is an open line H24 / 7J after which a mountain doctor of our team responds and gives advice on frostbite, grade (stage) frostbite and advises … advice is free – +33 4 50 47 30 97
The brutality of the events on the Nanga Parbat, the frenetic development of the Rescue Mission, solidarity and crowdfunding on Social and the contemporary wave of controversy over the meanings of these expedition, the accusations and poisoned doubts, about everything, from rescue bills, to rescue strategy, helicopter flights , corrupted governments and so on.
The Epic of Survival and the tragic choices, the extraordinary nature of human and mountaineering performances, the emotion and the joy for an incredible rescue.
The pain for the death of Tomek Mackiewitz, so tragic and at the same time already in process of elaboration and transfiguration, the collective process of sudden realization of his extraordinary, complex and contradictory figure and yet so pure and spiritual, his obsession and of his dream, light and innovative, ascetic, insane.
“The Keeper of the Nanga”, now they call him: no longer the madman, the drug addict, the ill-advised.
Respect and admiration for a woman like Elizabeth Revol, able to bear a gigantic burden of responsibility, attached to life with an unshakeable, dignified and standing determination, refusing crutches, before being taken to the hospital. Now she will have to face the harsh physical and psychic consequences of an adventure at the limits of human endurance, and she is already harassed,through her pages on Facebook by improvised judges on the media, who demand explanations and proofs.
The hypocrisy and ignorance of those who scream anger because no one wanted to save Tomek, here I think these thoughts offend his own Memory. Tomek knew perfectly what he did and what he risked. In the previous six times he tried his dream on Nanga Parbat, he had always shown that he knew when it was time to return to the Base, not to risk his life unnecessarily. He loved his children and his wife madly, he wanted to go back home. But he wanted badly to go there.
From what we know, hestarted to get sick at the top, at 8126 meters. When Elizabeth left her, the next morning, after a bivouac outside at 7500 meters and a desperate descent to 7200 meters, he was no longer able to move, to see and frostbites were serious. Although he was a man of extraordinary resistance, we know from the medical literature and from previous incidents, that within 48 hours death is certain, in case of cerebral edema, if you are not cured and taken immediately to a low altitude.
We could can talk in the future, and it will happen, on how well they were acclimatized, on the fact that the window of good weather was too small, that they attacked the summit from too far.
Sometimes it’s just damned bad luck, because Elizabeth not only did not have problems, but survived the following days in inhumane and deadly conditions.
Tomek Mackiewitz and Elizabeth Revol have opened and completed, in alpine style, the route started by Messner and Eisendle on the extreme side of Diamir Face, arrived at the saddle at 7500 meters on the Basin, they went down in front of the summit trapezoid, crossing the Kinshofer route , then they climbed at the top .
From now on, we will talk about the Mackiewitz-Revol route and one of the first winter in pure alpine style.
The Poles and the Rescue. We do not have to spend too many words, as Wielicki pointed out. “We did what we had to do”. They have saved a human life and have greatly ennobled the spirit of the true mountaineering community, the Brotherhood of Rope. Where a great human named Denis Urubko , Russian, then a Kazakh national, then a little Italian from Bergamo, then a Polish national, ran to meet a Frenchwoman, finding her in the dark of the wall and greeting her in English “Elizabeth! Nice to meet you”