“The cliffs and ridges of K2 rose out of the glacier in one stupendous sweep to the summit of the mountain, 12,000 feet above. The sight was beyond my comprehension…I saw ice avalanches, weighing perhaps hundreds of tons, break off from a hanging glacier nearly two miles above my head; the ice was ground to a fine powder and drifted away in the breeze long before it reached the foot of the precipice, nor did any sound reach my ears.” –Eric Shipton, upon his first view of K2 (from the north side) in 1937
After a week of trekking, along the raging braided channels of the Braldu River to the endless gravel, boulders and ankle-breaking cobbles of the Baltoro and Godwin Austen Glaciers, I have arrived at the foot of the world’s second highest mountain. It’s not an exaggeration to claim that this is the single most mountainous valley in the world, dubbed by Galen Rowell as the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods.
Overall, the trek was objectively challenging but I did a good job keeping it relatively comfortable. Not easy, considering it’s about 65 rugged and dirty miles. I nursed a few things along the way (sinus and cold symptoms, very minor GI issues back in Skardu), but I’ve been able to bounce back quickly each time. So I’m hoping a couple days here in base camp will help my sore throat from all of the huffing and puffing in the cold dry air. My acclimatization is outstanding…I can’t even tell I’m at altitude here at base camp at 16,000 ft, so I’ll be eager to start getting higher ASAP for some added stimulus.
From here, we’ll rest, sort gear and prepare for our first rotation up the mountain. We’re the first large team to arrive attempting the Abruzzi Spur, so this likely means we’ll have our choice of good camping spots at the expense of additional work preparing the route.