Throne Room of the Mountain Gods

Caution: K2 in real life may appear way bigger than on this screen

“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.

Gasherbrum IV, one of the worlds highest, most difficult and most beautiful mountains guards the hear of the Baltoro

 

Muztagh Tower

Broad Peak, the world’s 12th highest mountain and one of my objectives this summer

Mitre Peak

Amin chilling with one of the mules in Concordia

 

Winds blast Broad Peak from K2 base camp

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.

A bit of an underestimate of my trekking time this week as I always forget to turn on my watch! Averaged around 120bpm while trekking, enough to keep things conversational and try to breathe through my nose as much as possible to help my sore throat.

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.

Chogolisa. We met a great group of five Spanish climbers attempting a traverse

 

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