Locked In

“The need to climb comes from that tough, lonely place of searching for your dignity. You know, that place–where we actually choose to confront our weaknesses and fears, where we rebel against the terror of death–is actually about dignity. That’s why alpinism is not just the act of ascending a mountain, but also inwardly of ascending above yourself.” -Voytek Kurtyka

Tomorrow it starts. I am attempting K2 without supplemental oxygen. We have an intricate and excruciatingly hard plan…not out of choice, but necessity. The hope for perfect conditions and a beautiful, long weather window has predictably come and gone. K2 isn’t so much inviting us up as it is allowing us a glimpse of what we need…48 or so hours of 30 km/hr or less wind on the summit before it goes back to nuking. We are betting on the 26th (historically K2’s most popular summit day…44 ascents all time) but the window could move backward to July 27-28. I suppose it could also move forward in which case we have no chance to even be in position anyway. We only have the resources (not to mention the physical strength and sheer will) for one attempt, so this is it. So my plan as it stands follows:

July 23: Direct to Camp 2

July 24: Camp 2 to Camp 3

July 25: Camp 3 to Camp 4. Leaving early so we can be in camp by noon to hydrate and rest. Departure for summit around 10-11PM.

July 26 (Technically starting late at night on the 25th): Summit day and descend as far as possible. I expect at least 12 hours up and I will descend as long as I need to get safe. I am climbing with Nima who will be on oxygen and have extra for me in case I have a problem.

July 27: If this is summit day, I will likely take an extra day on the 24th or 25th in Camp 2 or Camp 3. I can not afford to spend extra time in Camp 4 without oxygen. Otherwise, descend to BC.

July 28: Reserve/descent

I will bring my DeLorme messenger up so “Where’s Hari” will be active. However, I may not take this on summit day (I am counting grams), so don’t expect communication/updates for periods as long as 48 hours or more.


I hope I’m not being too greedy by asking K2 for a chance. After looking up at winds ripping its icy flanks for the past month, I’d say I’ve already been humbled. But luck is nothing more than preparation and opportunity. I am hyperfocused garnished with a bit of aggression. I am ready for things to be far from perfect. I am prepared to suffer. If this mountain gives me a sliver of a chance, I am going to explode.


6 thoughts on “Locked In

  1. AG

    “I hope I’m not being too greedy by asking K2 for a chance”. No you are not as you are so respectful to the mountain. Good luck!

  2. Dad

    Dear Hari

    I’ve have tried for many years to understand your passion for climbing. I understand this: Life is a journey within. Whether we seek high peaks or just attempt mundane things, life will demand the utmost of us whether we seek it or not. Suffering comes whether we seek it or not. Attempting to do anything well, demands care, focus and surrender. After all, how much do we really control? So many things are done for us without our needing to think about them — digestion, respiration, the right thoughts at the right time. We only notice these automatic things when they do not happen in their normally perfect way. You’ve been studying mountains since you were five-years-old for crying out loud! You’ve been called to this pursuit, just as others have been called to other pursuits. But no matter where you go, there you are. May the mountain bring you more deeply into your true nature. No person conquers any mountain; or anything else for that matter. However, by cooperating consciously with nature much may be revealed. Stay within and listen.


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