K2: Cesan Route

Aug 4, 2010
Outside Magazine

Below, Trey Cook's friend, David Schipper, relays information from Cook and Fredrik Ericsson's skiing expedition on K2.

Today's call showed up on my cell phone while I was having coffee before another day at the Outdoor Retailer Show. Trey and I chatted for 7 minutes with excellent clarity and the most relaxed conversation so far.

'Today was a crazy beautiful day...' said Trey. Inside the tent the temperature was over 40 degrees Celcius (Over 100F) during the heat of the day. There is a common misconception that high altitude climbing is super cold and frostbite is lurking everywhere. Though this is true a significant amount of the time there are also times with intense sun, little wind and uncomfortably hot conditions. Yesterday was a hot one.

The heat prompted a lot of movement on the mountain. Avalanches and rock fall could be heard all day. Luckily, actually purposefully, camp 3 is in a very safe aspect and there is very little chance of avalanche danger. Trey and Frippe were surprised late in the afternoon when a grapefruit sized rock flew through the top of their tent. Noone was hurt except the tent's feelings.

Frippe and the other climbers from camp 2 rolled into 3 at about 11:30 AM. The trip up was uneventful and the warm conditions were appreciated over high winds of last week. I should apologize to Ralf for misspelling his name. Until now I had been using an 'o' instead of an 'a'. We should be good now.

Trey was positively enthusiastic about the way things are shaping up for the summit attempt. The weather could not be better, the team is feeling excellent and this mountain appears to be showing some compassion.

Tomorrow's departure is scheduled for 5:00 AM with a goal of being in camp 4 at 8000m on the shoulder by 3:00 PM. Then as midnight nears they will start their huge day toward the summit.

In the rarified air of summiting K2 it is interesting to suggest that the real crux is yet to come for Frippe. Reaching the summit of this stunning peak has proved impossible for many climbers. It is a funny mix of timing, determination, and a great deal of luck. I find it hard to wrap my mind around the notion of then hopping onto skis and skiing through the traverse and bottle neck above the shoulder.

When pressed to make predictions on conditions and outcome of skiing success Trey simply said they won't know until they get there. The snow below them is looking good but the upper section below the summit is an unknown.

One of the things that makes altitude climbing occasionally compared to a drug, the part that is both terrifying and addictive, is the need to fully commit. There is a need to push to edge and dance along its fickle edge. Trey and Frippe are fully committed and it is that focus and drive that makes these remarkable men who they are.

More tomorrow as time and satellite phone connections permit. All the best boys!

--David Schipper

To learn more of Fredrik Ericsson’s past expeditions and his quest to ski the world’s three highest mountains check out FredrikEricsson.com.

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