Weathering a Storm on K2

Aug 9, 2012
Outside Magazine

800px-K2_2006bK2. Photo: Kevin Mayea/Wikimedia Commons

Roughly a week after Explorers Web reported that 28 people reached the summit of K2 in a single day, at least one expedition found themselves trapped in a storm on the side of the mountain. Climber Al Hancock has filed a dispatch on his blog about the episode. It involves dividing up his team so that an inexperienced porter could be led back to Base Camp, surviving an avalanche, weathering a storm for five days, and then losing a tent in high winds.

Hancock runs through the ordeal in great detail, including a trip to the bathroom that could have ended in the worst way.

The next morning as if in a wind tunnel I unzipped the tent vestibule and looked out, I could only see 30ft in every direction, we were in the middle of a bad storm.

That day I ate a freeze-dried meal. Then around 2 a.m. I awoke with pains in my mid section. I put on my boots, jacket, hat and gloves, unzipped the tent, and, as I did so, snow came pouring in as if it were a water fall. I dragged myself out on my hands and knees and stood up. The wind slammed into me, almost knocking me off my feet. Following the beam of my head torch I went toward the rock outcrop and down a few feet, careful not to slip. I had no crampons on and the slope was 45 degrees with a potential fall off of two and a half thousand feet. With the wind howling all around me I dropped my long johns to my ankles, hovering inches above the snow. The only thoughts I had were "Oh, God, don't let me slip now."

To read the full report, which is "to be continued," go to

H/T: The Adventure Blog

—Joe Spring

Filed To: Climbing

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