Mountaineer Fabrizio Zangrilli recently stopped by Outside's office in Santa Fe to talk about his experience guiding 10 clients up K2 this past fall. Few alpinists have a resume to match. Zangrilli has been climbing for 22 years, has led more than 20 expeditions in the Karakorum and Himalaya, has led world class rescues, and has spent at least one year of his life on K2. He broke down the anatomy of the mountain and the special challenges of leading a large group. We covered Zangrilli's new venture before the climb and we were glad to hear—though he didn't reach the summit due to deep snow at the top—that his entire team remained safe. You can get an idea of the climb in this K2 gallery.
The 37-year-old Boulder, Colorado climber did not return home immediately after the expedition. Instead he volunteered to participate in an incredibly difficult rescue mission on Latok II in Pakistan. A Spaniard fell and broke his leg while attempting to summit the peak in August, and authorities called upon Zangrilli, who was already acclimatized and had a very unique set of skills, to help with the rescue. The team struggled against bad weather and a shortage of supplies. (Some resupply efforts were less than ideal as goods were dropped into a swamp from a helicopter traveling at high speed, leaving broken crates, wet sleeping bags, etc.) Though Zangrilli and his crew made a valiant attempt at rescue, poor weather forced the team to turn around 300 meters from the victim. Extreme conditions would have jeopardized the team's safety had it continued. A sad ending, but a necessary decision in what was an undeniably bold and courageous effort.
To hear a summary of Fabrizio's summer in his own words, check out fabriziozangrilli.blogspot.com.
Photo by Fabrizio Zangrilli