K2: First Ski Descent

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From August 3, 2010. Below, Trey Cook's friend, David Schipper, relays information from Cook and Fredrik Ericsson's skiing expedition on K2.

As I was standing in line to enter the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City UT my phone rang with the familiar 88…. prefix. A few days ago Trey had emailed me from base camp to see if I was up for another round of summit/ sat phone reports. I haven't heard anything from him since but I did see a bunch of emails jumping around talking about sat phone challenges.

It was weird, in a way, to be inside the air-conditioned epicenter of the Outdoor Industry knowing my friends were attempting a great achievement in the real outdoors. How many other stories of courage and tenacity were floating around the minds of people standing near me? Who, in street clothes, has accomplished the greatness the marketing people in this building are trying to sell?

It took several tries to understand Frippe's explanation that Trey had left a day early and was in camp 3 even though he was calling from camp 2. Through long voice delays I learned Trey left a day early so he could get to camp 3 and take a rest day up high while the rest of the team. Fabrizio, Rolf, Gerlinde and a Canadian named Megan were at 2 with Frippe at 6400m.

Frippe's climb from base camp to camp 2 was made in warm temperatures, low winds and scattered clouds. Tomorrow's forecast calls for more clouds but reasonable temperatures and wind, with some snow possible. Summit day, or the 6th, is calling for great weather – warm, low wind and clear skies.

Tomorrow the group from camp 2 moves 3 while takes a rest day. Thursday everyone moves to camp 4 at 8000m on the shoulder. Then Friday (most likely late Thursday night) everyone moves to the summit. If they reach the summit by 2 PM on Friday Frippe will have to waste little time getting skiing. In our time zones that translates into 3 AM in Moab, UT and 11 AM in Sweden and France. If it takes him 6 hours to descent he may very well be using his headlamp for the last several hundred meters.

The snow on skiers right was good from 7800m down – very skiable, Frippe said about his ski descent from last weeks summit attempt. The climbing was difficult from all the rocks on the other side but the skiing was good. The terrain above the shoulder – to the summit – looks good but that remains to be seen.

So the weather, team and everyone's health looks good. If this mountain shows the slightest kindness they may be able to pull this off. Tomorrow is another day.

–David Schipper

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

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