1st Report – Int. K2 North Pillar Expedition 2011
Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner & Ralf Dujmovits
Today we’ll get from our base camp, located at 3900 meters.
Since we landed in Bishkek, a lot has happened.
Darek we already met at our stopover in Moscow, Maxut and Vassiliy then in Bishkek at breakfast in the hotel, where we could make a little fresh. After the two had her Chinese visa, we were able to drive off towards the Chinese border, first to Tash Rabat. A few lonely yurt were located at about 3000 meters our sleeping quarters. Yuri and his wife are the summer up there to entertain people passing by. A very nice couple Kyrgyz. The next morning we tried yet fermented mare’s milk from the neighboring small horse farm. A bit strange sbedürftiger taste, but should be said to be very healthy!
After several protracted border we reached Kashgar in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. For me, this city was unrecognizable. Muztagh Ata in 1995 after our expedition came to me the city with 200,000 inhabitants, yet manageable. Meanwhile, Kashgar is a city of 4 million residents!
Chip came here (Sandford Brown, he accompanies us as a journalist for National Geographic to the base camp) and to Tommy.
With Keyoum, the owner of our agency on the spot we had yet to discuss some things and organize. In the evening he took us to a traditional Uygur restaurant. As the Uyghur we started our meal with a bowl of yogurt and drank Safrantee.
Before we left for Yecheng towards K2, we visited the Sunday market. Sold a huge market where everything imaginable. A bakery on the other, where super fresh pita bread is offered about fruits, vegetables and countless other foods.
From Kashgar we took m Jeeps on it, what we wondered at first, because the roads are in good condition until Yecheng.
Immediately after Yecheng but we knew why. Sandy slopes, initially along the Taklamakan desert, led us through a 3500 meter high mountain pass into a first checkpoint. From there a steep bumpy dirt road ran over a 5000 meter high pass, this route is always open for only 3 days a month, the rest of the time many people are working under very dusty and harsh working conditions in a widening and asphalting of the road.
In Mazar, we had to stay unexpectedly, we were stopped by a total of three strong punctures in our vehicles. Furthermore, had the truck, which transported all the equipment and food, major problems with the transmission.
So we spent the whole day in Mazar located at 3700m, which was doing quite well our acclimatization. With a borrowed truck, we continued our journey continued to the evening Illik. In this last, very lengthy Millitärgrenzkontrolle the entire luggage was again inspected in detail.
In the village of 250 inhabitants Illik we drove directly to a Kyrgyz family where the father of 5 times the mayor and is also head of the camel drivers. This family took us in a very hospitable and even offered us their room to stay for the night. Overall, people are more cautious, you can feel that there are only a few tourists over.
Illik is a nomadic village. Only in the winter, people living in their simple mud houses. Every family has a few camels, which are gathered the next morning before the house of the mayor, his name is Dani.
Divide up the loads and loading of the camels was very exciting for us a long procedure. With 35 camels and camel drivers, 8, each riding on a donkey forward, we wandered to our first camp at 3450 meters.
The camels walk for hours without progress very smoothly and quietly to remain standing only once. The next stage was to below the 4800 m high Aghiles Pass, where we set up at Dani Alm 4450m on our tents. Danier wife was already with the whole flock of sheep up there a week before us and asked us the same one cup fresh Airan (yogurt) on. You will spend about 2 months on the pasture, a very nice woman.
During the night it had snowed a little, which for the crossing of the Aghiles passport but was not a problem. After hours of very sunny descent, we finally reached the Shaksgam valley from which Ralf and I had been dreaming for so long. A great view down into the broad riverbed, which is bordered to the right of the Dolomites and to the left of Shaksgam very steep erosion walls. The river meanders back and forth very strong and some times we needed the help of these camels to cross at all can be. Ralf, Darek and I sat for the first time on a camel. You must completely follow the rhythm of the animals. So the riding animals on the high functioning fairly well, although we were happy between the river crossings and over again to have firm ground under their feet.
This 5 day march in a beautiful, very lonely nature for all of us were very powerful. We are the only expedition to go here, and we also enjoy and appreciate very much.
It was not until the day we arrived at base camp we got a glimpse of the upper 1000 meters of K2, which was very, very impressive. Here from the base camp, we can not see our mountain. Involuntarily placed in us the question of what we can expect this time. From this side of the mountain shows that different, just new.
Our base camp in front of me is not really as a base camp. Pepper on a green meadow with donkey dung, we pitch our tents. Directly next door is over crystal clear water and our view stretches far out into the valley Shaksgam.
Here we will be staying only briefly. Yesterday (Monday) increased Maxut, Vassiliy and I with the camel drivers and their donkey to the so-called “Italy Base Camp” in order to establish an interim storage. The path to the advanced base camp is far away and for the asses probably not feasible. (From BC to ABC to about 20 kilometers). We appreciate the support of the camel drivers. This morning went to Italy and Darek Ralf BC (4650m) and will also come back again in the evening.
Tomorrow we want to stay up to then transport the equipment to continue to ABC, which will be a further increase of approximately 5 hours.
When we arrived at the ABC and set up, we will get back with you again.
For today, a very warm greeting!
Gerlinde with Ralf