23 August, 2011 – Start towards the Summit
After Gerlinde, Vassiliy, Maxut and Darek had spent an icy and bittercold night at 8,300m, they were getting ready for a 1am start in their cramped bivouac. Shortly after their departure at about 1.30am, they started having problems with their hands due to the intense cold. Even though the gradient above the bivouac is ‘only’ 45° – the climbers still have to stand on their forefeet most of the time. This reduces the blood circulation and with temperatures of -25°C leads to very cold feed.
On the 8th day of continuous climbing, it is very difficult to dry the innerboots – no matter how good the boots are. Furthermore, after 2 1/2 months of intense and exhausting climbing the body fat has been reduced to a minimum, which means it is more susceptible to the extreme cold.
The four climbers decided to return to their bivouc-tent to warm up, which was definitely the right decision. At 7.30am they left again for the summit and have made pretty good progress since then.
Once again, the day started cloudless and according to Charly Gabl, our friend and meteorologist in Innsbruck, this should continue all day long. The wind also seems to have died down completely. Last night, when they were melting snow to brew tea, it was completely still. Wednesday is supposed to be another beautiful day, which means it is also looking good for the descent.
As soon as we have news I’ll get back to you,
Ralf Dujmovits from K2-basecamp
1st Update – 11:15am local time
I have just spoken to Gerlinde by radio – she was at an altitude of about 8,400m. All four climbers are severely suffering from the cold, however, they are expecting to be climbing in the sun in about three quarters of an hour.
Then they will also reach the angular couloirs, which leads to the summit ridge and they are expecting better snow conditions there. Bearing all that in mind, the four are pretty confident. Gerlinde said that she was feeling good, given the circumstances.
We are keeping our fingers crossed!
Ralf Dujmovits as well as the home team