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August 21, 2007
Alex Gavan is back to Romania








August 19, 2007
Some final thoughts from the expedition








August 11, 2007
Last days before the flight back to Romania








August 09, 2007
The Way Back








August 06, 2007
Alex Gavan on Gasherbrum 1 summit



August 02, 2007
Gasherbrum 1 Summit Movie and Photos



                                   

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                   



On July 30, at 16,00 pm I reached the summit of Gasherbrum 1 after a 14 hours difficult ascent from Camp Three at 7000m.

That day 6 people reached the summit, in this order, within 30 minutes between the first and the last: Pawel Mihalski (Polonia, he also climbed Cho Oyu), Mehdi Efetihmar (Iran, first Iranian ascent of Gasherbrum 1; he also climbed Dhaulagiri), Jordi Jill (Spania), Alex Gavan (Romania), Jean Troillet (Franta, with nine eight thousanders under his belt) and polar exlorer Mike Horn (South Africa).

It has been the first Romanian ascent of Gasherbrum 1 and also the first alpine style ascent of a Romanian climber of an eight thousand meter mountain.

This season around 20 climbers summited G1 (I don’t have yet the exact number).

G2 had no ascent from the Pakistani side due to extreme avalanche danger (although is considered much more simpler than G1). Three Italians made the first ascent of the North Face of G2 (with two of them reaching the summit) and descended the Carsolio variant of the normal route.

Two German climbers from the Amical group died in one avalanche between Camp Two and Camp Three at 7000m and one Czech climber fall to his death on an ice culoir while on his summit bid on G1, one day before my ascent.

Overall, there has been periods with one week of snow followed by some 2-3 days of good weather, much too less for the conditions on the mountain to get safe.



August 01, 2007
Alex is the first romanian climber to reach Gasherbrum 1!








July 26, 2007
Alex wants to try a fast ascent to the summit








July 22, 2007
Andrei takes the decision to leave the expedition
Alex remains in the base camp hoping for at least five days of good weather








July 20, 2007
Several alpinists are caught by avalanches, two of them died
Alex and Andrei remained safe in the base camp





July 18, 2007
The avalanches keeps Alex and Andrei in the base camp








July 16, 2007
Bad weather goes on
Avalanche danger on the way to camp 2








July 15, 2007
Change of plans because of the bad weather
Andrei reaches Camp 3 (~7000m)








July 12, 2007
Closer to the summit








July 11, 2007
Closer to the summit








July 10, 2007
Preparing for the summit








July 05, 2007
Camp 1 - 5700m








July 04, 2007
German climber dies on the mountain
Preparing for climbing to Camp 1 and Camp 2








July 02, 2007
Acclimatization and preparing








June 29, 2007
Acclimatization continues in the advanced base camp








June 28, 2007
3rd day in Base Camp








June 25, 2007
Gasherbrum Base Camp, ~5000m



                                   

               

Yesterday, june 24 we finally reach Base Camp at about 5000m altitude on the upper part of the Abruzzi Glacier, 8 hours from Concordia. Given no shadow where to hide, our one week 80 km trek from Askole and along the Baltoro Glacier was loooong and arduous but it helped a lot with our acclimatization since we progressively spent nights at intermediate altitudes at around 3105m, 3450m, 4130m, 4380m and 4600m. And that’s the right and wise thing to do when arriving at altitude: just take it easy and let your body get used with the lack of oxygen in the air. For a short explanation of the acclimatization process you can check my previous expedition update from the last year on Cho Oyu at http://chooyu.cloudclimbing.ro/index.php?page=8&lang=1 and see the September 13th post. To date, the weather has been absolutely perfect, a strange thing for the Karakoram. Let’s hope will keep it like that as long as possible. By the time of our arriving in Base Camp it seemed no team had reached and established yet Camp 1 over the ice fall at around 5900m. And some guys are already here for ten days. Apparently the ice fall is very dangerous this year and fixing the ropes and negotiating the crevasses will take a lot of work. From our tents we can only see Gasherbrum 1, G 2 being hidden by some ridges of Gasherbrum VI.

Today and yesterday we had witnessed three avalanches on the slopes surrounding the Base Camp: the first being along the path we came from Concordia, quite late in the evening; the second just coming down from Gasherbrum 1 in the very morning and completely traversing the ice fall and the third, a “small” one, just coming down the Baltoro Kangri. Just to remind us there is no real algorithm of producing these events. To minimize the danger we plan to go up to Camp One early in the morning, maybe 2 or 3 a.m. while everything shall be dead frozen. But this no earlier than June 27th since we still need to acclimatize. Further on we intend to establish 2 more camps at around 6500 and 7100m. We still have to decide whether to make our summit bid directly from from Camp 3 at 7100 or to go for a lighter Camp 4 at around 7400m. In this moment I personally prefer to go directly from Camp 3 and have a longer and more difficult summit day than spend a night more at altitude in Camp 4. I think this is safer but much much more demanding. But let’s see first how both Andrei and myself will feel.


June 24, 2007
Gasherbrum 1&2 Expedition - Base Camp



                   




June 23, 2007
Goro Camp, 4380m - two days to Base Camp








June 22, 2007
Goro, 4380m



                   




June 20, 2007
One Day Before Baltoro Glacier



               




June 19, 2007
Paiju Camp - 3400m




June 18, 2007
Gasherbrum 1&2 - 6 days to base camp




June 17, 2007
Askole, 3105m, Baltistan


Today we arrived in the remote village of Askole by jeep from Skardu, during a 6 hours, 150 km, wild ride. We are at about 950 km distance from Islamabad and this is the point where tomorrow at 6,30 in the morning we will start our 7 days trek to the Base Camp. The porters are ready, some of them being hired along the way, some being local villagers. Askole lies in one of the most fairy tale destinations I have ever seen. Few houses side by side on a grassy terrace. Mountains everywhere. And the poorness. Of course, we cannot speak about electricity here. The people and their cattle live almost side by side. No glass windows, no floors. The local teacher told me they think they ancestors came from Tibet long time ago. Couldn’t say more. A time suspended village to remind me of the basic things that we in Romania are taking for granted but almost never notice or appreciate it for what it worth’s. The video images speak for themselves.


June 16, 2007
Skardu, 2340m, Baltistan



                               

               


If you get through your first day in Pakistan then you shall start thinking that up there, almost 8 km difference in altitude, there are two mountains to be climbed.

We reached Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, on June 13th after a 19 hours flight from Bucharest, with plane changing in Athens and Bahrain. This only after having an “adventure” with Olympic Airlines who canceled its flight to Athens into the last moment due to “technical” reasons (to be read: most probably due to the lack of enough passengers to make the flight affordable for the company). In the already known Asian style (I’m at the third expedition in this part of the world) we found out from Ali, the guy waiting us to the airport, that the very next day we shall leave for the Base Camp (when we should have left in three days instead?). I managed somewhat to deal with my initial angry that the stuff it’s not how it supposed to be and started to look at the bright side: we might save some good time for spending more up the mountain in case of the bad weather. But…this in the possibility of getting done everything we still had to buy in only one day. Last time in Kathmandu, Nepal it took us four days to do so. So, after just only a two hours nap we started a “marathon” shopping day. Boys only? ?. 40+ degrees Celsius, huge humidity, tons of dust, middle ages smelly (but picturesque and lively) bazaars, almost no traffic regulations…and…yes…no Fuji Provia slide films ? (although I was assured (yeah sure…) that I will find there; in the meantime I already ordered 40 rolls more, beside the 35 that I already have; they will hopefully reach me in Base Camp in three weeks time with an Austrian team). At the end of the day, on a complete darkness, we had almost everything, most important being the two car batteries that will store the energy given by the solar panels and the barrels to transport our equipment during the one week trek with the porters over the Baltoro glacier. I say complete darkness because starting few months ago there is a shortage of electricity in Pakistan ( it seems they don’t have enough dams) and the government decided to “save” on.

We left in the very morning of june 14th for our 11 days journey (hopefully, in case everything fits) to the Base Camp at about 5000m altitude. It’s somehow intriguing that in less than two weeks we’ll flip from 40+ Celsius degrees to even sometimes 40- in the cold nights. The trip to Skardu (with a night spent in Chillas at a quite cozy motel), the last city on our way and the “entry” points for the expeditions going for the highest summits in the Karokoram was a two days 800 km breathtaking journey in what might be one of the best places to see in a lifetime (and still more to come in the following days?. At it’s lower part we crossed a lovely sub Carpathian type region, and wondered to the damage it had got when the 2005 earthquake brought here a lot of suffering and despair. Luckily, there are some international NGO’s helping rebuild the area and supporting these people. The road starts to get on steeper and steeper slopes, with hundreds of meters below and amazingly built houses on the most unusual locations on even 500m altitude difference from the road, the only access being some shy path. There is a universe of mighty rocks with only unbelievably small green oases sheltering a house or two. I didn’t stop asking myself how these people manage to live here and what bad times brought them here. The road was through deep and narrow gorges and our driver made the ride much more exiting than it should really had to be. I just can’t understand why all these guys have this “lesser faire” attitude taken to its maximum all the time but when they get to drive. And they drive like possessed.

Driving further up the valley of the legendary Indus river ( it has always had a mystery aura on me since I was a child) we came to a point where, geologically three mountain ranges meet: Himalayas, Hindu Kush and the Karakoram. (just get on the internet and download the song “Halfway up the Hindu Kush” of Katie Melua and I bet you’ll just l-o-v-e it).
Some of the wise guys from the geographical societies refers to the Karakoram as being also a part of the Himalayas. For climbers this is doesn’t really matters. What really counts for them is the fact that four out of the fourteen summits in the world reaching abov 8000m lies here: K2 (8611m, the second highest after Everest), Broad Peak-8047m, Gahserbrum 1-8068m and Gasherbrum 2-8035m.

Skardu lies into the heart of Baltistan (the land of Balti people) and it’s the main city in the area. Though remote and difficult to access, the five valleys of Baltistan have been the means of contact between one empire and another, between one culture and another. Bfore they came under the influence of Buddhism, the baltis were animists; animism gave place to Shamanism and after that to Bon Po religion (4th-7th centuriesAD) only to be converted to Buddhism in the 8th century AD. Muslims conquered the area in the 15th century and from then on it’s people adhered to Islam. So strange the same area hosted so many different faiths along the years. In the same time, many races went through here. That’s why the Baltis are a curious mix of Tibetans, Afgans, Mongols, Kashmiris, Turks and Kirgiz. Today, after making final shopping (one more barrel and some snow stakes) we went to see a 2 millenia old carving of Buddha with a chopped box four meters above the groud. Locals says if you manage to throw a little stone in that carved place you’ll encounter plenty of luck on your way. Islamic locals namely. For me, in my European pragmatism was just a way to slowly destroy the monument, but…who can really know?!

Tomorrow we’ll drive by jeeps to Askole, a small village into the mountains from where we will start our trek to Base Camp. There we will hire our porters and let’s hope our “partnership” will finish without incidents since I still haven’t heard of one single expedition of having at least minor problems in dealing with them. (Alex)

After 5 days in Pakistan we are still into a very friendly landscape. We are at 2340m into a village called Skardu and only tomorrow we will enter into the wildest zone. The peoples are very friendly here, I don’t know why they are so scary warriors, but anyway I don’t want to find out. I didn’t see any Kalashnikov yet… at civil people of course.
You have to be very carefully what you eat and especially what you drink, because the local water could be infected whit different bacteria. Some mountaineers had to come back from the glacier because of this and their expedition could be over. There are many teams here: from Poland, Iran, Georgia, Sweden, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, USA and more. They are going to climb different peaks: Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II, Broad Peak and K2, all of them more then 8000m.
We will start the trek to the basecamp the day after tomorrow. The equipment and the food will be carried by porters till the basecamp (5300m). Each of them will carry 25kg. We need 7 days to reach the basecamp so it will be a long trek. The trek will follow deep valleys, crossing wild rivers, climbing steep sections and because of this they can’t use donkeys or yaks to carry the equipment. This trek is very famous, is considered the 5th most beautiful trek in the world, so it will be very interesting. (Andrei)



June 15, 2007
Pakistan






June 12, 2007
Before the Gasherbrum 1&2 Expedition







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