K2 wthout oxygen 2008 — day-by-day reports

Robert and Edwin attempted K2 in 2008, in the fateful Spring seasomthat saw record amount of snow fall and horrendous death and injury. Despite seeing the summit within touching distance, the duo abandoned their attempt and helped in the rescue.

The team returned to Singapore on 27 Aug 2008, much to the relief of family and friends, many of whom were worried after news broke of the 11 deaths on K2 that season. Not only did our guys survive the ordeal, they helped in the rescue and evacuation. Below are the reports they made:

Aug 15, Friday

The guys have packed up and will be leaving BC tomorrow. Sad as they are to leave behind the dream, they are glad they will be home to see their friends and loved ones.

Aug 14, Thursday

It has been a difficult week at base camp, looking at the mighty mountain that's almost close enough to touch, yet beyond the reach of our intrepid climbers. What's worse, the weather was so bad they managed to strip only the tents up to Camp 3. The tents and all the equipment, including 4 bottles of oxygen for Kami and Jamling, had to be left at Camp 4. With winds of 50 knots, it was not worth the risk of going up there. Some lucky team in the next season will benefit from that.

Aug 7,Thursday

It is with heavy hearts and great reluctance that the team has decided to abandon the summit bid. The Singaporeans’ decision was taken with great reluctance and heavy hearts. Said Dr. Goh: “The mountain is so near, yet so far. The tents and equipment are all up there ready for us. But with 11 climbers killed when the weather was perfect, it was just too shocking for words.

Aug 5, Tuesday

There are still a couple of climbers at Camp 1 and ABC waiting to be evcuated. They are seriously frost bitten and will nee to be carried down. BC is emptied of many of the expeditions that left after the incident. Rob and Ed have been discussing with the remain 2 or 3 teams as to what they could do about the rescue. No one is in any mood to think of a possible summit attempt. "We have to wait until things are more settled here," Ed said.

Aug 4, Monday

At noon at BC, the guys help in the evacuation of a Dutch climber. Another climber is expected to arrive at BC later in the day. Rob and Ed are spending the day going to the various camps to offer condolences. News of "nine climbers feared dead" broke on Bloomberg and "climbers missing" on Radio Australian on Sunday. This morning, it was over BBC world news.

Aug 3, Sunday

The guys are back in BC, where the mood is sombre. "There is a taste of death in the air," Robert said. Eleven deaths have been confirmed, including a couple of Sherpas with the Korean team. They were Jamling's childhood friends who had been coming to the Singapore camp to chat, laugh and drink.

Aug 2, Saturday

Rock fall on K2; our team OK

A massive avalanche above Camp 3 has wiped away the fixed ropes above Camp 3, leaving some 12 climbers stranded. There were also reports of at least 3 deaths. Our team woke this morning to a request from BC to stay put at Camp 3 and to gather food, fuel and oxygen for the rescued climbers and rescuers. They are in contact with BC every two hours, standing by to help iscue if needed.They will be spending a third night at Camp 3 which will surely leave their bodies even more debilitated

Their expedition now hangs in the balance, but that is the last thing on their minds, as lives are at stake.If you are so inclined, please pray for everyone on the mountain.

Saturday update -- Rob and Ed decided to descend to Camp 2 as no more climbes were expected to arrive at Camp 3 for some time. They needed to descend as they were losing a lot of weight.

Aug 1, Friday

An exhausted Robert reported that they went up to just below Camp 4, to the tip of the shoulder where they could see the bottleneck and teams heading to the summit. Then they turned round and returned to Camp 3. Having arrived late at BC, Robert and Edwin are not as acclimatised as they would have liked. They were moving 20% more slowly than the more acclimatised Koreans and Americans. They will be heading back to BC tomorrow to recouperate and wait for a summit window.

July 31, Thursday

Camp 3 (7,300m) - Climbing up to Camp 3 was a hard slog with fairly strong wind which caused the temperature to drop to way below the forecast -11?C. At this alttitude, they are also losing their appetite.

July 29, Tuesday

Camp 1 (6,050m)

Finally, after a long wait at Base Camp, the guys set off this morning for Camp 1. The weather is looking good for the next few days. This will be their final acclimatisation cycle.

July 26, Saturday

Just when patience is running thin, there is a crack in the awful weather. Most of the teams at base camp are starting their summit bid on Sunday. Our guys are waiting for them to get higher up to avoid the jam on the mountain and will head for Camp 1 on Tuesday. That's when the wind is expected to be milder.

"The windows at K2 are extremely narrow," Robert said. "They appear and then disappear in three or four days." Fingers crossed that this window will let them get up to Camp 4 to complete their acclimatisation.

July 19, Saturday

The team is back at BC, as there's no let up in the weather. Although snowfall is light, it is continuous, weighing down their tents and covering the ground with hlf a metre of snow. Plus it's cloudy.

"Climbing to Camp 2 is like going up Lohtse Face all the way," said Robert. "There are no flat sections to relieve the climb." Ed, who took a little longer to acclimatise, moaned, "It was an uphill right from the bottom -- 60 to 70 degree gradient wit no plateau. It was hard going." Kami and Jamling, however, had no problem. "K2 s very nice. It is not very difficult and not very easy," said Kami. "No problems."

The team will now have to wait for a decent good-weather window to make a last acclimatisation push to Camp 4

July 18, Friday

The men woke up to 20 knot winds, cloudy skies and light snow. They decided to stay put and see if conditions improve sufficiently tomorrowto go up to Camp 3.

July 17, Thurday

After an overnight at Camp 1 (6,050m), Rob and Ed arrived today at Camp 2 (6,700m), tired but satisfied with their progress. "K2 is no joke," Rob reported. "It's at least 10 times harder than Everest... so far. The terrain is relentless and exposed."

July 16, Wednesday

A day's rest was all they needed. The guys went up to Camp 1 today.

July 14, Monday

Rob and Ed, Kami and Jamling set off for Camp 1 and returned the same day to BC. It was hard going and the weather didn't help, with light snow.

July 13, Sunday

The Puja was conducted today as Kami felt the weather was good.The day before, the skies had dumped up to a metre of snow at 6,000m.

July 10, Friday

Rob and Ed arrived at K2 base camp.

July 7, Tuesday

The weather has turned and it was raining and cloudy when they arrived at Urdukas. NEA's forecast of rain and sleet for the next few daysis pretty accurate.

July 4, Saturday

Robert and Edwin, who left for islamabad on June 30, went to Skardu by bus on July 3. Today they set off for Askole, where it was "extremely dusty and hot", Robert reported via satellite phone.

June

SSC training to acclimatise to low oxygen

For several weeks Robert and Edwin have been training at the Singapore Sports Council, breathing low-oxygen air while on the threadmill under the care of SSC exercise physiologist Daniel Plews. Apart from its generous grant to the expedition, SSC offered this specialise training to prepare the climbers for the rarified air at K2.

In mid June, they are also going on a trek to a 4,000m high pass in Nepal to acclimatise to high altitude. With this, they will be even better prepared for their K2 expedition.

NEA offers weather forecasts

Another crucial factor in any expedition to a big mountain is the weather. For this, they turned to the National Environment Agency's Meteorological Division. The meteorologists will supply detailed charts on wind speeds and temperatures at different altitudes around the Karakorum region as well as pressure and precipitation readings and five-day weather forecasts

 

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RobertEdwin (left) and Robert At Everest Camp 4