After the post with the alpinismonline.com interview with Chhang Dawa Sherpa, head of the great winter expedition to K2 of the Seven Summit Treks agency, a competent reader claims that the answers to two questions are missing , which you can read below, and states that Dawa would have made two big mistakes. Errors that would have even caused the 4 deaths of February 5th. He proposes to turn the questions over to Dawa himself. In our opinion, however, he has already provided the answers. Here’s how and why.
Let’s start with the second question (see below), the one concerning the crevasse, because the answer is simpler: from 17 January, the day of the return to the CB of all 10 Nepalese returning from the first ascent, it was known that the crevasse obstacles existed on the normal route and that they had even moved to the South-South-East Spur to find a passage to the top of the mountain. If we wrote it, let’s imagine if it was not known to the whole base camp…
The choice of Snorri and his companions seems to have been different, according to the tracks of the Icelandic tracker.
They have passed the crevasse. After many doubts, however. Doubts that saved the life of Tomaz Rotar, who preferred to go back.
It must also be considered that Sajid Ali Sadpara would have overcome the crevasse even alone, on his return. It hasn’t actually made it clear. Indeed he says he does not remember.
His descent took so long (7 hours? He himself cannot explain it) that we would not be surprised to learn that he actually followed a different path (that of the Nepalese?).
As for the first question, it “skips” the premise. Dawa does not say that the climbers did not respect the times and schedules that day ( February 14 ), but always. The aforementioned climbers were not supposed to start climbing for c3, because they had already been slow or very slow in the climb to c2 (even double the recommended hours!). Mattia Conte , who unlike all the others was totally alone, consulted regularly with Dawa and got out.
The others not only did not comply with the instructions , but, as Dawa says, they did the most serious thing: they cut off communicationswith base camp. They turned off the radio, because they knew what they would hear …
Except then to call in the evening, when the situation at c3 was now unmanageable. But it had also become so because the last ones, although urged by those who were already at c3, refused to return to the low c3 (where there were tents for everyone).
If only the last 3 had done it, adding the respective Sherpas there would have been at least 6 fewer people in the c3 tents …
That said, obviously in the best of all possible worlds at c3 there would have been enough tents for everyone even after nearly 20 days of raging winds on the mountain. And cylinders in abundance. Also for Elia Saikaly , whom Snorri, in order to have the film of his ascent, had added to his expedition together with a sherpa and two high altitude porters, all not acclimatized.
However, it must be clear that on an 8000er mountain, even more so in winter, there can be no certainties and no one can give guarantees of this kind. Whoever turns to an agency must know that there is the boundary of the imponderable even if you pay dozens and dozens ofthousands of dollars .
And it must also be taken into account that the figure of the leader of a commercial expedition is not the same as that of a traditional expedition leader .
A Krzysztof Wielicki , just to make a famous example, consults with the climbers, but they then have to do what he decides (except for the Denis Urubko. Who, however, moved in self-responsibility in his solitary attempt on K2. He did not come back down accusing the expedition leader of not having given him enough material …). As we have seen, the indications of Dawa (this blog published them before the incidents and controversies …) were disregarded: everyone wanted to do and did his own thing. And luckily at c3 the majority of Sherpas, who wanted to avoid the aggravation of frostbite so as not to lose the opportunity to continue working, refused to go up.
The questions of one user:
“Nice interview that resolves some doubts, but not the two below which in my opinion were the 2 real big mistakes (inexplicable if not thinking badly) of Chhang, which contributed to the 4 deaths of the summit day. And that, if it were possible for you, I would send mail to Chhang to ask him:
1) Even if the culprits of arriving at camp 3 late in the evening without tents (Sykaris, Skatov, Lippert, Hanna, Valloton and their 5 SST sherpas) had respected the times by arriving earlier as Chhang requested, they still would not have found enough tents. Why wasn’t he told to take 2 from Japanese camp 3 once he realized there would be 20 to camp 3 with only 4 tents (10 total seats)? It was evident that the tents from 3 weeks ago would not be up and that this would mean zero rest for the climbers. 4 of which in fact then did not make it and 3/4 of these had brought THEIR tent and were forced to host the others.
2) Given that Sona Sherpa from SST was among the 10 on the summit and therefore passed the crevasse at 8000 meters with the Cesen variant between camp 3 and camp 4, because this was not told to the SST customers who followed the route normal up to camp 4 and then facing the crevasse? At the limit, Snorri & company did not have to say it because with a different agency (..), but to Mohr and Rotar who got there, it was due. Had they taken the Nepalese route, the 3 disappeared would not have lost so much time there (at least 1h) and it is still unclear if and how they crossed this crevasse as the Snorri track stops there. In short, the crevasse was decisive and was passable, but they didn’t tell him where.
Alessandro, what do you think of these two issues?