Tuesday, June 19, 2012

FTA Broad Peak 2012 - On the Baltoro!

19th - In Urdukas with views to Broad Peak and the Trango Towers

Our team enjoyed a rest day in Paiju and today left dry land to head out onto the Baltoro Glacier for the first time. From here on in they will be heading upward against the slow but sure flow of the glacier until they set up camp at Broad Peak. They had a long day today to reach Urdukas camp and it is here that they will see the last bit of grass for the rest of the trip. They are also getting great views to the Trangos and to Broad Peak! Ben left a short audio dispatch which you can listen to here

Brad and Louis-Olivier with Trango's behind at Urdukas Camp © brad jackson
Sunset on Broad Peak from Urdukas © Brad Jackson

They are beginning to feel the altitude with Jhula at 3100m and  Paiju at some 3500m. The rest day is helpful to make the larger height gain to Urdukas  (4150m) safer and more comfortable. As well the rest day is when the porters  prepare themselves for the less hospitable days ahead and cook fresh meat to last the trip up to base camp and back. A number of goats who had been ambling along with the members and porters were really only along for a one-way trip. The river runs red for a while and then the smell of goat on the BBQ fills the area followed by one of the best meals of the trip. There is usually a pretty good dance party in the evening as well!

The porters all carry approximately 25kg's of team gear plus 5-10kg of their own and typically the same porter will carry the same load each day so members become quite familiar with the porters responsible for their personal loads. The porters efforts are immensely appreciated and without them our expedition would not be possible. For the most part they have strong frames which enable them to strap nearly any kind of object on from expedition barrels to kerosene stoves. It is quite a site to see 100 to 200 porters all in a row making their way across the vast expanses of the Karakoram punctuated by at least a few with tall stacks of chairs sticking up into the sky. During the course of the expedition we will have a number of extra loads of fresh food brought in and by the time our group is done well over 200 porter loads will have made their way up the 80km long glacier to support our endeavors.

Frames for carrying loads © stu remensnyder

Brad's dispatches for the 16th to 18th June are below and hope you enjoy them!

June 16th - Askole to Juhla

Wake up was at 4:30 AM and breakfast at 5 AM.

Loaded up all the porters and headed off at 7 AM after taking some videos and pics of the porters taking their loads one by one.

Headed off on the road and made the mistake of trying to take a photo of a bunch of three women carrying bushes. One cried "no photo" and under-arm threw a rock at me. Ben had a similar incident when was taking a mountain pic, three "bushes" whirled around and shouted "no photo". These bushes are women carrying large loads of hay twice the size of themselves back to Askole.

The first half of the 5-hour walk I was basically by myself but eventually caught up to Darren, Al, Arnie and Hamza at an idyllic bend of the river covered in trees. We did some impromptu interviews after a quick snack and then continued.

We traveled along some interesting ridgelines along a braided river and we walked in roughly low 30s heat. My Pakistan warm weather attire was perfect and fell comfortable in the heat though my pack was reasonably heavy.

I guess running in Indonesia helps with handling high temperatures. Some of my more northerly members suffered a bit more but we all managed to make it into Juhla camp in a very quick 4 to 5 hours. We were expecting 6 to 8 hours, so once again a pleasant surprise to come in early.

The campsite has a phalanx of toilets that look like some kind of fortification, totally at odds with the surrounding environment. Rumor states that these toilets are part of a multi million Balti aid development package headed by former Presidents Musharraf’s daughter. The toilets were built and the rest of the money used to buy a nice living in London. Well, that's how the rumor goes.

Juhla toilets © stu remensnyder

June 17th - Juhla to Paiju

Another early morning breakfast and another early start as we try and escape the Pakistan summer heat. The day is similar to the previous except more undulating with every hour the mountains become more extreme. At this stage, I am worried about using up my repertoire of adjectives to describe the mountain-scape so early in the trip.

Robbo and I took a more leisurely pace than the day prior and I must admit I found it a bit harder, as my backpack seemed heavier and the air more still. We had a good rest at the 3-hour mark and did some interviews and general shenanigans while bemused porters looked on.

The second half of the trip to Paiju revealed the awesome lines of Citidel Peak. A peak that looks like it was drawn by a 10-year-old with a ruler. Extremely jagged sharks tooth peaks that hopefully will appear in a few upcoming pics. We all made the lovely tree-lined escarpment of Paiju  6 to 6.5 hours and looked forward to a rest day to catch up on some washing and, considering this is a 2012 expedition, the charging of our myriad  of electronic devices.

Citadel Peak © Brad Jackson
In the afternoon I found a prime location overlooking Cathedral and Citadel Peaks and with the help of some eager Balti porters took some pics. I also took some group pics but unfortunately Hamza that was out walking so we had to reschedule our photo shoot again for the next day.

Dinner was an absolute feast with the continued presence of fresh mango as dessert making all of us extremely happy.

June 18th - Rest day in Paiju

Today was a lazy day for most of us except for Ben and Louis, who scrambled 400 m above camp to get some glimpses of K2 and Broad Peak.

The rest of us rinsed our clothes of sweat and dust and I went on a charging frenzy as I got out all our Goal Zero stuff and laid out  solar panel blanket in front of my tent.

We managed to rustle up Hamza for the group photo shot and had some very tender goat for dinner. Early to bed tonight as we have an early 4 AM wake up for an early departure for next on the glacier.
FTA BP12 team in Paiju © Brad Jackson

[note the “early” theme which will be good prep for the upcoming climb!]

More news ahead!

1 comment:

JackieK said...

Great pics Brad.(Love the dunnies!) Go well Ben, Brad & team. Cheers from Oz, UK, Canada, & Argentina.