Everest2017 is over, but there’s another season on the horizon. K22017 is just around the corner, and with it, comes a lot of preparation and thoughts, both good and bad. In this Editor’s Note, Base Camp Magazine’s Editor talks a bit about what to expect for K2’s upcoming climbing season and who BCM is watching closely on the mountain.
What’s the biggest worry for K22017?
The biggest worry with K2 each season is always the same, “who will the mountain conquer?” because K2 is not one of those mountains that can be conquered. It’s a monster, and everyone who heads up its back has a 50/50 chance of not coming home.
Who are you particularly watching this season?
For every mountaineering season, I have a pick of mountaineers, expedition companies, guides… that I seem more interested in watching as they complete journeys; each season the picks are different, but some are constant favorites. This year, for the K2 season, I am watching Fredrik Sträng closely. His story in particular has always fascinated me – having been one of the mountaineers affected by the K2 2008 Tragedy. I’ve always felt that Sträng was a mountaineer who climbed because it was a passion, not for numbers or fame. And he generally doesn’t seem to be the kind of mountaineer that puts the summit before being human, most mountaineers would understand what I mean.
Why Sträng for your Watch Pick?
This season in particular, I’m rooting for him to make it to the top. In 2008, Sträng made a conscious decision to turn around when he realized it was too late to continue to the summit, especially with a bottle neck forming. The decision saved his life. Sträng was also one of the only mountaineers to climb back up the mountain to help a fallen climber who later died, even so, he made an attempt to bring his body down with three other climbers. His story has always been a staple in my heart – as the industry progresses, we see a loss of humanity and compassion in the heat of Summit Fever. This climber clarifies the water a bit and allows us to see what’s really important and shows the world that there’s still heart in the game.
I’m expecting him to summit, I’m expecting him to do well, and I want to hear that he returned safe. He deserves this climb. He’s an excellent climber and he’s my Watch Pick for K22017. We’ve been in contact with Sträng, wished him well and we’ll wait to see how his season goes.
I think his return to the mountain is poetic. It’s a mountaineering version of a shakespearean tale about taming a beast that scared the boots off of you ten years prior and enjoying the moment the mountain allows you up and realizing you’re one of the worthy after all.
What tips do you have for the climbers heading out for K2 in 2017?
Tip numero uno will always be to lower your ego, don’t head to the mountain thinking it’s a thing to be conquered. Instead, pray with an open heart for survival, success and a summit.
As always, don’t climb past your turnaround time. If you’re headed into a bottleneck, be realistic. Don’t think you’re getting through it quickly. So if the turnaround time is an hour to three hours out, turnaround. It’s not worth climbing down in the dark and possible bad weather. K2 is a monster in the daytime, it’s the devil at night and it will spit you out dead or half-alive for being too careless.
Most mountaineers would have had their meal and gear rations planned out and shipped by now. If there’s anything you can carry with you or get to the Pakistan by the time you get there, purchase it now. K2 is very remote and there’s less of a chance for buying goods at nearby vilages. Once you’re on the mountain, you’re not leaving until the season is over at your summit, so have what you need when you get there and go over your pack supply list thrice.
Wear thick skin. K2 is the King of Mountains and only the best go there, so there’s a high level of competitiveness and it’s often not a very welcoming place toward the top. Rely on yourself, your team, but don’t rely on others for shared plans or anything else. On the off-chance your season is filled with nicer personalities, that’s great. But if not, be prepared to go it alone as everyone there is giving it their all and cannot afford to babysit or help in most cases. K2 is not Everest. There’s no handholding to the top.
What can our readers expect from Base Camp Magazine during K22017?
We’ve got a lot planned. We’re going to have some profile articles on K2, some climber profile pieces, news and we’re launching our Dispatch Program with K22017. We will be following Sträng’s journey and publishing Dispatches on his progress. We’re excited about K22017.
What are you expecting from K22017?
What am I expecting? I’ve learned not to expect anything from K2, however, I’m hoping for some really solid summits. I am hoping away bad weather and tragedy, but I am realistic, I know there will be some deaths. We lost Ueli Steck this year during Everest2017, I’m hoping we don’t lose other legends this year. I’m also hoping my Watch Pick Sträng Summits! I will be releasing my Watch Picks for Elbrus soon as well.
I’m excited to see which routes everyone is taking to the summit, following their journeys and watching them as they reach Base Camp. I’m also hoping that there are no issues as they come through Pakistan.
Further Reading on K2
Get to Know Our K22017 Watch Pick, Fredrik Sträng
Fredrik Sträng is a Swedish climber, personal trainer and motivational speaker. Sträng has summited 8 of the world’s 8,000 m. peaks, and in 2017, Sträng will be attempting K2 again. He has worked with charitable organizations through the years to help those in need and has been given various awards including Male Adventurer of the Year twice in 2007 and 2010. Sträng is partnered with Sigma Technology.