Fredrik Sträng attempts a summit bid on K2 on 23 July 2017. His SAT phone has broken, but he’s working hard toward a successful Summit Bid.
UPDATE 27 JULY 2017
The following is an update to Fredrik Sträng’s K2 summit attempt dated 25 July 2017.
July 21, the satellite phone broke down. The weather is still bad. It has been snowing continuously with heavy winds on K2. On July 24th, Fredrik advanced to camp 2, which is 6,700 on meters. Today, July 25, the climbers are stuck in camp 2 because of the weather conditions. No expedition has yet reached to camp 3 and 4. The weather window should take place tomorrow 26-27 July, and then the decision is made to go for camp 4 and then continue to the summit the day after.
DISPATCH # 9 Fredrik Sträng K2 2017
We, and all of you reading this, have been keeping our fingers crossed in hopes of good weather for the summit attempt for Fredrik Sträng‘s Sigma K2017 Expedition. In our last Dispatch, we left Fredrik waiting patiently as he watched the stars and contemplated his place amongst them and measured his size against the mountain. He was, as always, in good spirits and expecting a weather window this week, however, that did not come to pass.
K2 Summit Bid Starts 23 July
Yesterday, he announced that today is the day for the Summit Bid start! When I last received an update from him this morning, he was on his way to pack his gear and getting ready for the long 5-6 day climb to the summit of K2. He is very excited, bummed about the weather, but nonetheless excited for the chance to scale the back of K2 again after 9 years away and so much hard work spent preparing for this expedition.
Since he arrived in the mountain, the weather has been obnoxious, hellish and uncooperative. Constant snow and low visibility – the usual on K2, what he likes to call “shit weather.” But a change in the predictions means this may let up just enough for a summit bid.
Loss of SAT Phone Communication on K2
Fredrik’s SAT phone stopped working one week ago, causing him to lose the capability to receive and send emails to and from his SAT phone address. Those following the expedition can expect just a couple more updates before he summits and arrives back in Skardu, Pakistan. For now, he is relying on his friend Harry, who is letting him send Dispatches from his SAT device.
While he is on the climb to K2 Summit Proper, we won’t be able to see any photos, those will have to wait until he arrives back in K2 Base Camp, and he jokes that videos will have to wait until he reaches Skardu, however, they won’t be 4K quality, as these would take him “14 days to upload.” Always with a humor that never fades, Fredrik makes the best of his time on the mountain.
K2 is as isolated as you get, he tells us about the questions he receives on whether or not he has access to cell networks on the summit! But, as he put it, there is nothing on K2, it is a peaceful wilderness devoid of technological connections not derived from satellite connections; he says it’s not like Everest, “well, on Everest Summit, you actually have 3G (a reason strong enough for some people to climb the summit just to be able to check in on FB, right!? Or not…). From his G4 Lumix camera, he can sometimes spot a satellite roaming by, but no airplanes or helicopters, with the exception of three he has seen through the duration of the expedition stressing the night. Those who know Fredrik understand that peace is a valued commodity above technology, partying and excess for him. He lives simply. As he put it in one of his updates, he hardly buys clothes, most of them come from generous sponsors and his parents who gift them during special occasions. But, he did say he bought a suit once and used it three times; if my observations of his progress over the years are correct, I’d say that this suit is the navy blue one with the 4 light-colored cuff buttons on the forearms. If this is the one, it is one that works for his frame, so it was a great choice.
It’s the only one I’ve ever seen him wear, so I suppose this is the one. A reader made us aware of a video in which he was in wearing the jacket for a talk show starring a host “Malou.” I have to say, I did watch it even though I don’t understand a lick of Swedish but a few words like “fantastisk,” “hallå” and “liv,” and just by his way of speaking, I understood what he was talking about, especially when referencing 2008 on K2, his face changed and there was a solemn respect that drove his next words. As explained in the article, “Get to Know Fredrik Sträng, we detail how this is possible; it’s what makes him a great speaker. So, if you do get the chance to book him, it would be an investment in your future, but I digress, let us get back to the topic.
Fredrik Sträng’s Climbing Ethics
Preparing for the peak is his main concern now, even though, as he puts it, “in preparations for perhaps 10 min. at the summit. It’s a rare and odd thing this drive to summit an 8000m. peak (without getting into details about style and performance which I do believe is very important). Let’s iterate “style,” as no one gets to the summit with more of it than Freddie – months of strict training and preparation converging in a kickass push to the top that breathes pure reason into those spent expedition dollars. His sponsors are generous because they believe in him, and they believe because they see what we all see. A solid climber who values the functional potential of his body, who trains with the intent to summit, not just the intent to climb and takes the time to plan a training regimen that will elevate his chances for success, from diet to exercise and mental strength. Sträng does not live a life of excess or partying. He is one of the few that understand the value of a good night’s sleep and how this is a very important part of proper training and mental strength. With these qualities in your athlete, it’s really not a surprise that his sponsors back him with full confidence and form lasting relationships with him. Their support is an investment in his success, which is an investment in theirs as well.
In his last update, he explained how he does this for the love of climbing mountains, not the fame or numbers, which we were well aware of when we first contacted him. There may be criticisms to the contrary, but after you get to know this climber, it’s evident that fame or anything other than the summit or reaching a personal goal not is at the top of his list. The peacefulness of mountains, the grueling training and climbing is what drives him. Nothing more than being able to know for himself that he’s reached some of the world’s most dangerous and rewarding peaks. That with each summit, he gains from the Earth an irreplaceable part of himself.
When I meet Olympic gold medallist in sports, what is it really about? Standing there at the pedestal receiving the gold medal, flowers and a kiss on the cheek by a pretty girl that was appointed for this task because she was pretty, and receiving the applauses from the audience? Then what? Climbing is not like that. It’s only the pedestal (one of the highest ones in the world) and nothing else of the above. Then what? You go off the pedestal and into the changing room if you’re an Olympic Gold medallist and then there are some interviews and maybe a nice dinner with your loved onse and maybe a TV channel calls you because they want you in a TV-program where other famous gold medallist compete against each other on a beach, a desert or a jungle. Then what? Inshallah I summit K2 get some nice summit photos, media wants to talk to me about it, I get some distinguished speaking engagements talking about human drive, risk analysis, team-work and then what? If you climb K2 of that reason, then, don’t. If you compete in the Olympic Games for the reasons I mentioned, then, don’t. I honestly don’t think anyone does it for those reasons (or I hope not). As I see it, this is what I do. This is how I chose to live. That’s it. No more no less. Of course, I can get poetic and dress the reasons with this or that beautiful outlook or defend it with this or that profound cause, but what for? When everything comes to and end, this is what I do because of some strange reason, I like it. I don’t need to quote George Leigh Mallory on the reasons. Tomorrow we are going up. This is what we do, because strangely enough we like it and there will be no gold medal on the top, just a long stretch back down back to safe BC again.
What we most like about Fredrik is that he brings us into his life, to experience his episodes and gives us a genuine view of his life. He explains that being an adventurer, although a word he does not prefer, he does endure some extraordinary experiences as a result.
I guess being an adventurer (I honestly think that adventurer is a pathetic word (which I will have reasons to come back to) and I prefer the word climber) is about one more step, one more step, or one more move, one more move. It’s the repetitive never ending pursuit in ever and ever upwards. You gotta love the wind that blows in your face because as the saying goes: sailors never beg for a tailwind, the learn to sail. You gotta love feeling dirty, thirsty, hungry. You gotta appreciate pain, suffering, cold, heat, and never really getting exactly what you want (sometimes (but that’s rare) things can turn out even better than anticipated). You gotta love the fact that sometimes you get sick, sometimes even injure yourself (which does not have to be out of self-neglect or neglect from either reading danger or pushing too far, sometimes shit just happens). You gotta love living cheap, sleeping on couches, in cars, on plain ground. You gotta love living primitively. You gotta love being harassed by bureaucrats or/and police. You gotta love that sometimes shit just happens. You gotta love boredom and waiting weeks for a weather window. You gotta love journalists that ask if you are crazy, you gotta love people who look at you smile and ask have you seen any dead people (remembering all those wonderful spirits that I have had the pleasure and honor to climb with). You gotta love talking to authorities and Swedish tax department trying to keep the temper and trying to explain that, yes, I do not live an ordinary life and therefore some of my receipts and travels can make it confusing for bureaucrats. You gotta love yourself because you will spend a lot of time training countless of hours alone. You gotta love yourself because when you have endured 2 weeks in a tent in a snowstorm and there is no entertainment you are the entertainment.
Through all of this, Fredrik also gives us a glimpse of what we all experience when we visit grandma, a lecture on whether or not we are expecting to venture into the professional field of a “real job,” and ultimately, the long-awaited acceptance from grandma of being at peace with the life path you’ve chosen of being “one with the mountains.” He says:
My grandmother always asked me (out of concern) when I was planning to get a real job. I have had many “real” jobs over the years and I still have, but she could not comprehend how climbing mountains could be a profession. I must admit that it is kinda wired profession. I mean, there are athletes that are sponsored and have a salary but climbing isn’t football or tennis, and thank God I never spent years and years trying to become a soccer or a tennis player! Before my grandmother passed away she admitted that she was proud of what I did but, of course, afraid that I would hurt myself, but she supported my climbs in the end. My grandmother on my mother’s side, she has understood that yeaa, an adventurer can be a profession, I guess she had wanted me to have chosen another profession, but now, when I clearly, after 20 years, have made up my mind, she does nothing else than support me and always says: you know my grandchild, when things are getting tough, you know I’m always there pushing you from behind, one more step, one more step.
I like to think that all of us in this realm have experienced this very same thing, trying to make a life that makes us happy and hoping it makes our grandparents and parents proud to say it’s something we do. For Fredrik, it’s something he was fortunate to hear, for some of us, we carry on in hopes that our families understand our lust for the mountains. Always, counting on the support of the guardians of the mountains, Mallory, Hall, Gilkey and so many others in our endeavors to reach the top of these peaks, to achieve the epitome of peace. As he put it, “So you want to become an adventurer? Then you gotta love people generalizing and calling you names!” Whether those names are “adventurer, climber, alpinist, crazy,… is up to the writer, you just be the ever-so-patient climber. Fredrik is a fortunate climber, he’s from a loving and supportive household of three children and parents that have supported him through all of his endeavors.
We wish him luck on his Summit Bid today! And we hope he takes our well-wishes with him on his route to the top! My personal hopes are stored until I hear he’s reached the summit alive and descended alive, and I save a bit to compensate for the sorrow that comes with the realization that the expedition is over. That the next step is not back to the summit, but to the way home.
About 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. To learn more about Sträng, read “Get to Know Climber Fredrik Sträng.”
Follow our dispatches of Fredrik Sträng’s K2017 Expedition here.